Earlier this year, the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) released a study that called attention to the greater need for clearly defining and promoting self-care. The report, titled “Empowering Americans to Take Greater Responsibility for Their Health: A Roadmap for Building a National Self-Care Movement in the U.S,” discusses the heavy burden that’s been placed on the healthcare system as a result of a rapidly aging population and an overabundance of illness. Astonishingly, the report predicts that by 2030, medical expenses and productivity loss will cost an astronomical $42 trillion.
To ease the burden, healthcare experts are suggesting that Americans should start focusing on a comprehensive self-care plan; essentially finding ways to promote their own physical and mental well-being through self-advocacy.
According to trauma prevention expert Olga Phoenix, this can best be done by regularly focusing on six dimensions of care: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional. Her Self-Care Wheel breaks down the key elements you’ll need to address in each dimension. Let’s look at four self-care habits you should take up immediately.
One of the components that 80 percent of Americans are failing on is physical fitness. And these sedentary lifestyles are catching up to us in the form of illnesses like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, anxiety, and depression.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week for optimal health. You can choose from a variety of activities such as cycling, hiking, swimming, dancing, or running.
If you really hate exercise, try something that’s more fun, such as a game of golf, geocaching, tag with the kids, or hiking in the woods. Green exercise is scientifically linked to improving your immune system, restoring a healthy sleep cycle, and boosting your mood.
Get Enough Sleep
Most people don’t fully understand the effects poor sleep can have on their body. Sleep deprivation is linked to higher blood pressure, mood changes, a weakened immune system, an increase in accidents, a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, weight gain, trouble concentrating, and even poor balance -- just to name a few.
To improve your sleep, you’ll need to improve your sleep environment as well as change some of your habits. Here’s some things the National Sleep Foundation recommends.
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule.
- Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Buy shades that darken the room.
- Use a noise machine to make peaceful ocean or rain sounds.
- Eliminate caffeine in the later part of your day.
- Make sure you have a cozy pillow and mattress.
- Avoid catnaps.
- Watch your room temperature so it’s not too hot and not too cold.
Find Time for Relaxing Hobbies
Taking time to enjoy one of your favorite hobbies, like knitting, coloring, photography, or a round of golf, all come with a wide range of benefits.
- Relieve unwanted stress.
- Improve your problem-solving skills.
- Boost your confidence, not to mention your mood.
- Prevent burnout.
- Get physically fit.
Hobbies can get your moving, as well as lower your blood pressure and cortisol levels.
Find Your Inner Zen
Psychology Today reports that there are 20 solid scientific reasons to start meditating today. Let’s look at a few of the highlights.
- Increases your gray matter.
- Regulates your emotions.
- Makes your more compassionate.
- Decreases depression and anxiety.
- Reduces pain.
- Improves your memory.
- Boosts your immune system.
- Makes you more creative.
It will be easier to make time to meditate if you set up a meditation space inside your home to find your inner zen. Consider a quiet location and make it cozy with soft pillows, scented candles, some mystic music, and a touch of nature.
By taking time to care for yourself, you’ll decrease your risk of disease, both mentally and physically. Not to mention, you’ll hopefully avoid contributing to that $42 trillion healthcare bill. Get selfish for self-care today.
Post created by: Sheila Olson. She has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.