Despite the anticipation of summer with its lure of warm, lazy days, for many of us, it rarely works out that way. That sunshine can mean more social obligations with friends, a need to program and supervise a full day of activities for children home while school’s out and an end to the ready excuse of putting off house repairs until the weather permits.
And then soon enough, it’s the other side of Labor Day and you’re wondering where it all went and why you’re feeling more run down than you were heading into what you thought was going to be your summer.
Luckily, back in 2011, the International Self Care Foundation (ISCF) established International Self-Care Day to remind you, every July 24th, to make sure you’re putting the importance of your health first.
According to the ISF, there are 7 pillars of self-care – we’ve shared them below with some insights that can help you make this self-care day Many of these are topics that we’ve covered in-depth in previous dispatches from our blogs. If you’re looking for self-care inspiration and some more tips on how to make these a reality in your life, we encourage you to visit our archives and dive in!
- Knowledge and Health Literacy: As a series of G.I. Joe PSAs from the 80 expertly cautioned, “knowing is half the battle”. If you’re not aware of the benefits or consequences of your health and welling choices, how can you make sure to optimize yourself for success? Research, look at your family’s medical history, talk to your doctor and take control of your health. Knowledge is power!
- Mental Wellbeing, Self Awareness & Agency:
While your self-care capabilities might be limited by poor health, it’s
hard to even begin the road to taking better care of yourself if you don’t have
the motivation or mindset to begin the journey.Having the critical self-awareness
to identify the challenges and the willpower to improve upon them is a key
building block to achieving the 5 other pillars. Some tips: measure your health
status and habits and discard those that aren’t beneficial. Focus on reducing
stressors and integrating routines that can provide
mental and physical clarity, like daily walks. Finally, agency – your
ability to apply these changes – be honest with yourself on what you can
achieve and work to meet your goals, within reason. Another tip here: focus
on small steps first, then shift to the larger goal.
- Physical Activity: Mens sans in corpore sano – a famous Latin phrase that translates to a healthy body can sustain a healthy mind.The overwhelming body of medical and scientific literature backs this up. When it comes to self-care, it can be too easy to see physical activity as a vanity project, “do I need to go to the gym? I’m happy with how I look”. While a powerful self-esteem and resilient body-image is a great element of strong self-care tendencies, recognizing that the human body is a machine that requires physical activity to keep it running efficiently is important too. No matter what, achieving a level of physical activity that’s realistic for you will be more beneficial than none at all. You’ll also appreciate some of the social benefits of group physical activity too!
- Healthy Eating: I am fond of clichés
because they tend to impart traditional wisdom in fun fashion. In this case,
“you are what you eat” –how can you expect to feel well if you’re not
eating well? While the internet
is rife with misinformation on fad diets, there are plenty of good
resources to draw from, in case you’re searching for clarity. For instance,
look to Canada’s recently updated
Food Guide, which not only covers types of food and portion sizes but also
points to the benefits of eating with others, being aware of food marketing and
cooking at home as well.
- Risk Avoidance or Mitigation: What’s more self-care relevant than caring to avoid uncareful situations?Whether it’s really looking both ways before crossing the street or making sure you’re up to date on your vaccinations, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While it may come as no surprise for many, particularly mothers, men are more likely to take risks that could jeopardize their health, like crossing a busy road at a “risky” time, as evidenced in one study. For another relevant cliché, look to Shakespeare: discretion is the better part of valor. The gist: take the time to weigh the pros and cons, act prudently and objectively and avoid rash behaviours.
- Good Hygiene: More than just smelling good, hygiene is an important part of your overall health. Not only will it impact your social interactions but things like brushing your teeth regularly can have a significant impact on other, seemingly unrelated health outcomes, like lowering your chance of heart risk or reducing your depressive symptoms. Hygiene is such a big part of self-care that we tend to focus on it the most, to the detriment of the other pillars discussed here. Why? It’s much easier to focus on showering regularly than it is to ask the uncomfortable questions about our own wellbeing and bad habits. Ultimately, because it might be the easier part of your self-care checklist to cross off, it can be a great foundation to ensure the rest of your pillars are built firmly.
- Rational & Responsible Use of Self-Care Products and Services: Repeat after me: detox teas are not self-care. Keeping up with the latest fitness fad or broadcasting your perfect life isn’t self-care. Whether it’s because it’s snake-oil or it’s motivated by the wrong reasons, it’s important to differentiate between what’s good for you and what isn’t. We’ve come full circle to #1: Knowledge and Health Literacy. Make sure you’re not relying on dubious products and face masks as the keystone in your self-care routine and look to foster and adopt practices that help bring you mental clarity, as opposed to the ill mental health effects of social media obsession.
Ultimately, you know you better than anyone else. What does it take to recharge your batteries? What can you start doing today that’ll make for a better tomorrow? Today, forget about everyone else and plot out a day, just for you and a course for a happier and healthier future. In other words…