Self-care is important to our functioning. It is what we do for ourselves and our family to establish and maintain health, and prevent and deal with illness. Self-care is about becoming active participants in our own health and that of our families. Self-care can include physical, emotional/psychological and spiritual aspects.

Healthy eating is making sure your body gets all the nutrients and energy you need each day.

  • We all know that breakfast is important. If you struggle to eat breakfast try to grab something you can eat on the way to or at work/school.
  • Think of food in terms of everyday foods that include fruits, vegetables, lean meat, grains, dairy, good fats and sometimes foods including processed, fatty, and fried foods.
  • Get children involved in cooking meals and even growing fresh herbs and vegies in the garden. This will help them create their own balance and healthy attitude towards food.
  • Look at moderating your intake of things such as caffeine, fatty foods, sugar and more harmful substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.

Sleeping well helps our brain to function and get the rest we need after each day. While you are sleeping, your brain is forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.

  • Our body sometimes goes through stages of not sleeping well because of stress, hormones, lifestyle factors, weather, and so forth. Accept this is mostly normal, but do be aware of possible reasons why you may not be sleeping well to help resolve them.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable space to sleep, limit your alcohol and caffeine intake, try not to nap during the day, and limit the use of technology in the bedroom.
  • You can try natural sleep remedies, lavender essential oil, having a warm bath, drinking herbal tea, and hot milk to help you relax before bed.

Exercise does not mean going to the gym every day. If the gym is not for you, then find another way to get your body moving.

  • Going for a walk is the easiest and cheapest way to get exercise, even if it is just for 15 minutes a day.
  • Doing some housework or gardening is also a way to get your body moving.
  • If you have children, getting outside with them playing games, ball games, riding bikes, hiking etc. is a good way to promote healthy living for everyone.

Relaxation is finding some time each day to rest your body and mind and to promote balance in your life. Find the activities that fit with your life and interests and give both your body and mind time out.

  • Activities such as walking, bike riding, gardening, reading, meditation, yoga, watching a movie, arts and crafts, building something, writing, listening to music, taking a bath, connecting with our pets are all good ways to take some time out.

Stress management is learning ways to deal with stress when it arises. Stress is a normal part of life and it is common to feel stressed in certain situations. Knowing how to deal with stress can help you to accept stress and therefore lessen the negative effects.

  • Some basic strategies include practicing deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness (being present in the moment without self-criticism or judgement), challenging your negative thoughts, acknowledging your positive qualities, problem solving and being grateful for what you have.

Sometimes though, we need professional help to sort through life’s challenges – our psychology services can help.

By Bianca Reisman, Psychologist at Brooke Street Medical Centre

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