Self Care Isn't Selfish

July 24 was International Self-Care Day—an opportunity to raise awareness about self-care and the important role it plays in leading a healthy lifestyle.

Self-care is about taking care of yourself, making choices that help your physical and mental health, and learning how to help prevent or deal with illness. Taking notice of your mind and body is key to determining if your lifestyle is leading to positive or negative results.

The World Health Organization defines “self-care” as the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, and maintain health and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider.”

Health Canada informs us that the date chosen for International Self-Care Day (7/24) is a reminder that self-care is important to lifelong health, and its benefits are experienced 7 days a week, and 24 hours a day.

According to the International Self Care Foundation self-care is comprised of 7 different pillars, that when combined, result in physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, social, environmental, and professional well-being.

Health literacy – this relates to an individual’s motivation and ability to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to promote and maintain good health. It can be as simple as knowing that 7-8 hours of sleep a night, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth and drinking lots of water is important for self-care. It also includes knowing how to describe symptoms, where to find help for health issues, how to understand medical information and how to safely manage the use of medication or natural health products. The PWC Information and Referral program can help you expand your health literacy through our numerous health information resources.

Self-awareness includes knowing things about your body such as your body mass index (BMI), cholesterol level, and blood pressure. Engaging in health screening is also part of this pillar. Caring for your mental wellbeing is a key part of self-awareness; making sure areas such as life satisfaction, self-esteem and optimism are all in a positive place. Volunteering for the PWC is a very satisfying way to enhance your life, meet new friends and feel good about yourself.

Physical activity is about finding time in your day to get some form of moderate intensity physical activity such as walking, cycling, or participating in group activities like yoga, or the PWC Tai Chi program. Physical activity has a range of related benefits, such as reduced stress, increased mental health, improved sleep and reducing the risk of a hip or vertebral fracture, particularly in older people.

Healthy eating includes having a nutritious, balanced diet with appropriate levels of calorie intake. What we put in our bodies has a powerful influence on our overall wellbeing. An unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for chronic diseases and general poorer health.Choosing organic over processed or pesticide-filled foods, limiting your sugar and caffeine consumption and making sure you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need are all part of self-care. Some of the most amazing self-care foods include fatty fish, blueberries, nuts, green leafy veggies, and brassicas, like broccoli. The PWC Wellness Circle speakers, at times, include experts in the field of nutrition. Feel free to drop-in to these seminars when they return (currently on-hold due to Covid-19).

Risk avoidance or mitigation includes quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated, and using sunscreens. Stress and anxiety often occur when you try to quit smoking. To help reduce this, consider joining the PWC Meditation group.

Good hygiene includes washing hands regularly, brushing teeth, washing food and proper food preparation. Covid-19 has made this “self-care” pillar top of mind, as we continue to wash our hands regularly, wear masks when out in public, and remember to cough or sneeze into our bent arm.

Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics and medicines – includes being aware of dangers and using responsibly when necessary. With regard to medication, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following:

  • Always read the directions on the label and leaflet, and any other information you get with your medicine.

  • Follow instructions. Are there other medicines, foods, or activities (such as driving, drinking alcohol, or using tobacco) that you should avoid while using the medicine?

  • Have the pharmacist or doctor explain anything you do not understand.

  • Call your doctor right away if you have a serious side effect or if a side effect does not get better.

  • Complete the treatment course but if symptoms persist, consult a healthcare professional.

The first thing to remember about self-care is that it is not indulgent. The second, is to remember that even a small change can make a difference. The more you can work self-care time into your schedule, the better you’ll be able to grow, enjoy your life, and thrive.

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