“Our bodies are our garden to which our wills are gardeners” – William Shakespeare
Self-care is defined as intentional personal health maintenance. Self-care is not self-indulgence, responding to cravings, being selfish, or an activity solely done alone. It is active participation in maintaining one’s health by developing healthy habits. Self-care involves discovering sense of purpose, physical wellbeing, developing healthy relationships, investing in the community, and respecting the environment. A healthier lifestyle is associated with an increased total life expectancy and reduction of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Now that we have discussed what self-care is and the benefits, let’s get into the details!
What exactly do we mean by “mindfulness”? This involves choosing and learning to control our focus of attention nonjudgmentally. This aims to cultivate a stable and nonreactive present moment awareness. Practicing mindfulness is associated with decreased weight, binge eating, depression, stress, pain, blood pressure, and enhanced immune and cognitive function. A brief technique can be used anytime to bring you back to the present moment such as deep breathing, active listening, or noticing the room around you.
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfully Eating Practice
Ask yourself: are you really hungry? How do you know? What is the feeling? Observe how the food looks, its color, size, and shape. How does it smell? Notice the sound it makes as your teeth crunch down as you chew slowly. Feel the texture of the food on your tongue. Notice the complexity of its taste. Every few bites put the fork or spoon down. Direct your attention back to your gut, are you satisfied yet? Stop eating when you feel satisfied. Be thankful for the food as it is nourishing you. Consider all the farmers, workers, chefs, and everyone who helped bring you the nourishment.
At least 150 minutes of exercise is recommended per week and good news, there appears to be no difference between the health benefits of continuous and accumulated patterns of exercise! So get moving throughout your day! Here are some tips for being less sedentary: take the stairs, park further away, Invite a friend to meet you for a walk rather than for drinks, Stand and walk around every time you’re on the phone, Instead of staying home, go to the park, mall, or museum and walk around. The benefits of exercise are numerous including weight control, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, reduces the risk of depression and anxiety, improves memory and learning, and strengthening bones and muscles.
Chronic stress is a major health problem linked to most forms of chronic disease including, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Do you have daily stress reduction techniques? Here are some tips: Step back and look at the big picture, the more perspective you can gain the smaller and more manageable obstacles will seem. Accept failure as part of the process, see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, not to retreat. Be connected, surround yourself with people that make you feel good and support you. Accept help, novel perspectives can offer comfort and revelations. LAUGH!