September is all about self care, a vital component of our lives. I’m not sure how many of us take time for self care but here’s why it is so important.
WHO defines self-care as:
WHO 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”.World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO continues to state:
Self-care is broad concept which also encompasses hygiene (general and personal); nutrition (type and quality of food eaten); lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure, etc.); environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.); socioeconomic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.); and self-medication. Core principles: Fundamental principles for self-care include aspects of the individual (e.g. self-reliance, empowerment, autonomy, personal responsibility, self-efficacy) as well as the greater community (e.g. community participation, community involvement, community empowermentWorld Health Organization (WHO)
This may sound a little complex to us, but basically self care means looking after ourself for our own betterment, so we have continued health and wellness, and so we can help others as well.
The number of searches for “self-care” has more than doubled since 2015, according to Google Trends. It is part of how we cope better with daily stress, and I am sure we all have plenty of stress – from work all the way to caring for dependents.
In addition, since the pandemic, we have all been cut off from each other for durations of time – some of us even up to now – and this has caused us to feel lonely and isolated.
We shouldn’t mistake self-improvement for self-care though – even if it can be a part of self care. Self care is a nurturing experience of the present, and not working hard in the present to be better in the future. So while exercising for enjoyment is self care, exercising to lose fat is not. It really is all about intention and mindset.
What can you do for self-care?
There are many things we can do for ourselves for self care. So long as the activity you choose leaves you feeling refreshed, restored and reinvigorated, the activity you choose is probably self-care.
These broad principles should give you some guidance as to what you can do:
- Self care for the body – everything that leaves you feeling refreshed, restored and reinvigorated after is self-care. So I may point out that some of us may enjoy deep-fried food saturated in salt and oil, and it tastes awesome at that time, but it doesn’t really leave us feeling refreshed, restored or reinvigorated (admit it! 😆). Wholesome food and exercise that you enjoy are two good broad ideas for body self-care.
- Self care for your inner self – this component deals with managing our emotions, feelings and also spiritual activities that help to do the same. Skills and tools used include stress management tools, mindfulness practices, and mind body modalities such as yoga.
- Care for your community – people are communal, whether we have an introverted personality or not. We do need to have relationships, so nurturing friendships within in our family and community is important for our self care. Connection to others in meaningful activities play a part in our self care.