The importance of self-care definitely extends to purely physical aspects of your health. Physical activity is vital not only for your bodily well-being but also for helping you let off steam.
You might think there’s nothing fun or self-compassionate about going to the gym, but that’s far too narrow a way of thinking about physical self-care.
Physical Self-Care encompasses – physical exercise for strength but it also includes rest and restoration to maintain physical health. It includes nutrition and it even includes how we think – how we talk to ourselves.
What you put into your body matters. Eating the right foods contributes to your physical health and well being – Eating well is a form of physical self-care.
This doesn’t mean that you have to become a total health nut, but drinking enough water (try for 60-80oz per day) and adding in some leafy greens can make a drastic difference in your day. Start each meal with a large glass of water before you sit down to enjoy. Also, I’ve found that the mindset of “how can I add more vegetables to this meal?” is a great way to get as many nutrients as you can throughout the day.
Something important to keep in mind – healthy fats are your friend. Some quick and easy sources are avocados, extra virgin olive oil, salmon, flax and chia seeds.
Personally, I like to think of food as a powerful form of self care. It’s a lot of small decisions throughout the day that all have the power to make me feel like the best version – or the worst version – of myself. If you choose to fuel yourself with food that makes you feel nourished and taken care of 80% of the time, the other 20% you can enjoy life’s treats without any guilt or frustration. Eating well doesn’t have to be an all or nothing mindset.
Aim for a healthy diet. We are privileged enough to live in a first-world country where quality food is available to us.
Eat Healthy foods: Fruits, vegetables and lean proteins are the mainstay of a healthy diet.
Consume minimal caffeine and alcohol
Avoid processed foods. The basic definition of processed foods includes food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving or preparing in different ways. It has a spectrum. There are foods that are lightly processed and those that are heavily processed. The trick is to distinguish between foods that have been lightly processed versus heavily processed.
Lightly processed foods include pre-cut apple slices, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna and frozen vegetables. These are nutritious choices and can make healthy eating more convenient for busy people.
Heavily processed foods can be recognized as food not in its original form, like potato chips and crackers, or food that is not naturally occurring, such as sodas, donuts, cookies and candy.
Processed foods are blamed for our nation’s obesity epidemic, high blood pressure and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. Try to eat as many naturally occurring foods as possible, also called “clean eating”! Do more cooking and food prep at home to maximize control over the food you are consuming.
MOVE WHEN YOU CAN – REST WHEN YOU NEED TO
Be Active often:
- Dance to your favorite songs
- Do yoga – Even if you’ve never tried it, there are poses that are perfect for beginners.
- Join a class and learn a new sport.
- Go running with your dog (or a friend’s)!
- Cycle through the countryside.
- Simply go for a walk
- Go on a 15 minute walk in your neighborhood
- Park the car further away than usual and enjoy that walk across the parking lot
- Opt for the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
- Find a local gym or studio and sign up for some classes that might interest you
Rest when you need to:
Learn to recognize when your body needs to recharge.
Remember that physical self-care is as much about the things you don’t do as the things you do! So:
- Nap when you need to. Just 20 minutes can make you feel mentally and physically refreshed.
- Say “no” to invitations when you’re simply too tired to enjoy them.
- Don’t push yourself to do your exercise routine when you’re run down or unwell.
- Commit to 7-9 hours of sleep per night, barring exceptional circumstances.
Remember that your thoughts matter:
More and more, science shows us that the thoughts we think, such as, “I feel exhausted” or, “I feel overworked” or “I feel stressed out” or “I feel so out of sync with my body” or “I feel like I’m on a treadmill and I’m barely surviving” actually impact our neurophysiology and ultimately impact the health and behavior of the 37 trillion cells in our body. Feeding your cells with negative thoughts can and does typically manifests itself as an autoimmune condition. Yes, if you are walking around feeling unwell, you could be dealing with an autoimmune condition that is rooted in cellular hostility, or said another way, your body attacking itself- cellularly by way of your thoughts.
Contemplate the following from stem-cell biologist and author of The Biology of Belief Bruce Lipton:
“The cells [in your body] are maintained by a culture medium, popularly known as blood. The brain is the regulatory organ that regulates and maintains the chemical composition of the blood. The brain’s control of the blood’s chemistry is linked to our perceptions (mind) and emotions (reflecting chemical signals in the blood). When you have a perception of love, the brain releases oxytocin (love hormone that regulates body’s metabolism and supports growth), serotonin and growth hormone, ALL chemicals that when added to cells in a culture dish will enhance growth and health of the cells. In contrast, when a person is in fear, their brain releases stress hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine and histamine) that shut down a cell’s growth processes and inhibits the immune system, which happens to be completely unsustainable for life.
The average person has about fifty thousand thoughts each day, and each thought influences the chemical messengers in your brain and how your body functions. That means your thoughts are a part of your illness and your wellness. The Body Belief plan will reconnect you to yourself and renew your body beliefs so that you can begin to hear the conversation you are having with yourself, change the tone of it from one of hostility to one of kindness, and create a loving environment in your body for your health to thrive.”