Healthier 2021: Laura’s Practicing Self-Care

This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.

By Laura J. Downey

This wellness journey has been teaching me a lot. I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with a top-tier support system, why I should stay hydrated, and the significance of making strength training a part of my weekly gym routine. But this week, things feel different. I think it’s because Valentine’s Day had me thinking about love. I started to think about the men I’ve loved, the friends I love, and even God’s love for me. All of it is truly beautiful. But then I had an aha moment!

I love love! So I started to think about what I have been doing to love myself. And the first thing I did the other night was turn off my phone and go to sleep. But not just the normal, it’s bedtime sleep. I closed my eyes at 6:30 p.m. because my body needed the rest. And even though I have FOMO (fear of missing out), I knew it was time to stop checking my Instagram feed and get some much needed shut-eye. When I woke up, I felt great! It’s amazing what showing yourself some love will do.

That’s when I decided it was time to take things to another level. I scheduled an hourlong appointment at a stretch studio a few minutes from my place. I had been there one time before and loved it, so I was looking forward to going back. When I arrived, my coach-therapist, Cephas, greeted me and we got right to work — or should I say, he got right to work! This is what I love about assisted stretching: All I have to do is relax and just be.

I usually do a little stretching before I work out but nothing like what I experienced here. My body truly needed to loosen up. I’m not flexible by any means, and with the help of Cephas, I was able to push my body outside of its normal comfort zone. From child’s pose to a figure four stretch, I moved my body and it felt good. It was another reminder that I need to show myself some love more often.

Sometimes I get so busy with work, schoolwork, and my other extracurricular activities that I forget to recharge. If you’re feeling like it’s time to reboot, take an hour out of your day to sleep or to go to a stretch studio. Your body will thank you for it. I’m already contemplating my next self-care endeavor.

Recently, I heard Oprah Winfrey say, “Be the love you need.” I second that motion. Wellness equals self-love, so give yourself the TLC you need.

Laura J. Downey is the executive editor of WebMD Magazine. She hopes this blog will help others see that every small step can lead to a more well-balanced, healthful, and fulfilling life. For more on her journey, follow her on Instagram  @laurakadowney.

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