By Daphne Grech Cumbo, Up your Level , Wellness Coach

We all advocate about the importance of self-care. I don’t think I ever heard anyone publicly say otherwise. However when the topic of self care comes up, there seems to be confusion around it. Some people look at it from an acute angle focused on one area or practice, some base it on preconceived notions, for others it is defined by an authority and for some it must make a huge splash !  

In this blog series, I will discuss the fundamentals of self-care, how we can tap into each one, discover what we are already doing for ourselves, and how we can use the foundations we’ve already built to have a holistic, yet realistic plan for consistent self-care. 

So… what is self-care? 

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”.

The organisation goes on to expand on the factors that incorporate self-care including: nutrition, hygiene, lifestyle, socio-economic status, environment and self-medication. It highlights the importance of the individual’s conscious choice to practice self-care by responding to symptoms and leading a lifestyle that promotes both mental and physical health that will enhance wellbeing and prevent disease.

This first edition in this self-care blog series, will focus on just that.  

The foundations of self-care 

Our wellbeing relies on both the physical and mental aspect, which allow everything else to function including our social, spiritual and professional side which we will address in the following versions.

Today, we’ll explore the the physical aspect of self-care in more detail, and the common obstacles that prevent us from taking better care of our bodies: 

Physical self-care is all about satisfying our basic primal needs, which include: 

Nourishment

Nourishing ourselves with a healthy variety of foods and feeding the right amount of nutrients to our brain and body will allow it to perform it’s daily functions in an optimum state. 

  • What stops us from nourishing our bodies in the right manner? Unhealthy eating patterns can arise from lack of resources, availability, misinformation or unhealthy relationships with food which can be influenced by society, personal experiences or the culture we are living in. 

Finding our nutritional sweetspot that we can sustain in the long term is key here. A mix of nutritional basics, gentle discipline, positivity and acceptance will enable us to eat well for life.

Movement 

Moving our bodies regularly can range from including short walks in our day, participating in a sport, fitness, dance or yoga class, swimming, cycling to errands, running after our kids or simply stretching in the comfort of our home. Like any machine, if left stagnant, our bodies will start to play up in the form of injuries, undesirable health conditions and can also impact our mental health. 

  • One of the largest attributes to lack of movement is our largely sedentary lifestyle which many professionals and students lead. The most accessible entertainment options usually also call for a  seated position including on-screen interactive or passive relaxation, dining out, socialising over drinks, reading, lounging on a sunbed… 

There is a more actionable effort required to break out of the sedentary lifestyle and we use the excuse of time or resources but it very often lies in motivation…

Rest & Recovery 

It is just as important to give the body adequate rest in the form of a regular good night sleep, recovery after an illness, injury or trauma and body kindness in the form of a massage, long bath or practising restorative postures such as putting your legs up against the wall after a tiring day. 

  • When we read stories about people like Trump who thrives on just 4 hours sleep and how we have to charge hard to win and achieve, we feel guilty for giving our bodies the adequate time to rest !

It has been proven by scientific studies over and over again that we need 7-9 hours sleep per night to function optimally. Our bodies show us when it needs to recover or restore itself, if only we listen to it!

Maintenance

Going for regular medical checkups and responding to symptoms immediately will help prevent disease or treat it immediately. Medical self-care also includes scheduling personalised check-ups based on hereditary conditions or illness in our family history. 

  • How many excuses can we find to miss our health check-ups or find a way to mute a pain with painkillers until it “goes away”?

We sometimes practice selective listening, whether it comes from our body our health advisors, and act the opposite way we would advise a loved one to in that situation…

Reflection 

From the examples above, reflect on how many physical self-care practices you already do and which ones you would like to improve on. Next look at your obstacles and have a think about how you can overcome them. 

In the next blog we will discuss mental self-care and the challenges linked to it. 

If you would like a guide to complement your self-care journey, reach out to Daphne for a free 121. Contact [email protected]om or call 79441382 to schedule a 30-minute call. 

If you enjoy group sessions, we have a wellness masterclass series starting this month. Check out the link for details: https://upyourlevel.com/product/fire-up-your-wellness-masterclass-series/