HEALTH & WELL-BEING – July/August Edition 2023

Adopting some self-care techniques may reap huge health benefits. Self care is defined as the process of establishing behaviours to ensure holistic well-being. It is about taking the time to really understand your true needs beyond just impulses. We all engage in some form of self-care daily with food choices, exercise, sleep, reading, etc. However, self-care also involves a person’s spiritual and social well-being. The concept of self-care has ancient origins and Socrates is credited with founding the self-care movement in ancient Greece. Self-care became es pecially popular during the black feminist movement through civil rights ac tivist and poet Audre Lorde, who was an American writer, radical feminist, professor, philosopher and civil rights activist. She advocated for self-care to preserve black feminist’s identities, to energise their activism and to preserve their minds during the civil rights movement. Self-care includes anything you do to keep yourself healthy physically, men tally, emotionally and spiritually. “Self-care is how you take care of yourself that includes your sleep, diet, exercise routine, daily habits, relationships with others, boundaries, and your feelings,” said Hanna Garza, who is with the Texas Child Health Access through Telemedicine (TCHATT) program and a clinical director at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso (Texas). “When people find themselves in challenging situations, self-care usually gets neglected and that may lead to stress and burnout.” Noting that self-care is different for everyone, Maital Neta, an associate pro fessor of psychology and the associate director of Center for Brain, Biolo gy, and Behavior Director of Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, said, “It’s anything that you do to take care of yourself so you can stay physically, mentally and emotionally well. It is important because it translates into better physical, mental and emotional



health and well-being. Extensive research has demonstrated that self-care promotes positive health outcomes, including living longer, having healthi er and more satisfying relationships, and promoting resilience in the face of stress.”

You Can’t Buy Self-Care For some people, retail therapy may be a perfectly valid method of self-care. For example, if you are a person who is normally very frugal, letting loose and treating yourself can feel good. “Also,” said Neta, “if you are someone who of ten struggles with insecurities, buying new clothing that makes you feel more confident and more ‘you’ can be enormously powerful. It will bring benefits long after the specific shopping trip ends. But that doesn’t work for everyone and not everyone has those means.” Self-care may be simply a peaceful walk in the fresh air, maybe curling up with a good book, or creating a piece of artwork. It may be connecting with a friend. Neta said some self-care may require a few hours of your day and be less frequent, and some might only require a few minutes, such as a short walk around the block, and can be done more often. Garza said sleep is very important to self-care and she recommends trying to get seven to eight hours of sleep a day, developing an exercise routine, and setting boundaries. “Learn to set limits with yourself and others and learn to say ‘no’. Recognise your own negative emotions and convert them into positive ones.”

John Schieszer is an award-winning national journalist and radio and pod cast broadcaster of The Medical Minute. He can be reached at medicalmin

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