How to Practice Self-Care

Self-care isn’t always treating yourself to a dessert or purchasing something nice for yourself. It can be about your overall health and wellness. In this blog, we’re talking all about self-care, what it is, and how to add it into your routine.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care includes any activities we do in pursuit of improving our mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health. Think about the last time you did something for your own pleasure to improve your mood, reduce your stress levels or simply for your own enjoyment—that’s self-care!

Practicing self-care for your health can help prevent disease, limit illness, and restore your overall well-being.

General Steps for Self-Care

1. Eat a balanced diet. – You can talk to a nutritionist or dietitian, or look for resources like websites (ending in .org) or books. Myplate.gov has dietary guidelines about how much of each food group we should have on a daily basis.
You can also talk to your primary care provider about what a balanced diet might look like for you.
2. Take vitamins every day regardless of your age.
3. Get adequate sleep time. – Generally speaking, most people need at least eight hours of sleep. But everyone is different-—some people may only need six or seven hours to feel rested the next day. The most important thing is to get enough sleep to feel rested.
4. Incorporate exercise and physical activity into your routine. – At least 30 minutes/3x per week is enough to reap the health benefits of physical activity.
5. Don’t smoke. – Smoking can shorten the lifespan of someone by 10 years. It can also cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, COPD, or other illnesses. If you’re having trouble stopping, we can help you learn some coping skills at the Family Health Clinic.
6. Practice relaxation skills. – When you practice relaxation, it can slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure, slow breathing rates, improve digestion, and improve blood sugar levels. It can also reduce the activity of stress hormones, increase the blood flow to major muscles, and help reduce muscle tension and chronic pain.
7. Limit your alcohol intake. – Frequent alcohol consumption in large quantities can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, digestive problems, cancer, weakened immune system, learning and memory problems (that lead to Dimensia), depression/anxiety, relational/social issues, physical injuries, alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behaviors, still birth, fetal alcohol syndrome, and more.
8. Schedule regular healthcare appointments. – This includes dentists, eye doctors, specialists, general practitioners, and any other healthcare provider that fits your health needs.
9. Take your medications as recommended. – Don’t change the dosage or stop usage without consulting your medical provider.
10. Take care of your spiritual needs. – Whatever this means for you—it could mean going to church, holding to your personal values and beliefs, praying, journaling, or engaging with your community.
11. See a mental health professional if you need it. – If you’re not feeling your best, it can help to see a professional who knows how to approach your situation.

Self-Care Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

All self-care doesn’t look the same! There are many everyday tasks that you might already incorporate into your routine that help reduce your stress levels and improve your mood.

Here are seven self-care activities you probably already do that you might not have thought about:

1. Practice adequate hygiene. – Getting a haircut, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and taking care of your appearance counts as self-care!
2. Do house chores. – When your house is clean, your mental health can improve! You’ll be able to rest properly if your house is clean and you can enjoy your space.
3. Take a nap. – Naps can be a great break during your day and help you to re-energize for your tasks! However, if you nap for more than 30-45 minutes, it can potentially impact your sleep at night.
4. Pay your bills on time. – If you’re constantly behind on bills, that can cause stress and mental health issues. Being on time for bills can help clear your mind of financial stress.
5. Practice hobbies. – You should enjoy your downtime! Any hobby that gives you enjoyment can add to your overall well being.
6. Take breaks. – Taking short breaks throughout your work day can help you stay focused and on task when you are working. It can also reduce stress during difficult tasks.
7. Socialize. – Socializing with friends and family is important to your mental health! Getting dinner or coffee with friends, or playing a game with your family can help lift your spirits.

Self-Care for Chronic Illnesses

What about self care for those with chronic illnesses? Having a chronic illness makes it even more important to take measures to protect your health and wellbeing. Again, this doesn’t have to be difficult, but it is important to be very intentional about self-care when you have a chronic illness.

Diabetes
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, 10.5% of the U.S. population lives with diabetes. Here are 7 essential healthcare behaviors for those living with diabetes:

  1. Eat a balanced diet
  2. Lead a physically active lifestyle
  3. Monitor blood sugar levels
  4. Take medications as prescribed
  5. Practice good problem solving skills
  6. Practice healthy coping skills
  7. Reduce risky behaviors

 

 

General Chronic Illness

For more general chronic illnesses, here are 6 tips for self-care:

  1. Keep going to your appointments to monitor any changes.
  2. Schedule an appointment with a specialist, if needed.
  3. Take your medications as prescribed.
  4. Never change the dosage or stop usage without consulting your medical provider.
  5. Talk to a nutritionist or dietitian.
  6. Incorporate exercise or physical activity.

Ask your medical provider what you are physically able to do with your chronic illness.

Educate yourself about your chronic illness.