Home » Blog » Mental & Emotional Health » The Importance of Self-Care

The Importance of Self-Care

There are moments when I read the headlines, and I just want to break down and cry. There are days that I wake up angry at the state of our world and the forces continuing to perpetuate the current state of events. There are days that I am afraid of what the future holds or I feel disillusioned wondering if it will never change. And there are days that I fear for the health and wellness of my friends, family, city, and communities.

We all have these moments and these emotions. Our feelings are valid, but we should not make decisions — especially life altering ones — when our emotions are heightened because these feelings and moments will pass.

So . . . how do we get through these moments? How do we manage these emotions? How do we reground ourselves in the present moment?

There are a variety of tools that I rely on to help me through these moments, and many of them are my standard self-care recommendations.

Take a Breath

Intentional breathing can calm the mind, and oxygenate the blood, reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, and lower cortisol levels. When we become activated, our breathing can become rapid and shallow which reduces the amount of oxygen in our blood and can increase cortisol levels. It’s important to recognize when this is happening and become intentional in breathing deeply and slowly. 

It can be difficult to slow our breathing when we’re activated, so I generally suggest getting into a comfortable position such as lying down or relaxing in a hammock. Next, relax the diaphragm and take deep intentional breaths to a count of three or four, then exhaling to a count of three or four. I will usually set a timer for three minutes, and reassess if I need an additional three minutes.

This is a wonderful activity that can be practiced anywhere, anytime, anyplace — even while sitting at your desk.

Move your Body

Exercise is important to one’s overall health and wellness. Regular exercise can manage blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, improve digestion, manage weight, and lower cortisol levels. Many people only consider exercise the time they spend lifting weights, running on a treadmill, or taking an aerobics class. However, there are many activities that can have the same effect.

Hiking is a great activity because it encourages you to be outdoors in nature. There are hiking trails for all fitness levels, and walking among nature can have a meditative effect. Many other outdoor activities can also have improved mental, physical, and emotional benefits. Consider biking, paddleboarding, kayaking, tai chi, swimming, jogging, or walking.

My preferred go-to forms of exercise are yoga and qigong. These activities not only provide me with physical exercise, they also force me to harmonize my breathing with the movement of my body. I always feel more present and aware of my body after a yoga or qigong session.

Take a Moment to Reflect

Journaling can be cathartic in processing our emotions. It can also provide insight into our triggers and our unconscious. Writing down how we feel, what we’re thinking, and what transpired will free up space and allow our mind to flow freely. When we allow ourselves the space for our thoughts, we have more resources to discover creative solutions to the challenges we face. Most importantly, when we free up our minds by writing our thoughts and emotions, we can improve the quality of our sleep because our mind is not running.

Journaling can take many forms these days, and most people prefer a keyboard over a pen and pad. However, we’re still mammals and our intellect developed through the use of writing utensils and a writing medium. I’m a big proponent of pen-and-paper writing because the physical act seems to have a better effect at allowing the mind to wind down. In fact, I have been able to transition this activity to electronic means — an iPad and Apple pen! This also allows me to convert the handwriting to text should I choose.

Closing Thoughts . . .

The key to any self-care practice is to feel nourished by the activity. The goal is to find some peace, gain from respite from the world, and recharge your batteries. The most recent activity that I found nourishing was a Guardians of the Galaxy marathon because it was what I needed. If an activity activates you, then choose another activity. Your body and your inner child will thank you.

About the Author

Chief Clinic Director & President at
Learn more about me

As a practitioner and healer in Washington, DC for more than a decade, I take a patient-centered approach to care through acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicines, and mind-body coaching, with a specialty in full-spectrum reproductive health care.

Transformational Acupuncture logo
Monday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Tuesday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Wednesday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Thursday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Friday 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

1645 Connecticut Ave NW,
3rd floor
Washington, DC 20009
Get Directions
Share This