August is National Wellness Month and self-care continues to be the focus of 2021. Self-care comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and it can mean various things to different individuals.
Self care entails looking after yourself so that you can stay healthy, stay well, fulfill your goals for yourself and those you care for. Since everyone’s goals are different, there is no single path to self care.
When it comes to defining self-care, several organizations and scholars take a health-oriented perspective. “The ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider,” according to the World Health Organization.
Self-care, in keeping with this definition, comprises everything that has to do with being physically healthy, such as hygiene, nutrition, and obtaining medical help when necessary. It refers to any and all of the steps a person can take to manage stress in his or her life while also taking care of their personal health and well-being.
Self-care helps you to have a positive relationship with yourself so that you may share that positivity with others. What you don’t have for yourself, you can’t give to others. When taking care of your health, you’re not only thinking about your own needs; it’s recharging your batteries so you can be the best version of yourself for others around you. Everyone around you benefits from the positive energy you radiate.
Benefits of self-care
Self-care refers to anything you do to look after yourself physically, psychologically, and emotionally. It has numerous advantages, including improved physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. According to research, self-care promotes favorable health outcomes such as resilience, longer lifespan, and improved stress management skills.
While self-care can aid in the prevention of future health issues, it is not a cure or therapy for sickness or illness in and of itself. Self-care may aid individuals with chronic diseases (such as heart disease or cancer) in managing symptoms, reinforcing other aspects of health, and increasing emotional well-being. The mind and body are connected and both benefit from self-care.
What can self-care look like?
2020 threw us for a curve and despite having a year to adapt, we still have a lot on our plates. Sometimes just surviving can work out for a short period of time, but cutting corners on our health for too long can add up. Additionally we may have taken for granted what health looked like before the added stress of the pandemic. Our “successes” almost never corresponded to a self-care or overall health after graduating high school. P.E. was no longer required and we often are encouraged to maximize other pursuits. Self-care, like our job, involves active planning and scheduling.
The rush of regular life and falling into pandemic life, might have created a scenario where we continue to cut corners with our health.
Although achieving a balance might be tough, being attentive to wants and desires is the first step towards.
These are some self-care suggestions to improve your well-being.
- Take care of your physical well-being.
Physical well-being is an important aspect of self-care. Regular exercise or physical activity has been shown to increase serotonin. Serotonin regulates our mood and the various ways we make sure this neurotransmitter is active can help us manage anxiety, low mood and the other range of human emotions. Though exercise is important, paying attention to the body and allows time for rest.
- Which brings us to: Get plenty of rest
Sleep deprivation affects far too many individuals, and it has a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Your body requires rest and renewal. Daytime naps, if short, can also be beneficial for recharging our batteries and increasing our concentration.
Some would say the human brain has a tendency to worry as it was protective when dealing with unknown dangers like bears and ice storms. Actively training the brain to stop focusing on the negative can help it function better for modern life. Gratitude practice is an important technique that can be used daily and even twice daily to not lose sight of the good things, good experiences and good people in life without drowning in temporary setbacks.
- Learn to have boundaries
Its not uncommon to succumb to peer pressure, and let our actions be influenced by others. While making decisions, it is necessary to reflect upon whether or not the decision was ours completely. Learning to create boundaries can be especially tough for “people-pleasers” and those that were rewarded only for self-sacrificing behaviors. Learning to create boundaries in a way that works for you, can be quite liberating and healthy.
Self-care is a personal experience, and no single one-size-fits-all approach will always work. What drives and inspires someone is not the same as what motivates and inspires the next. Keep an eye out for things that make you feel content or at peace.
August: National Wellness Month
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the Wellness Initiative, which is based on a wellness model developed by Dr. Swarbrick for adults with behavioral disorders.
The Wellness Initiative defines eight different types of wellness, as well as the basic criteria that each one requires. The dimensions interact with one another and have an impact on an individual’s overall health and quality of life. The dimensions are as follows:
- Emotional: Managing life well and forming happy relationships
- Environmental: Maintaining good health through spending time in pleasant, stimulating situations that promote happiness.
- Financial: Contentment with one’s existing and prospective financial circumstances.
- Intellectual: Recognizing creative qualities and figuring out how to broaden one’s knowledge and abilities.
- Occupational: Personal fulfillment and enrichment as a result of one’s employment.
- Physical: Recognizing the need for physical activity, nutritious diets, and adequate rest.
- Social: Creating a sense of belonging and connection, as well as having a [good] support system
- Spiritual: Increasing one’s sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Mental health during Covid-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our lives. Healthcare measures such as social distancing and self-isolation are necessary to prevent yourself and your loved ones from getting exposed to the virus; however, these measures can make you feel lonely. The pandemic has indeed brought a major change in our lives and change can often be stressful.
The following are some of the effects of stress:
- Fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or impatience are all common emotions.
- Appetite, energy, desires, and interests change.
- Concentration and decision-making difficulties
- Sleep disturbances, nightmares, and other issues
There are multiple ways to cope with stress in a healthy way, and also battle the pandemic, while taking care of not just your physical health, but also your mental health. The measures are as follows:
- Take a vacation from news articles, particularly those on social media, by watching, reading, or listening to them. Although it is beneficial to be aware, hearing about the epidemic on a regular basis can be distressing. Take breaks from constant media consumption and focus on learning a new hobby or furnishing previously known skills.
- Take good care of yourself.
- Make sure you get enough rest.
- Excessive reliance on alcohol and other substances for temporary relief should be avoided.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for routine preventative measures (such as immunizations and cancer screenings).
- When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, get vaccinated.
- Allow yourself to relax. Make an effort to participate in some other things that you enjoy.
- Make friends with others. Discuss your problems and feelings with individuals you can trust external symbols.
- Make contact with local or faith-based organizations
Imagine if we treated our health the same way we treat our families or pets: by nourishing it with proper nutrition, moderate physical activity, social engagements, and keeping our minds engaged with a constant purpose and motivation to get out of bed in the morning, we may achieve our full health and pleasure potential!
Happy national wellness month! Make notes to not only keep your physical health in check but also your mental health. Reach out to crisis helplines if needed. Try virtual therapies with a mental health professional or in-person therapies if it is safely accessible in your area. Make an active change in your lifestyle and give self-care equal importance as you give to everything else in your life. Let’s start this national wellness month!