The Importance of Self-Care

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Self-care is often overlooked, especially for those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. We know that veterans face unique challenges that can take a toll on their mental and physical well-being. That’s why we’ve created this page to provide resources and tips specifically for veterans who need to prioritize self-care. Whether you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or burnout, or simply want to improve your overall health, this page is here to help. From exercise to meditation apps, meal delivery services to personal care discounts, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of resources that can help you take care of yourself. Read on to discover how you can prioritize your own needs and achieve a greater sense of well-being.

Real Stories of Struggling Veterans: Why Self-Care is Crucial for Your Well-being.

Hear from veterans who have been there and learn how to prioritize self-care in your own life.

“I have been feeling really burnt-out. I’m going to school full-time. I also work a part-time job so I can help my partner with our living expenses.”

“In-between school and work, I come home to cook dinner and clean up around the house. When I get home from work, I have school assignments to complete and I usually don’t get to bed until after 2 o’clock in the morning. Most days, I skip breakfast because I am running late to class. I also forget to eat lunch often. I am just too busy.”

“Lately, I have started feeling really tired, stressed, and irritable. My grades are slipping, I have been performing poorly at work, and I have gained weight because I can’t seem to find the time to exercise. The other day, I got into a big fight with my partner for forgetting to put gas in the car. I am just so overwhelmed, I don’t know what to do.”

What is Self-Care?

Self-care means being mindful of your own needs and is centered around attending to your physical and mental well-being.

Why is Self-Care Important?

When life becomes demanding, many of us forget to take care of ourselves.

One of the most common reasons people neglect their self-care is due to a lack of time. Overwork, however, can make us less productive, disorganized, and emotionally depleted. It can also lead to all sorts of health problems.

Sometimes, we even see attending to our own needs as selfish, but when we take care of our own needs, we are better able to meet the needs of others.

Although you may have a lot going on, it is important to take some time every day for yourself because neglecting self-care can lead to burnout, stress, depression, and resentment towards the people in our lives.

Engaging in a self-care routine has been proven to reduce anxiety, improve concentration, increase resiliency, minimize frustration, improve energy, and boost self-esteem.

Self-care also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

How to Engage in Self-Care

Treat physical illness

Get regular check-ups at the doctor, take medications as prescribed, go to the dentist, and seek medical help when you are ill.

Eat balanced meals

Eat meals that include healthy foods and don’t skip meals during the day. A balanced diet is important for supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to reduce the risks of disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance.

Exercise regularly

Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day can significantly reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase your energy levels.

Get enough sleep

Sleeping 7 to 9 hours each night is vital to maintaining healthy brain function and physical health.

Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs

Mind-altering substances reduce our ability to get good sleep, proper nutrition, and engage in exercise. They also prevent the mind from processing information and emotions in a healthy and productive way.

Maintain physical hygiene

Good physical hygiene can improve mental and physical health.

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth everyday helps reduce bad breath, oral infections, and gum disease.
  • Medical professionals do not recommend showering or taking a bath every day especially for those with dry, sensitive, or thinning skin. However, cleaning yourself twice a week reduces bacteria on the skin, helps wounds heal, and can improve mental and emotional health.
  • It is also important to moisturize your skin when it becomes dry.
  • Getting a haircut every few months helps keep the hair from appearing shaggy and unkempt.
  • Routine nail care can prevent fungus infections of the nail, ingrown fingernails and toenails, and infections of the skin in the hands and feet.

Attend to your Mental Well-Being

Maintain your Emotional Well-Being

Maintaining emotional health can increase self-control, enhance coping skills, and improve resiliency.

  • Treat mental illness and seek counseling or other mental health support when you are feeling emotional distress. Seeking help from a mental health professional is often vital for maintaining emotional well-being.
  • Engage in creative activities. Being creative can increase positive emotions, lessen depressive symptoms, reduce stress, and decrease anxiety.
  • Write in a journal. Journaling can help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression. It can also help with prioritizing problems, fears, and concerns.
  • Listen to music. Listening to music can reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Take a walk and enjoy nature. Spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Watch something on television that makes you laugh. Laughter produces endorphins and alters dopamine and serotonin activity which can help alleviate stress and depression.
  • Have a good cry. Crying is self-soothing and releases oxytocin and endorphins that improve mental and physical well-being.
  • Get support from friends or family. Social support systems can promote mental health and buffer psychological stress.

Maintain your Spiritual Well-Being

Maintaining spiritual well-being can be a very important part of self-care. You can maintain your spiritual well-being by living in alignment with your values. You can also meditate or pray, as well as reflect and be mindful of your actions.

Stay Intellectually Stimulated

Intellectual stimulation increases physiological responses in the brain by inducing the flow of oxygen, blood and nutrients which reduce boredom and depression.

  • Read or listen to audiobooks.
  • Do puzzles.
  • Learn something new by taking classes or studying on your own.
  • Watch documentaries.

Maintain a Healthy Social Life

Friends and family can provide us with a support system and a greater sense of purpose, as well as reduce stress. Maintaining a social life by spending time with loved ones, volunteering, and engaging in healthy social media use, can be an excellent form of self-care. However, our social lives can also be toxic if we have abusive relationships or fail to set and maintain our boundaries. We have to learn that it is ok to say ‘No’ sometimes.

Maintain your Occupational Well-Being

Being engaged in meaningful employment can help us develop a positive identity and self-worth, so finding a job that you really enjoy is important. Build up your resume, network, train for job interviews, and apply for your dream job or open your own business. However, remember to engage in professional self-care habits like taking intermittent breaks, setting professional boundaries, and avoiding overextending yourself.

Maintain your Financial Well-Being

Financial security is also important for maintaining your well-being and reducing stress. Start a savings account, keep up on your taxes, and seek financial aid when you need it.

Self-Care Resources

Here are some scheduling apps that you can download on your Smartphone to help you set aside tile for self-care

Meal Delivery Services

Are you having a hard time getting healthy, balanced meals because you can’t seem to find the time to cook? Premade meal delivery services, such as Personal Chef To Go can be very helpful if you do not have time to cook, or don’t have access to healthy food options. To find discounts on premade meal delivery services, click here.

Maintaining Your Physical Health

Maintaining your fitness is important. Many gyms and fitness centers offer discounts to veterans. For a list of these facilities,
click here.

Personal Services

For a list of businesses that offer free and discounted personal care services, such as haircuts, click here.

Need more meditation in your life? Here are some meditation apps that you can download on your Smartphone to help you meditate.

  • HeadSpace has hundreds of guided meditations, mini-meditations, sleep sounds, and animations to help you better understand meditation.
  • Calm provides guided meditation sessions ranging in time from 3 to 25 minutes with topics from calming anxiety to mindfulness at work, as well as sleep sounds, nature sounds, and breathing exercises.
  • Insight Timer has experienced mindfulness teachers and allows you the freedom to choose a meditation depending on how long you have to practice and what style you’d like, You can also set a timer and meditate without guidance.
  • Aura offers personalized daily meditations, life coaching, nature sounds, stories, and music based on your selected mood.

For more self-care resources, visit the self-help section of the Know a Vet? website, by clicking here.

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