by Marci Howard-May, Director of Spa and Wellness
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It does not need to include a list of “to-dos” or require you to go to the spa. At its very root, self-care can be brought back to some simple basics we often overlook in our busy modern lifestyles.
Below are a few tips that, at first glance, will seem very simple. Yet if we stop and examine how we are actually doing on all of these things, we may realize we need to take more time for ourselves.
Eat well. A healthy and varied diet is highly important to nourish our mind and body. Eating vibrant, fresh foods and drinking plenty of water steadily throughout the day will make a significant improvement in our mood, mental alertness, and energy.
Make choices that consistently replace less healthy options with foods full of nutrients, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber. Our chef provides cooking demos to show you how easy it can be to make delicious, healthy food.
Sleep well. Technology and our overstimulated lifestyles are disrupting our natural sleep patterns, and many of us struggle to get enough sleep. Science shows that adults regularly need 7-9 hours of restful sleep to remain healthy. Creating a simple nighttime ritual for yourself can help you unwind and get a rejuvenating night’s sleep.
At Red Mountain, our presentation on A Good Night’s Sleep and the Sleep Tonic Massage will both give you ideas and tools for creating a nighttime ritual of your own. Here are a few simple tips to try for better sleep:
Research shows that blue light suppresses our body’s production of melatonin and negatively impacts our circadian rhythms of sleep and alertness. Blue light is present in our electronic devices as well as indoor overhead lighting. Spending time outside every day allows the sun to help our bodies create serotonin, the precursor to melatonin. Combining this with turning off all devices at least an hour before bed can help you sleep better.
Do some light stretches and gentle range of motion movements to relax any tense areas in your body as you are getting ready for bed. Perform gentle hand and/or foot massage with your favorite product. Take some deep breaths to unwind. Read a book–not electronically–to begin quieting the mind for sleep.
Move well. The human body is made to move. The less we move, the stiffer our tissues become and our range of motion declines. We need to be moving in dynamic ways daily and throughout the day. Whatever movement makes your body feel good and energized, do as much of it as you can. There is a wide spectrum of activity levels wonderful for keeping the body strong and limber. Finding something you enjoy doing will make it easier to stick with.
Walking is a great form of movement that can also double as meditation. At the resort, we encourage you to not only enjoy our morning hikes but to also walk our Inspiration Trail and spiral labyrinth, taking in the views, fresh air, and sunshine.
Having good posture is crucial for keeping in proper alignment so the bones can support the body without placing extra strain on the muscle tissue. Correct posture also affects the brain with an influx of positive emotions and hormones and reduces the levels of cortisol into our bloodstream. Additionally, proper posture allows us room to breathe more efficiently and deliver oxygen to nourish our tissues.
Breathe deeply. Our breath is the most powerful resource that we can access. Slow, deep belly breathing will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest) within minutes to get us out of “fight-or-flight” mode.
We spend much of our days under the power of the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight), which releases stress hormones like cortisol into our bodies. Cortisol increases our blood pressure, raises blood sugar levels, and decreases our immune system. When the parasympathetic nervous system can take over, cortisol levels go down, blood sugar levels stabilize, and we see an increase in our immune system.
Pay attention to your breathing throughout the day. How often do you catch yourself holding your breath or only breathing as far down as the upper chest? Add into your day as many deep belly breaths as you can and you will be amazed at the physical and mental response it can bring. Diseases cannot thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. If you want to take it a step further, teach yourself how to do Pranayama breathing exercises or take one of our yoga or meditation classes offered at the resort, not to mention a great morning hike!
Remember that self-care is not a selfish act and should be part of your personal wellness practices. Revisit these simple self-care tips to build a strong foundation that will support your health and well-being for your many adventures ahead.
About Marci Howard-May
Marci Howard-May is passionate about empowering others to take charge of their personal well-being. She works to develop highly knowledgeable and skilled teams in both spa and wellness by blending over 20 years of knowledge and experience as a massage therapist and exercise physiologist. She continually works with these teams to add spa treatments, personal discovery experiences, and fitness classes that are unique and varied for Red Mountain guests to enjoy.