Self-care is a broadly used term to describe what people do for themselves to maintain health and prevent or deal with illness. International Self Care Day is July 24th but of course focusing on our wellness is something that is important in all aspects of our life every day!
Why is self-care important?
Taking notice of your mind and body is key in checking in to see if your lifestyle is leading to positive or negative results. Self-care puts an emphasis on preventing disease and illness through making informative decisions such as saying no to a risky situation or going for a bike ride to de-stress as needed.
According to the International Self-Care Foundation, there are 7 pillars of self-care.
- Health literacy
- Physical activity
- Healthy eating
- Risk avoidance
- Good hygiene
- Rational use of products and services
Health literacy is about understanding information and using it to make informed decisions about your health. The ability to understand and implement health information, such as knowing to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night on a balanced schedule, eating breakfast and drinking lots of water is an important part of self-care.
Self-awareness is about being informed about your health. This pillar includes understanding one’s own mental and physical health status whether that is internalized knowledge or knowledge of medical records and tests. Furthermore, self-awareness is about how satisfied you are with your life as well as feeling a sense of belonging and support from the community you are in. This information provides a starting point for all future self-care activities.
Regular exercise, especially outdoors, improves health, fitness, mood and sleep. There are many benefits that come with exercise for both mental and physical well-being. For example, regular exercise such as 20-30 mins of walking per day is the first lifestyle change recommended for people diagnosed with diabetes.
Generally, a healthy diet reduces the risk of diet-related diseases which is a major aspect of self-care. Therefore, self-care through healthy eating can have preventative benefits but it is also an important part of treating illnesses.
Part of self-care includes avoiding or reducing any risky behaviors that will directly increase risk of disease or death. Many factors make up this aspect of self-care such as avoiding sunburns, driving carefully, and not smoking. Avoiding high-risk behaviors to reduce preventable mortality is one of the easiest yet most significant ways to benefit yourself.
Good hygiene through maintaining health and preventing the spread of diseases is possible if there is access to good sanitation. On a broader scale, good hygiene depends on the available resources a community offers that allows individuals to practice hygiene. Self-care through good hygiene includes hand washing, brushing teeth, flossing and showering.
The responsible use of health products and services is also an important part of self-care. Services and products such as prescription medicine, preventative health care products, and wellness and health services are tools for self-care. This pillar is mainly about the correct use of self-care tools to manage individual health.
Now that you know what the 7 pillars of self-care are, you’re ready to start taking steps in positive directions!