Carve out time for self-care to improve overall wellness

  • Published
  • By Matthew Palmisano
  • 182nd Medical Group

One thing that is true for all of us in the Air National Guard is that we juggle many priorities on a daily basis, and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves.

It takes work to prioritize our own wellbeing. But we need to model good habits for our families, friends, and those we lead and mentor. Where do we start?

Mindfulness: Work on staying focused on the present. Practice for at least 10 minutes per day.

Positive self-talk: Counter every negative thought with at least two positive thoughts.

Boundaries: Know it is okay to say “no” or “not right now.”

Connectedness: Connect with yourself; connect with others.

Physical activity: Move around, even if you take laps around your office or home. Try to avoid sitting for extended periods of time.

Nutrition: Make time to eat healthy meals and snacks. Do not forget to drink water.

Sleep: Maintain healthy sleep habits, which contribute to many positive behaviors and overall health benefits.

Come up with your own ways to list techniques proactively. List things you can do for five minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 60 minutes. Identify some techniques that are free and can be used across all settings. For example, some people listen to music for self-care.

Talk with coworkers, family members, friends, etc., about your goals of self-care. Not only does it build camaraderie, but it also helps you identify more techniques. It can also be entertaining. Frequent suggestions that are humorous but also legitimate include “go to the bathroom with the door closed,” or “drink my coffee when it’s hot” when talking about techniques that take five minutes or less.

A popular and effective self-care technique—especially during times of stress—is an exercise that has many names: box breathing, belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing.

This technique is helpful because you can use it across all settings, regardless of where you are. Children can become experts at box breathing.

Remember to give yourself grace as you work self-care into your daily routine.

Start with five minutes and work your way up. Self-care should decrease stress, not increase it, so take your time.

A consistent self-care routine will make you feel happier, healthier, more productive and will contribute to healthier relationships. One deep breath, and one step at a time.

I am here to support you and help you to reach your goals!

Matthew Palmisano, MSW, LICSW, US ARMY CPT (Ret)
Director of Psychological Health
182d Medical Group (MDG)
Comm: 309-633-5774 DSN: 724-5774
Mobile: 309-210-8390