Making Time for Physical Self-Care
Self-care is important for both our physical and mental health as well as for overall well-being. Self-care has been shown to improve well-being while contributing to lower morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs (Riegel et al., 2021).
Riegel et al. identified important reasons for why people may struggle to perform self-care. These reasons include: lack of motivation to change, attachment to unhealthy behaviors, difficulty deciding when in lifespan to adopt a healthy lifestyle, as well as difficulty in maintaining a healthy behavior over time. Additionally, difficulty integrating self-care across health conditions, life events that interact with illness and may interfere with healthy behavior, and inadequate response to symptoms are other reasons why people may struggle to perform and maintain physical self-care.
In this fast-paced world we live in, it is important to make the time to care for your body and mind and all of the *amazing* things they allow you to do!
Consider these steps to make time for physical self-care this month:
Schedule it in and make it a priority Use a physical or digital schedule or calendar to block time to move your body and prioritize physical self-care. Consider creating a routine with day(s) of the week to be active to make it easier to keep up with the movement on a weekly basis. Consider obtaining social support from family, friends, acquaintances, and/or your Registered Dietitian to prevent skipping this time for yourself. Be kind to yourself and reflect on any barriers that may get in the way of taking the time you prioritized for yourself to continue to find ways to make it a priority.
Choose movement you enjoy Instead of thinking of "exercise", consider making physical self-care about moving your body in ways you enjoy and that help you to feel your best. Think of types of movement that may bring about positive emotions and sensations. For example, I love to do yoga for increased strength and flexibility and relaxation while running increases my energy levels and allows me to feel warmer and looser. Make a list of these activities and consider one to try this month, if you are not already making the time to do it!
Have fun with trying new things Trying new activities for movement can help build your confidence, keep your brain healthy, and build new muscles that you may not use during typical workouts. It can also be fulfilling and a lot of fun to learn a new skill! Consider activities you have not previously tried before as a way to switch up your physical self-care routine and keep it exciting.
Enjoy the great outdoors Moving outdoors and getting some fresh air, sun, and blue skies can be a wonderful experience for physical self-care while also providing the positive mental health benefits of exposure to nature. Nature exposure has been found to have associations with improved cognitive function, brain activity, blood pressure, mental health, physical activity, and sleep (Jimenez et al., 2021). Set some time to move your body in the great outdoors, if you can!
Be grateful of your body and what it allows you to do!
Such as with any form of self-care, it's important to practice gratitude as a piece of self-care. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, grateful, and appreciative. The practice of gratitude is an aspect of mindfulness that can be incorporated within your physical self-care practice. Consider appreciating your body and yourself, appreciating your environment, and appreciating how you feel as you practice physical self-care. Reflecting on these emotions and sensations and thanking yourself for making the time for self-care can help make you happier and more motivated to keep up with your self-care practice.
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