I live in Wisconsin, and people are freaking out because of changes to the state health insurance benefits for 2016. This is a perfect opportunity to re-think your role in your own health care. It’s time to consider a shift from health care to self-care.
Self-care is prioritizing yourself, discovering your own truth, reevaluating your relationship with your environment, and making choices on a daily basis that demonstrate compassion for your body. Self-care is proactive and preventative and the outcome is improved health and less ‘health care system’.
Self-care requires that you become the expert in you. A self-care approach is natural, based on the observation that your body was designed by nature to be adaptable. The state of your health today is determined by what your body has done with the resources that have been available to it over the course of your life. It relies on and responds to the inputs that you provide it every day. Whether those inputs are nutrients through food, nutrients through movement, adequate time to re-grow & repair through quality sleep, time spent in outside and in nature to recharge your batteries, or sufficient and satisfying community interactions.
Your body also responds to a lack of input. You can tell that something is missing when you are sick, anxious, depressed, fatigued, or otherwise reaching for the phone to call your doctor. It is very unlikely that you have a ‘prescription medicine’ deficiency and much more likely that your body is deficient in some nutrients or mechanical loads or certain bacteria or quality sleep or purpose in life or love.
Here are 5 things that you can do to practice self-care starting today.
- Re-define food for your body. Evaluate what is on your plate, and begin to crowd out foods that contain ingredients that you don’t recognize. Opt for whole, seasonal foods that are found in nature. Start with breakfast. Try replacing breads, cereals, and things with added sugar with vegetables and eggs and see how that feels. This switch will provide your body with more nutrients and over time, you will notice the difference.
- Re-define movement. If you can move to get life done, then there is no requirement for ‘exercise’ as you know it. Try walking 20-30 minutes to get to work by parking your car a mile or two away from your office. You can multitask by taking conference calls at this time, or taking care of personal errands over the phone.
- Re-prioritize sleep. Aim for 8 hours of sleep at night, in a cool, very dark room. Turn screens off at least an hour prior to bed or put your wireless router on a timer so that it shuts off at 8 or 9 o’clock each night. A great deal of self-care magic happens when you sleep.
- Question your walls. You are nature, and odds are you are very disconnected from it. Try to get outside for an hour or two in the middle of each day. Most of the year, this will facilitate vitamin D sufficiency. It will also help to reset your natural light/dark cycle and help you to sleep better at night and force you to practice focusing your eyes at a distance, which is an important input for eye health.
- Re-connect with people. Our modern environment encourages social isolation. Take time every day to connect with someone face-to-face. Share your strengths in your community and ask for them for help when you need it. Social support and connection is a very important part of self-care.
The health care system that most of us participate in is reactive, prescriptive, and increasingly expensive. A self-care approach is proactive, preventative, and keeps money in your pocket. More importantly, self-care leads to a quality of life that our health care system can’t promise us. Start making that shift toward self-care today to reap the benefits for the rest of your life.