Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
When it comes to caring for your health, we all know the basics: eat whole foods, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. While the importance of these things never wanes, they are not the beginning and end of self-care. We live in an ever expanding and complicated world. This provides room for innovation and new conveniences, but there are also byproducts that can be harmful to both our physical and mental health.
Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
If you feel like you wake up each morning carrying a perpetual cold that simply will not go away, the problem may not be rhinovirus. Everything from the cleaning products you use to your pet’s dander to the materials used to build your home furnishings can be sources of indoor air pollution. Left uncorrected, hazardous substances in indoor air will make you sick.
Keeping the air in your home clean takes work, including regularly cleaning and ensuring your home has proper ventilation. One easy thing you can do to remove dust, dirt, and allergens is invest in a few air purifiers for your home. An air purifier won’t remove all possible irritants– for instance, they can’t remove gaseous pollutants, such as the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in adhesives, paints, and cleaning products. However, air purifiers with HEPA filters do remove 99.97 percent of particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter. That can make a huge difference in reducing your sniffles and cold-like symptoms.
A lot of “self-care” advice can come off as, well, selfish. While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking a day off– it’s actually healthy– it’s also important to put in work. In particular, it’s important to put in work toward something you care about without expecting anything in return… yes, we’re talking about volunteering.
Giving to others is an important part of maintaining your physical and mental health. Not only will you break a sweat doing many volunteer activities, giving back on a regular basis provides a sense of purpose and stimulates the mind in ways that combat feelings of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, volunteering introduces you to people with similar values while connecting you to the community. And when you really get down to it, volunteering is fun! We could all use a little more of that in our lives.
Play with Puzzles
Your brain is not a muscle, but it still tends to behave like one. That’s why it’s as important to fit in a neurological workout as it is to hit the gym. Completing your favorite type of puzzle is an easy way to do just that. Doing a puzzle has many benefits for the brain, including enhanced memory, accelerated ingenuity, and an increased production of dopamine. Researchers also suggest that people who play with puzzles regularly display an increase in work productivity and enhanced intellectual processing. The calming and mindful nature of doing puzzles is akin to meditation. All in all, puzzles support the entire thought process and promote good logical judgment and creativity.
We all have a favorite type of puzzle, but consider trying out some new ones for added brain benefits:
* Mechanical puzzles – jigsaw, Rubik’s cube, nail puzzles, etc.
* Logic puzzles – Sudoku, nonograms, logic grid puzzles, etc.
* Math puzzles – Putnam problems, AMC competitions, modern math puzzles, etc.
* Cryptic puzzles – riddles, escape rooms, puzzlehunts, etc.
* Word puzzles – crosswords, Boggle, word jumbles, etc.
Taking care of one’s health is a 24/7 job, and requires way more than eating salads and going for jogs. One of the little things you may not think of is the amount of pollution in your home. If you suffer from constant allergies, consider adding indoor air purifiers to your house to reduce allergens and support overall wellness. While it’s okay to take a day for yourself, it’s just as
important to give back through the healthy act of volunteering. Finally, your brain may not be a muscle, but it still needs to work out. Doing puzzles on a regular basis improves cognitive function and provides many of the same benefits of meditation.