July 24th is all about you.
Think of it as the summer version of New Year’s where you reflect upon how to take better care of yourself while also taking action. International Self-Care Day (ISD) is also a way to spread awareness of how to look after one’s own physical, emotional, and mental health.
Some people don’t know that self-care has seven pillars. ISD is your opportunity to learn about all the pillars and adopt them into your daily lifestyle.
Why July 24th?
Since 2011, medical professionals around the world have provided individuals with self-care information and assistance. The date itself is symbolic of self-care being necessary and beneficial 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Pillar 1: Health Literacy
Educating oneself about the benefits of self-care and how to make healthy choices will lead to a better overall health. Your outlook on exercise, food, risk avoidance, and hygiene will shift when you learn about how it’s all connected.
For example, poor dental practices won’t affect only your teeth and gums; it can also affect your heart. Another example is having bad posture while sitting in a chair. Your back will not only suffer, but so will your neck and head.
As you read up on self-care and healthy choices, make sure you’re using reputable medical sources. Many groups have an abundance of advertised misinformation, primarily to promote unhealthy products and services in order to make a profit. By following the wrong information, you could end up adopting risky behaviour that leads to hospitalization.
Pillar 2: Self-Awareness
This pillar encapsulates mental wellbeing, self-awareness, and agency.
Mental wellbeing does not signify only the absence of an illness or disease. Mental wellbeing also encompasses other factors, including:
- Life Satisfaction
- Sense of Belonging
These factors help individuals successfully handle everyday stress, become more productive, actively reach their potential while positively contributing to the community.
The self-awareness and agency part of this pillar mean that you use the information from Pillar 1 and consult a certified healthcare practitioner to gain an assessment of your mental and physical health.
It’s human nature to avoid problems, particularly medical ones. Many people prefer to remain ignorant because they’re afraid that there is a bigger problem. However, waiting too long to deal with the problem could be making it worse. Gaining self-awareness and using your agency empower you to confront your medical issues and gain a solution, so you can live a better life.
Pillar 3: Exercise
I’m sure you knew this one was coming. Physical activity not only improves your health, but also your mood and fitness.
You have heard that exercise helps your mind to release endorphins, which make you feel happy. What endorphins do is reduce your perception of pain and, at the same time, act like a sedative. This explains why you’re less likely to feel depressed and experience improved sleep patterns. All of this will contribute to an overall positive mood. However, it’s essential to remember that you don’t have to be happy all the time. It’s healthy to experience a certain amount of sadness, anxiety, and anger.
The recommended amount of exercise is categorized according to age groups:
- Children and teenagers from 5-17 years old should have a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous activity on a daily basis. Activities that concentrate on aerobics are best, such as jumping and running.
- Adults from 18 and up should have at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling, and playing sports. Alternatively, they should have a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. They are encouraged to participate in activities that have different ranges of intensity.
Exercising for the right amount of time per week will improve your cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, as well as bone health while reducing your chances of non-communicative diseases, depression, and cognitive decline. Like in Pillar 1, it’s all connected.
Pillar 4: Healthy Eating
Healthy eating provides many preventative benefits. The maintenance of a healthy diet has a major impact on reducing your chances of having non-communicable diseases.
Outside factors, like work-related stress and low self-esteem, can often make us eat more than our body needs. Gaining professional help (in Pillar 2) for those issues will motivate you to stick to a healthy diet.
Recent findings have shown that our diet has more of an impact on our weight than exercise alone. Moreover, a great deal of products that claim to be healthy are, in reality, the opposite. This is why it’s essential to be conscious of the ingredients and foods you consume. Reading labels and eliminating bad food, such as processed meats, frozen meals, and food high in sodium and sugar, are good practices to follow for a long-term healthy diet.
Be sure to consult Canada’s new food guide that embraces fresh food.
Pillar 5: High-Risk Mitigation & Avoidance
This pillar focuses on ways to avoid or reduce your risk of injury and mortality.
There are common practices people always talk about, such as avoiding smoking or reducing how often you smoke, practicing safe sexual intercourse, and limiting your alcohol intake. These are all categorized as high-risk.
But this pillar also includes everyday safety precautions that people ignore or forget about because they can sometimes be under the mistaken impression that they won’t be affected by high-risk behaviors. Simple actions, such as wearing a helmet while biking or rollerblading and turning off a machine before unplugging it, could save your life. Wearing sunscreen is another way to protect yourself and ensure that you lead a long life.
Self-care is rarely thought of in these terms, but it makes sense. As you go about your day, you need to be aware of how you’re treating yourself. The next time you go out on a sunny day and don’t bother with the sunscreen, the only person you’re hurting is yourself.
Pillar 6: Hygiene
This pillar focuses on the daily maintenance of your physical body. From washing your hands after using the restroom to showering on a regular basis to safely handling food.
Poor hygiene leads to a high risk of contracting diseases, and it’s harmful not only to yourself, but also to your household, your colleagues, and basically, anyone with whom you come into contact. The COVID-19 crisis emphasizes hand washing as an all-too-crucial part of daily hygiene.
When done properly, hygienic self-care methods lead to a better quality of life where you feel good about yourself. If you have ever skipped a shower or two or had food poisoning, it leaves you feeling out of sorts and very sick.
Pillar 7: Responsible Use of Self-Care Products and Services
The final pillar of self-care is about your effective management of the self-care products and services that you consume and engage in.
For example, if you have been prescribed medicine for a condition or illness, it’s your responsibility to take only what your doctor prescribed. Another example is if you pay for a gym membership, then it’s your responsibility to your self-care regime to go to the gym on a regular basis.
Self-care is, in itself, a huge responsibility, but little by little, you can improve your wellbeing according to each of the seven pillars. You just need to take the first step.
Find Your Self-Care Products at Healthcare Solutions
Healthcare Solutions is proud to connect individuals with healthcare professionals. We recommend checking out the International Self-Care Foundation for more information on self-care.
Now that you know a little more about self-care, Healthcare Solutions is happy to provide you with the products you need to live a better life. We offer personal hygiene living aids, footwear, fitness supplies, and much more!