July 24 is International Self-Care Day
The pandemic has amplified our very real and perceived stresses and caused us to re-examine how we care for ourselves; to revisit the idea that “self-care” is somehow self-indulgent rather than an essential act of self-respect.
Self-care is not about the occasional day of pampering. It’s about making a conscious choice to replenish and show gratitude to yourself. it’s about cultivating a habit of looking after yourself, making informed and empowered decisions for your health and seeking out the supports you need to ensure your holistic wellbeing.
It’s by nurturing ourselves that we are able to truly provide this same kindness and care for others.
Whole Heart’s Tips for Self-Care
Our experts have put together a list of tips and Whole Heart resources to help you get your self-care habits in check:
1. Sleep hygiene
Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is key and there are habits that can be developed to support that:
- Be consistent about going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.
- Get some exercise daily – physical activity during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Limit all screen use before bed.
- A bedroom that is quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature is best.
- If you’re practicing good sleep hygiene and still seeing sleep challenges in your family, family due to other concerns, it can help to talk to someone. Get in touch with our team here: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/registration-form-page/
2. Healthy, balanced diet
- What we eat affects our bodies and our minds, and research is increasingly showing the impact of food on our mood!
- Food can affect the development, prevention, and management of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety disorders.
- Studies are exploring the effects of food on organisms in the intestinal tract, neuroplasticity (brain’s ability to modify structure, wiring and function), oxidative stress (cellular damage) and chronic inflammation
- You can learn more about the link between food and mood, as well as ways to incorporate healthier options into meals by consulting with a nutritionist. Whole Heart is offering a program in August to help teach parents and adults working with children and teens how to better support their relationship with food and exercise. You can learn more here: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/fostering-positive-relationships-around-diet-exercise/
The pandemic starkly revealed how much social connection impacts our overall wellbeing.
- Connect with new and old friends virtually or safely in person when possible
- Snuggle with pets
- Join in activities that spark connection and interest
- If getting outside and connecting with others is a struggle for your child/teen find out more about our Activation Worker resource in Durham Region! https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/activation-worker-durham-location/
- Need help outside of the Durham region? Contact us here: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/contact/
Meditation and mindfulness can help us to calm our minds, increase pleasure and joy in our day-to-day activities, build compassion and gratitude for ourselves and others and gain clarity around things that can be difficult. Meditation and mindfulness allow us to cultivate amazing tools that we can carry with us wherever we go! Try this grounding technique that can help shift focus away a busy mind into the present moment:
While breathing in and out of your nose, identify in order:
- 5 things I see
- 4 things I am touching
- 3 things I hear
- 2 things I smell
- 1 thing I taste
If you want to discover the benefits of meditation as part of your self-care, check out our Virtual Walking Meditation Group: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/walking-meditation/
5. Get out in nature
Research shows that spending even 20 minutes a day outside can help reduce anxiety, lower depression and boost overall mood. Set a goal of trying to build this into your weekly routine; pick a new walking route, try a new trail, or just sit outside. For a great map of nature trails to add to your self care tool kit visit: https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/nature-self-care-toolkit/
Physical activity has a significant impact and benefits on mental health and is often part of an integrated strategy for management of overall health and wellbeing. Benefits can include:
- Lifting mood by releasing endorphins that enhance feelings of well-being
- Creating a healthy distraction from negative thoughts
- Building confidence in achieving skills or goals
- Creating social interaction
- Fostering a healthy outlet for stress
Our Virtual Walking Meditation Group incorporates physical activity, meditation, mindfulness, socialization and getting out in nature: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/walking-meditation/
7. Talk to someone
Self-care includes recognizing that we all need someone to talk to. Having support and connection is essential at the best of times. But if you are struggling or actively supporting someone in managing their mental health journey, taking care of yourself takes on an increasing level of importance. Not sure where to begin? Reach out and let us help guide and support you https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/contact/
At Whole Heart, we hope that on International Self-Care Day you’ll be reminded to check in with yourself regularly, ask how you’re doing, what you need, and prioritize the response. Remember: Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.