Self-Care: Taking Good Care of Yourself

July 24th is the International Self-care Awareness Day and SeniorsZen brings practical and easy to implement tips that will help you in achieving those year-end resolutions that are the hardest to come out of paper.

Let’s start understanding the concept of self-care

Self-care consists of intentional measures that you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health. It’s a collection of choices, habits and actions that you are responsible to make and that impact your health, preventing or caring for illnesses.

The International Self-Care Foundation (1) has come up with the 7 Pillars of Self-care to guide individuals in their role to care for their own health and wellness.

The 7 Pillars of Self-care

Pillar 1: Health literacy – Getting access to basic health information in order to make appropriate health decisions.

Pillar 2: Self-awareness of physical and mental condition – Being aware of state of health, such as knowing your body mass index, cholesterol and sugar level, blood pressure, etc.

Pillar 3: Physical activity – Practicing adequate physical activity regularly.

Pillar 4: Healthy eating – Having nutritious, balanced and sufficient diet, adhering to possible restrictions according to your health condition.

Pillar 5: Risk avoidance or mitigation –Staying away from tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated, using sunscreens.

Pillar 6: Good hygiene – Adopting good hygiene practices such as washing hands frequently, brushing teeth, washing food.

Pillar 7: Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics and medicines – Knowing the available health products and services, but conscious of the danger of inadequate self-medication and treatments.

 

How to put in practice our self-care plans

Most of the 7 Pillars could be considered common-sense, but the truth is that we often overlook and neglect them. Either because life gets busy and it’s hard to keep up with the clock, or because we may be coping with depression or other ailments that drain our motivation to take good care of us. Here we would like to offer some useful tips that will help you start and maintain a list of self-care practices for a healthier and happier life (3):

MINDFULLNESS

Years ago, I was given a tiny book called The Miracle of Being Awake, by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book changed the way I dealt with the simplest tasks in life, specially those that I didn’t like to do, like washing the dishes, for example, and I thought I should share with you who is seeking for an idea to get inspired to start or maintain self-care practices.

It was my first contact with the notion of mindfulness. As it says in the book: “There are two ways to wash the dishes: The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” (2)

It’s a very simple concept that may help you, as it has helped me. It consists of turning off the auto-pilot, keeping your mind alert to everything you are doing. If you have a certain resistance to do physical activities, for instance, make sure you do them while you pay attention to every detail of it, how your body is moving, how you are breathing, how your muscles contract and mentally describe to yourself what you are doing and what the sensations are.

Being fully conscious of the present moment will eventually turn the task more pleasant, while you make wise use of your time.

BABY STEPS

Start with feasible and easily achievable goals. If you need to eat more fruits, start by increasing your fruit intake adding a fruit per week. If you need to reduce sugar, start with a no-sugar Monday, for example. Baby steps will give you confidence that you need to concretize your plans.

SELF-CARE BUDDY

Invite a friend to join you in the plan to improve self-care practices. Establish goals together and encourage each other to pursue them.  

A START DATE

When you determine a set date, your mind will have a concrete time to get ready to start. This will significantly impact your motivation in a positive way.

SELF-CARE JOURNAL

Make sure to write down your progresses, even the smallest ones. This will boost your self-esteem and will help you to keep on going.

 

I hope this will inspire you to take good care of yourself!

Source:

1.      ISF – International Self-care Foundation. The Seven Pillars of Self-Care. http://isfglobal.org/practise-self-care/the-seven-pillars-of-self-care/
2.      NHAT, Hanh Thich. The Miracle of Being Awake. Buddhist Publication Society, 1980
3.     Self-care: A Revolutionary Movement. http://www.selfcareday.com/
​4.     Swimming Lady: Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives via Fair / No known copyright restrictions

 

Written by Eveline Pinto

 

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