Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: What should I be doing during Self-Care Awareness Month?
A: Great question! Yes, September IS National Self-Care Awareness month. While there is no single definition, self-care is often described as a series of actions to improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Many readers of our weekly columns are caregivers to others. When you are not able to provide adequate care for yourself, it’s nearly impossible to appropriately care for others.
What exactly does self-care encompass? It means taking time to do those things that help you live well — and improve both your physical and mental health. Self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy. Even the smallest acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.
I’m often asked for self-care advice, which can vary from person to person. Here are some of my favorite tips from the National Institutes of Health:
- Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking (or other intentional movement) each day can help boost mood and improve your health. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes all at once. Positive effects are cumulative and every little bit helps.
- Eat healthy regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of H2O can improve your focus and energy level. Limit caffeine and your will sleep improve as well.
- Speaking of sleep…make it a priority! Stick to a schedule to ensure you get enough Zzz’s. Stop phone and computer use at least 30 minutes before bed. Blue light from screens and devices interferes with sleep, so banish them from the bedroom.
- Enjoy a relaxing activity- Explore relaxation or wellness programs and apps that may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other relaxing activities you may enjoy.
- Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now –and what can wait. Learn to say NO (this is a big one) if you are feeling overwhelmed. At the end of the day, reflect on what you have accomplished and not what’s left undone.
- Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily all you are grateful for.
- Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts.
- Stay connected. Reach out to friends or family for emotional and spiritual support.
Take time to figure out what makes YOU feel relaxed, rejuvenated and calm. Maybe you’ll even post this column on the fridge and make it your daily self-care checklist.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.