By MARLANT EAP,
International Self-Care Day is July 24th 2019. Join us at in Dockyard (EAP office D-126) /Stadacona Base (S80) 11:00- 13:00 to learn about the keys to better health!
This is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of self-care and its role in leading a healthy life. Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, socio-economic factors and self-medication.
These pillars are seven ‘domains’ where we can all use some self-care. So here they are, along with a few things you can do for yourself or others in order to promote and embody self-care
Health Literacy is about having the knowledge and skills to enjoy better health and well-being. It is about understanding the implications of healthy lifestyle choices and information given to by a healthcare professional. People with higher levels of health literacy enjoy healthier and happier lives!
Self-awareness is the first step of any self-care activity. It enables you to be aware of yourself and your health, to identify any areas of improvement. It is good to be aware of the needs your body or mind may need, and attend to these before they worsen. So, take a few minutes every day to tune into your body and mind. Identify if something(s) may need a little more love and care, like stiff muscles or a headache. Once you identified something that could use some attention, initiate a self-care activity. If you don’t know where to start, there are thousands of resources available to help you learn and increase your level of health literacy!
Physical activity is a great way to help control your weight and reduce the risk of metabolic illnesses. Luckily, physical activity here doesn’t imply intense and long physical training sessions. In fact, regularly walking, cycling or participating in recreational sports brings you many health benefits. So, on beautiful hot summer days, go for a half hour walk after diner or a swim at your local pool. But remember, wear sunscreen! Your skin need some love and care too.
Proper nutrition plays an important role in maintaining a good health and is an easy way to give your body a little self-care. Nutritious foods contribute to proper brain and muscle function, give you the energy you need for the day and helps strengthen your immune system. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either! It is possible to eat healthy on a tight budget.
Risk Avoidance or Mitigation
Risk avoidance or mitigation means to avoid or reduce behaviours that are harmful towards health and well-being. According to ISF, these include vaccination, practicing safe sex, moderately drinking, wearing sunscreen or sitting in the shade, and wearing a helmet when you ride your bike. This pillar can go hand in hand with other activities, like physical activity. For example, if you are going for a bike ride for some self-care, mitigate risk of injury by wearing a helmet. Again, if it’s sunny outside, wear a hat, sunglasses and some sunscreen! Protect your skin and eyes from sun exposure that may be irreversible. It is important to understand that this pillar doesn’t mean to refrain any and every behaviour that may be risky. If that were the case, we would never leave our beds in the morning! It is more about being aware of your limits (self-awareness!), understanding the risks (health literacy!), and taking the steps to minimize risk.
Good hygiene is essential in preventing the spread of disease.This not only includes personal hygiene, like washing your hands and body, but also the environment where you live and work. For example, cleaning surface areas regularly such as desks, kitchen areas and floors are all part of good hygiene practices. And no, this doesn’t mean we should all start cleaning franticly and live our lives like the Bubble Boy, but cleaning up weekly helps keep bacteria and allergens under control (and during this hot summer season, fruit flies!).
And of course, personal hygiene is crucial. It has played (and still plays) a pivotal role in society’s public health advancements. So those kindergarten teachers constantly reminding you to wash your hands were on to something! And your mom bugging you to take a bath or shower every other day, maybe she knew something you didn’t!
So in the spirit of ISD, take a nice long bath, after (or while) enjoying your healthy home cooked meal. Even light up some candles, but make sure they aren’t near any flammable materials like curtains (risk mitigation!).
Rational and responsible use of self-care products and services
This last one tends to align itself with the first one. This pillar is about using self-care products and services rationally and responsible, such as prescription medication, preventative health products and health services. However, you may not know how to use a product or the effects it may cause. Therefore, a good idea is to read the outside labels and instructions inside of the packaging. These don’t help? Look it up. Again, the internet provides a wealth of information to help you out! However, always keep a critical eye on the source providing the information. Make sure it comes from a credible source formation, like a government website, a healthcare resource centre, and health promotion resource centre or community health organization.
Ten ways to practice self-care at work
When you hear the phrase “self-care,” you might think of personal things like meditation, indulging in something decadent, yoga, a spa day, or taking time for a good book. But when you think about how much of your time you spend at work, it makes sense to broaden that definition of self-care to include your professional, hardworking self as well.
Here are 10 ways you can help expand your self-care regimen into your workday.
- Set boundaries
This can be one of the hardest things to do (gotta answer that 10 p.m. email!), but when work bleeds over into other aspects of your life, it can be a major source of stress. Start by setting no-work zones in your life, whether that’s not checking email on a Saturday, or turning off your phone by a certain time every evening.
- Make your desk a zen space.
A clean, organized desk can reduce stress as well, and help put you in a good working headspace. Whether that means completely Kondo-ing your desk or simply deciding whether you need a ton of paper files instead of a digital archive, getting stuff out of your line of vision can help you feel more organized and on top of things.
- Take walk breaks
Being deskbound can lead to all sorts of health issues, like back pain, weight gain, and plain old stress. If you can, schedule little breaks where you get up and walk around. If you can’t go outside, a loop around your office will do. Plus, you’ll have the extra incentive to be more social if you’re circulating.
- Rethink your lunch hour
Your lunch hour doesn’t have to be just about lunch. Think of it as a “free period,” like back in school. Eating is key (hey, it’s in the name), but think about how to maximize your time. If your gym is nearby, consider a quick workout. Go out and grab a coffee. Find a quiet spot and meditate. Whatever helps you recharge for the afternoon, consider it part of your lunch routine.
- Be a social butterfly
How many people do you work with that you’d consider a friend, not just an acquaintance who happens to be in the same place for 40 hours a week? Being more proactive about saying “hi” as you pass someone in the hall or waiting for coffee can help you make inroads with coworkers. It may seem like awkward chitchat at first, but making time to talk with people can help make your work relationships more fulfilling.
- Be proactive about what you need
Feeling overwhelmed? Bored because you need more challenging work? Have a simmering conflict with a boss or co-worker? If you want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, it’s important to be proactive and attack issues as they come up. This is not to say you should be hyper-aggressive about everything that doesn’t feel like it’s going your way, but if you take an active approach to evaluating and fixing issues, it can boost your confidence, productivity, and general satisfaction levels at work.
- Stay hydrated
This is a self-care strategy that works in every walk of life. And at work, it can be especially hard to remember to stay hydrated, since you may not be especially active while you’re working during the day. Investing in a water bottle and keeping it topped off throughout the day, can help you build good hydration practices instead of turning to coffee, soda, or other drinks that should be kept in moderation.
- Go analog at least once a day
How much of your day is spent staring at a screen? Every day, set aside some time to do tasks that require you to look away from your computer and phone. Maybe it’s writing down a task list for the day. Maybe it’s jotting down notes ahead of a meeting to gather your thoughts. Our digital tools are very handy, but they also cause eye strain. It does your eyes and your brain good to get a break from screen time every once in a while. Your email will be waiting when you come back a few minutes later, don’t worry.
- Dress the part
You know the old saying, “dress for the job you want”? I’d expand that to be dress for the work life you want. Wear things that make you feel confident and ready to go. Taking a little extra care with your outfit in the morning can help boost your mood throughout the day.
- Set challenges for yourself
One of the most lethal threats to productivity is boredom. Regularly set realistic challenges for yourself. Try building a new professional skill that can help you later on with a promotion. Learn how a particular process at your company works that you’ve always been curious about. Set a goal of reading a certain number of industry-related articles per week. Whatever will keep you focused and engaged, add it to the list!