How well are you taking care of yourself? Perhaps this is a question you regularly ask yourself or maybe it’s one that has gone by the wayside.
Life can be busy. And with everything you are juggling - family, friends, work -- it can be difficult to prioritize self care. People don’t always approach health holistically and oftentimes isolate their self care routines to focus on either the mind or the body. Let us break down the importance of holistic self-care and provide some easy practices you can incorporate into your self-care routine.
So what exactly is “Holistic Self-Care'' and why is it so important?
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as - “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health”. The categories of holistic health are often broken down into mental, emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions but could also include other aspects such as social and environmental aspects as well. Beginning with a broad definition of wellness enables us to hone our focus.
You can think about holistic self-care as the physical as well as the emotional aspects of wellbeing. Because it may be difficult to define, it’s helpful to have a model from which to reference. Duke Integrative Medicine’s Wheel of Health, (2010) breaks it down into seven major categories:
- Movement, exercise and rest
- Personal and professional development
- Physical environment
- Relationships and communication
- Mind-body connection
One of the featured areas of focus on this wheel is the Mind-Body Connection. Although sometimes viewed as separate, your mind and body are powerful allies. How you think can affect how you feel. And conversely how you feel can affect your thinking. We have all experienced personal and professional worry and stress as various points in our lives. You may even be able to recall how emotional stressors led to physical discomfort such as tension, pain, headaches, and stomach problems. Similarly, physical pain, discomfort, or health problems can negatively affect your emotions and lead you to feel depressed, anxious, or stressed. This powerful example demonstrates why having a well-rounded approach to self-care is so important.
So when it comes to supporting your holistic self-care there are few key practices that can help make a huge difference on your overall well-being:
- Mental- seeking out learning opportunities and challenge your brain regularly with problem solving practices
- Emotional- mind-body practices like meditation, deep breathing,and relaxation techniques focus on strengthening a harmonious connection between mind and body to maintain or improve health
- Physical- in addition to regular exercise, schedule a monthly massage! Massage therapy combines self-care with professional care to help reduce pain, promote relaxation, ease stress and tension, as well as aid in managing health and medical conditions.
- Spiritual- connecting with your inner self as well as the world around you through time spent in nature, reading and journaling and connecting in with your spiritual community to practice your beliefs in groups
Designing a holistic self-care plan can be an exciting and creative endeavor! Begin your journey today.