A self-care guide for the busy adult

Wellness is not a choice; it is vital for survival. In today’s fast-paced culture, it can be increasingly difficult for adults to slow down, resulting in physical and mental depletion. 

Working more means less time for family, hobbies, exercise and cooking healthy meals. 

So, what does self-care look like for the busy adult, and how does one realistically care for themself when working long hours or caring for a family? 

QCity Metro spoke with a few wellness experts about self-care. Here’s what they said: 

Emotional and Mental Wellness 

Tip 1: Become aware of your breathing

“Breathe,” Mic Alexander told QCity Metro. “The very first thing is to make breath awareness a part of your daily practice.” 

Alexander is a certified emotional intelligence coach and trainer. She is also the president of Image Wealth, an emotional intelligence consulting practice. 

In order to incorporate intentional breathing into mundane activities, Alexander said a good practice is to take a deep breath at every  stop light.

“You will see over several days or weeks that you’ll see yourself calm down,” Alexander said. You really can’t think of mental wellness if your mind is stressed.”

Tip 2: Your power is in your choices

“If you notice that what you are doing is not physically demanding, [then] it’s just a matter of deciding to be mentally balanced,” Alexander said. 

Alexander says that people should remember they have a choice in feelings. She says to avoid labeling emotions as “negative” or “positive” because emotions are important internal messages. 

Physical Wellness 

Tip 1: Combine physical activity with your daily tasks 

Another recommendation is to become more active, even in small ways.

“For instance, if you have children, you can definitely do exercises with the stroller [such as] walking or light jogging [or] even taking a meeting [while] walking,” Taylor Calamese told QCity Metro. 

Calamese is the owner of Charlotte FIT and is a certified exercise physiologist and personal trainer, as well as a weight management specialist. 

Calamese recommends four functional exercises:

  • Squats – “You have to sit and stand every day.”
  • Deadlifts – “You have to pick things up off the floor, be it your groceries or children.”
  • Dumbbell row – “You can grab a bottle of water” 
  • Shoulder press 

She also recommends incorporating walking into your daily routine because of its benefits for the body and mind.

Calamese encourages people exercise three or more days a week for at least 30 minutes and complete exercises that are enjoyable. She says enjoying a workout can boost the chances of staying consistent. 

Tip 2: Start with a small, easy change 

Calamese says changes can be made easiest in the area a person feels the most confident in altering. 

“Start where you feel the most confident and most capable, and build from there because as you start changing in one area, you’ll naturally be inclined to want to start changing other areas,” she said. 

For example, if the goal is to eat healthier, a person could start by cutting back on unhealthy foods and then introducing healthy ones. 

Sleep Wellness 

Tip 1: Establish a consistent bedtime routine 

Our bodies thrive on regularity, and our wake and sleep cycles are largely influenced by our body’s internal clocks, called our circadian rhythm. If we go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every day, we set this internal clock and make it much easier to fall and stay asleep,” UNC Charlotte professor and health psychologist Hannah Peach told QCity Metro. 

Getting adequate rest is necessary because it is linked to our overall health. Poor sleep habits can result in high blood pressure, weight gain and dementia. 

Tip 2: Feeling rested is key

The average adult is encouraged to get around seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but sleep quantity varies from person to person. 

“There are certainly individual differences in this recommendation. Some people seem to function well at slightly less or slightly more hours, but “getting enough sleep” means obtaining the amount of sleep one needs to feel rested on a regular, consistent basis,” Dr. Peach said. 

Quality of sleep is just as important as the amount of sleep a person gets because the body also needs deep sleep to be fully replenished.

“Sleep hygiene practices are behaviors that we engage in during the day and before bed that promote good quality sleep,” Peach said. “This means avoiding screen time before bed, setting a consistent bedtime and wake time, and creating a dark, cool, and quiet sleep environment.”

Nutritional Wellness 

Tip 1: Utilize the sliding scale theory

Calamese says this theory is like “sliding” to better options. A person who often eats takeout food can make subtle changes by going for healthier takeout options, like a burger and fries could become a burger and side salad.

She also recommends going meatless one day a week. She said meatless meals are cheaper to buy ingredients for and also give the body a break from having to digest muscle, which can make the body feel sluggish. 

“Healthy functioning adults should be having a bowel movement after every meal. Everything should be in and out the body,” Calamese said. “Your [body has] to do so much work to process [meat], so it could be spending [energy on] other things that you could be using for brain function or doing your work but it’s getting tied up in the functions of your body trying to digest your food.”

Tip 2: It’s about what you add, not about what you take away 

Kylie Sakaida, a certified dietitian and social media personality, encourages people to add to their meals instead of taking away from them. 

For example, one pack of ramen noodles can turn into a delicious and nutritious meal just by adding a simple protein, some vegetables and low sodium broth. 

A plain bowl of honey nut cheerios can turn into a balanced breakfast by adding fresh fruit and nuts or seeds. 

And for the busy adult who doesn’t have time to meal prep, Sakaida has a new series for simple meals that require little planning. 

Tip 3: Always drink water

“If you’re living in a dehydrated state, which most Americans are, then that also impacts like your energy levels, your ability to think and your ability to feel good about different decisions you make throughout the day, because you’re already at a compromised state,” Calamese said. 

“We’re so used to not feeling well, that we start to normalize that. I think the most important thing is deciding that you deserve to feel better.”

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