That is a good question? If asked, I think many of us would admit that we are not great at self-care because we equate self-care with being self-indulgent or being selfish. We feel like taking care of ourselves is taking time away from others and that causes us anxiety and guilt. The truth is, that practicing self-care results in a healthier version of ourselves so we can help others more effectively. The World Health Organization states that self-care is critical to our well-being and defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
Self-care can mean different things to different people but includes activities related to staying physically, mentally and emotionally healthy through exercise, nutrition and seeking medical care when needed. Marni Amsellem, a licensed psychologist defines self-care as, “anything that you do for yourself that feels nourishing. That can be something relaxing or calming, or it can be something that is intellectual or spiritual or physical or practical or something you need to get done.”
Self-care requires us to keep tabs on our body and how we are feeling both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, a lack of self-care often leads to people ignoring injuries, especially chronic ones that have been an issue for quite some time. We tend to push seeking treatment like physiotherapy to the bottom of our list because we are too busy taking care of others in our lives, and making sure all their needs are met. In doing so we are depleting our own energy and making it harder for our body to heal from the chronic injury, and therefore prolonging our own suffering. The team at A Body In Motion Rehabilitation can help you make self-care a priority and enable you to regain your function, strength and energy.
Brighid Courtney, a client leader at the wellness technology company Wellable, states that “When self-care is regularly practiced, the benefits are broad and have even been linked to positive health outcomes such as reduced stress, improved immune system, increased productivity and higher self-esteem.”
If you’re like me, you’re currently asking yourself how you will incorporate self-care into your already hectic schedule. The good news is that self-care doesn’t always require hours out of your day and doesn’t have to cost a cent. Self-care can be as easy as focusing on your breathing for 5 minutes each day. Allowing your mind to focus only on your slow and steady breathing will help reduce stress and anxiety. Self-care can be as simple as allowing yourself to take a bubble bath or having coffee with a friend. It can include meditating for 5 minutes each day, taking a walk and noticing the sights and sounds surrounding you or keeping a gratitude journal or deciding to snuggle up with your favourite book. It can be anything that lets you take care of yourself. Research shows that exercise, finding purpose, healthy balanced eating, sleep and spending time outdoors are all self-care practices that have been linked to a longer life.
In order to get started and commit to a self-care routine, make a list what activities bring you joy and help promote positive energy and restore your balance. Start with an attainable goal and try to incorporate one of the activities from your list. If it’s too difficult to do that activity daily, try for a few times a week. Anything is better than nothing. Be kind and patient with yourself as you try to create a self-care routine. Once you are able, build onto your self-care routine by adding a new activity or increasing the frequency of your self-care activities. Be sure to reflect on how you feel and any improvements you notice. If needed, seek out support to help you commit to your self-care because if you are someone who is used to putting others ahead of yourself it can be challenging to incorporate self-care into your daily life. Just remember that “taking care of ourselves is the opposite of being selfish, as it strengthens us and enables us to support our loved ones better. We are no use to anyone if our energy is depleted because we have given every last bit of it away. Self-care is the antidote of stress, it builds resilience so we can better cope with challenges.” (Jo Ritchie, Tiny Buddha)