Kellie Blake RDN,LD,IFNCP
September = Self-Care
September is Self-Care Month! Self-care can be defined as anything you do to take care of your physical, emotional, and/or mental health. Self-care should be actively-sought, individualized, and ever-changing. The needs of our bodies change over time, so our self-care routines need to be fluid and adaptable.
Working in any healthcare setting can be demanding and challenging. But, the year 2020 has been particularly stressful especially for healthcare workers. Just speaking to my colleagues daily has confirmed my suspicions that work-related stress has become excessive.
This occupational stress added to the stress of life's uncertainties can create a powerful cascade of negative events in the body. Before you know it, you may feel depressed, fatigued, moody, and anxious. You may experience digestive distress, weight gain, and difficulty sleeping.
How can you begin to reverse this process? A personalized self-care routine is a great
place to start.
I have always exercised and eaten fairly well, but I personally began to focus on the other important aspects of self-care to overcome my autoimmune disease. I had let unmanaged stress take over and the daily effects wore me down, leading to an exacerbation of my autoimmune disease symptoms. Practicing self-care has allowed me to improve not only my daily life, but my overall health.
When it comes to self-care, the options are really endless and you have to decide what works for your body. It requires listening to your body, which gives subtle and not so subtle clues. We have the opportunity every day to create health and happiness for ourselves.
Here are a few ways to practice self-care:
1. Schedule time for self-care and do not compromise. Work with your family to create a schedule that is doable for you and avoid letting your self-care take a back burner.
2. Keep a healthy sleep schedule. Try to follow the rhythm of your own biological clock – this is different for everyone. Try going to bed when you're sleepy and don't set an alarm clock. Take note of when you naturally awaken and this is likely your personal sleep cycle. It may be impossible due to your schedule to follow your own clock, but moving in that direction is important for overall sleep quality and health.
3. Consider practicing med. Consider taking a yoga class or just stretching your body every day. When the body is more physically flexible, we are better able to adapt. The physical benefits are great, but yoga is also a form of moving meditation and improves mental health by bringing down that stress response. or longer.
4. Keep your body flexible. Consider taking a yoga class or just stretching your body every day. When the body is more physically flexible, we are better able to adapt. The physical benefits are great, but yoga is also a form of moving meditation and improves mental health by bringing down that stress response. For more tips on yoga, check out this link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat
5. Nourish your body with healthy foods. There is no one right diet for everyone. We are all different and need different amounts of nutrients. But, in general, avoiding sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy oils will help reduce fatigue, moodiness, and cravings. Add in healthy fats, lots of vegetables, fermented foods, and water for an even greater benefit. Learn to cook your own meals and bring your own food to work.
6. Get outside every day. Even if it’s cold or inclement weather, it’s important to be grounded in nature. It’s healing for the mind and body. Take a walk on your lunch break, sit with the sun on your face, and/or eat your meals outside. Breathe in the fresh air and listen to the sounds of nature – this would also be a perfect time to do some meditation.
7. Move your body in mindful ways. If you don’t like exercise, find active hobbies as a substitute. If you sit at a desk all day, get up and move frequently.
8. Use essential oils. Essential oils are a great way to calm the mind, especially in stressful situations. They can be used orally, topically, and aromatically. Look for high-quality oils and use as directed.
Creating your self-care plan doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s all about what makes you feel great (as long as it’s health-promoting) and what will help you manage stress.
Some other great ideas include:
· Eating a home-cooked meal with your family
· Meeting a friend for a walk
· Drinking a nutrient-dense green smoothie
· Watching a movie
· Reading a book
· Getting a massage
· Having a date night with your spouse
· Going on vacation
· Learning a new hobby,
· Taking a bath before bed
· Hiking your favorite trail
If you need help creating a personalized self-care routine, contact us.