*This article was originally published by pt Health, which is part of the Lifemark family
The dictionary definition of self-care is healthcare you provide to yourself, often without the guidance or help of a healthcare professional. A typical example of this is taking over-the-counter pain medication.
In the last few years, the meaning of “self-care” has shifted, becoming more widely used on television and in the news. By “self-care”, we now mean anything you can do to align your mind and your body and improve your mental and physical well-being. Many self-care tips are aimed at avoiding future health problems.
While the term “self-care” is becoming more popular, it’s more than just a buzzword. Here’s why self-care matters.
A self-care action plan
Studies show that taking some time to care for yourself, which can be as little as 20-minutes a day, can improve your personal relationships, mental health, physical well-being, and can even lead to an increase in income.
But where to start with self-care? If you’ve ever consulted a physiotherapist, you know that physios are passionate about preventative healthcare, so here are 4 physio-approved self-care tips you can do at home.
1. Get active (and stay active!)
Any physical activity is better than no activity. Take small breaks throughout the day to stretch and walk around. Movement is how your body keeps your joints lubricated and you need this lubrication to prevent stiffness and keep your joints moving smoothly. Not only that, but daily activity can lower your risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend getting 150 minutes of exercise per week, which is only 20 minutes a day. Regular exercise is proven to improve both physical health and mental well-being. Don’t have time to exercise? Try breaking your workout into smaller 10-minute increments.
2. Listen to your body
Ever hear the phrase, no pain no gain? Well, that’s not necessarily true. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Use pain as a signal to lower workout intensity or frequency and don’t push through it. Pushing through the pain can cause injuries and limit your progress in the long run. Give yourself permission to slow down, and stop if needed.
3. Get enough sleep and rest
Just like it’s a bad idea to push through the pain, it’s also counterproductive to exhaust yourself. Allow for downtime in your day, plan rest periods and be sure to get enough sleep at night. If you push too hard one day or stay up way too late, you risk being unable to be active the next day.
4. Breathe, relax and don’t stress
Stress can have all kinds of harmful effects on your body. To battle it, take a few moments to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. This alone can be very relaxing and help decrease your stress. You can also try a deeper form of breathing called diaphragmatic breathing.
Final thoughts on self-care
Self-care proves that the small things we do to take care of our physical and mental well-being can have real, measurable health impacts.
If you’re battling stress, chronic pain or fatigue, a physiotherapist can help. To consult a Lifemark clinician, check out our Locations page to find a Lifemark clinic near you or book online to schedule an appointment.