by Emma Grace Brown (thank you!!)
The concept of self-care is thrown around a lot these days, but when you stop and think about it, what is self-care? If you think of self-care as pampering or indulgences, it probably feels like something you don’t have the time or money to do very often. Occasional indulgences are nice, but true self-care is much more than that. Instead, consider this alternative approach to self-care that’s all about discovering the everyday choices that you truly need.
Ages and Stages in Life
To find the self-care practices that work for you, it’s important to recognize that our needs tend to change over time. We all have the same basic health needs, such as eating a balanced diet and being active, but you may need more or less of some things at different points in life. For example, seniors have specific exercise needs, like maintaining balance for fall prevention and strength training to prevent loss of muscle mass.
Anyone can exercise at home, but joining a group exercise program is a great way to make sure you’re targeting specific needs. Many people who have a Medicare Advantage plan have coverage for SilverSneakers, which gives you access to 13,000 fitness centers that participate in the program nationwide. Along with targeting your fitness needs, joining a program like SilverSneakers is a great way for retirees to get out of the house and meet other seniors who also care about healthy living.
Besides fitness habits, we all have routines that feel comfortable, and sometimes we don’t even think about how small changes could help us live better — whether that’s improved physical health or increased happiness. For example, Health.com points out that many women in middle age get in a rut with their wardrobe, continuing to wear clothes that don’t fit well or that just don’t make them feel great. For young professionals, a common example is how busy you may get while focusing on your career. When this happens you may forget about your adventurous side or to set aside a little time for relaxation.
These are just a few examples of how we unintentionally ignore small changes that could help us feel better. In this case, self-care is a simple examination of whatever is keeping you stuck. Do this self-examination periodically so you can find easy solutions for getting unstuck.
Beyond the Necessities
To help identify what may be holding you back, break down the basics you know you need (exercise, a balanced diet, sleep) and see if there’s something missing. Along with addressing those specific exercise needs, nutrition is another area where many of us can do a little more.
Your body may be telling you you’re deficient of some nutrients, but you just don’t know the signs. Mind Body Green explains how these signs can be emotional symptoms like anxiety or physical symptoms such as exhaustion, digestive problems, or lack of sleep. A simple solution is to try these tips from The Kitchn for eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
Make It Fit Your Lifestyle
Focusing on easy changes that fit your lifestyle is what this holistic concept of self-care is all about. Take a tip from Inc., which boils it down to four key factors that self-care should meet: simple, quick, repeatable, and affordable. So, if what you need is more targeted exercise, start by adding one new workout to your routine, and set a goal for completing it that works for you. Or, with the example of finding your adventurous side, instead of waiting for your next vacation, find more adventure through a hobby you can do on a regular basis, like rock climbing or hiking.
Rock climbing probably doesn’t sound like the idea of self-care that you’re used to, but that’s the point! What everyone needs from self-care is different, but it all comes down to simply caring for ourselves on a daily basis. Whether that’s rock climbing or finding the right exercise program, the goal is to create new habits that make the right self-care goals fit into your everyday life.
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Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.