International Self-care Day (ISD) takes place on July 24th each year. While we hear self-care talked about so much in the news, on tv, and in the media that it can seem like a buzzword of the moment, this day of recognition gives us all a chance to take a more in-depth look into self-care.
What is Self-Care?
The dictionary definition of self-care is healthcare you provide to yourself, often without the guidance or help of a doctor or other medical professional. A typical example of this kind of self-care is taking over the counter pain medication.
The meaning of self-care has somewhat shifted recently, defined loosely as anything you can do to align your mind and your body with the end goal to improve your mental and physical well being. This definition of self-care shows a growing focus on preventative healthcare, with many self-care tips aimed at avoiding future health problems.
Why is Self-Care Important?
Studies show that taking time out to care for yourself, as little as 20-minutes a day, can improve your personal relationships, mental health, physical well-being, and can even lead to an increase in income.
Self-Care Action Plan
If you’ve ever been to physiotherapy, you’ll know that physiotherapists are passionate about preventative healthcare, so who better to ask than a physical therapist? If you’re not sure where to start, what to try, or how to take care of yourself with self-care, here are our top physio approved self-care tips you can do at home.
Get Active and Stay Active
Any physical activity is better than no activity, take small breaks throughout the day to stretch and walk around. Movement is how your body keeps your joints lubricated, and you need this lubrication to prevent stiffness and keep your joints moving smoothly. Not only that, but daily activity can lower your risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend getting 150 minutes of exercise per week, that’s only 20 minutes a day. Regular exercise is proven to improve both physical health and mental well being. Don’t have time to exercise? Try breaking your workout into smaller 10-minute increments.
Listen to Your Body and Pace Yourself
Ever hear the phrase, no pain no gain? Well, that’s not necessarily the truth. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Use pain as a signal to lower workout intensity or frequency and don’t push through it. Pushing through the pain can cause injuries and limit your progress in the long run. Give yourself permission to slow down, and stop if needed.
Get Enough Sleep and Rest
Just like it’s a bad idea to push through the pain, it’s also counterproductive to exhaust yourself. Allow for downtime in your day, plan rest periods and be sure to get enough sleep at night. If you push too hard one day or stay up way too late, you risk being unable to be active the next day.
Breathe, Relax, and Don’t Stress
We’ve talked about the harmful effects of stress on the body before. Battle it by taking a few moments to sit quietly and focus on your breathing, this alone can be very relaxing and help decrease your stress. You can also try a deeper form of breathing called diaphragmatic breathing.
Final Thoughts on Self-Care
Self-care, self-love, self-improvement, whatever you want to call it, the small things we do to take care of our physical and mental wellbeing have real measurable health impacts.