In celebration of International Self-Care Day on July 24th, Healthy Workplace will be highlighting all things self-care throughout the month of July, including helpful information and resources, self-care inspiration, as well as the Healthy Workplace Summer Self-Care Challenge encouraging the Carleton Faculty and Staff community to incorporate self-care into their daily lives.
The purpose of this month’s focus on self-care is to shine a light on the behaviors, routines, rituals, and habits that positively impact overall health and wellness, and to encourage the Carleton Community to find small pockets within their days where they can implement self-care in a meaningful way.
This informational webpage includes information about self-care, the benefits of practicing self-care regularly, and how self-care might impact your life or the lives of our loved ones. At the end of this webpage you will find a list of self-care tools and resources and information about how you can learn more.
What is Self-Care?
|Taking time to do things that you enjoy or that make you feel good.|
|Might includes activities you participate in regularly, daily habits, or new hobbies you’re exploring.|
|Adds meaning to your life while also supporting and maintaining your health and wellness.|
|Supports individuals in meeting their social, emotional and psychological needs; caring for their long-term condition; and preventing further illness or accidents..|
|Focused on nurturing activities rather than depleting activities.|
|An important tool to have in your health and wellness toolkit.|
|Can look different for different people, in different environments, and at different phases of life.|
Implementing regular self-care behaviours and strategies doesn’t only impact emotional and mental health. Self-care isn’t just focused on the behaviours that ease our mind and help us unwind after a busy day. In actuality, self-care plays an important role in nurturing other important areas of health, wellness, and everyday life.
There are countless benefits to integrating self-care into your life and from what the research tells us, we know that there are several different types of self-care. Understanding how each type of self-care relates to your lifestyle and overall health is the best way to ensure you are actively working to feel your best in all areas of your life.
The most common types include: emotional, physical, mental, social and spiritual self-care, but also extends to other forms such as practical self-care and professional self-care, in addition to self management which is often prevalent in scenarios that involved long-term and chronic disease management.
What are the benefits of self-care?
When we step back from the narrow view of self-care that is often portrayed online and on social media, and take into account its much broader meaning, we can better appreciate all the benefits that come from continuing to prioritize the things that help us to feel our best.
Some of the most commonly identified benefits of self-care include:
- Prioritizing self-care can lead to overall improvements in mental health. Self-care strategies allow us to be better equipped when coping with stress, anxiety, changes in mood, overwhelm, and brain fog. Meaningful self-care practices can promote rest and relaxation in a world that is busier than ever.
- Placing emphasis on the behaviours and routines that support your wellbeing can also work to improve your sleep. Engaging in restful and relaxing rituals and implementing habits that support better sleep hygiene, such as unplugging before bed, meditating in the morning, creating a work/life balance that makes sense for you, or removing any distracting lights or noises from your sleep space, can lead to a more restful night’s sleep.
- Regular self-care not only improves the relationship you have with yourself, but it can also promote healthier relationships with the important people in your life.
- Self-care encourages self-improvement, self-awareness and enables us to better advocate for ourselves and our health.
- Actively working to take better care of your health creates an opportunity for improved self-esteem and self-efficacy. Incorporating self-care regularly can increase our confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves.
- Self-care can also result in many improvements to physical health. Research shows that self-care can be an incredibly helpful tool when dealing with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel diseases (Chron’s or Colitis), multiple sclerosis, and certain forms of cancer. Self-care practices can also benefit those who are experiencing changes to their physical health, like a new diagnosis or injury, supporting them through the process as they navigate their new reality.
Is there a place for self-care in chronic disease management?
Over the last decade more and more studies have explored the benefits of self-care practices as they relates to chronic health conditions. This has paralleled the shift that has happened around approaching care and treatment from more of a multidisciplinary angle. In the research there is evidence that shows the important role self-care can play in managing chronic conditions and various health issues as well as how effective certain self-care behaviour can be when paired with evidence based recommended treatments and medications.
Oftentimes in these studies, the word “self-care” is used interchangeably with “self-management”, highlighting the importance of empowering people to take on an active role in their care and chronic illness management.
Encouraging people to advocate for themselves has been shown to enhance their experience when it comes to living with these health conditions. This is because most of the day-to-day care in chronic diseases, like diabetes for example, is handled by the patient. Some common self-care behaviours outlined in diabetes and chronic pain research specifically include:
- Healthy, balanced eating and following dietary recommendations best suited for the specific chronic illness they’re dealing with.
- Being physically active can be very helpful for those living with T2D as well as practicing mindful movement to ease discomfort in those with severe arthritis of fibromyalgia.
- Monitoring of blood sugar for diabetes patients as well as proper foot care.
- Compliance with medications and “homework” from clinicians. Attending follow-up care appointments including physio and massage therapy.
- Healthy coping skills: meditation, volunteering or sharing your knowledge with others can uplift your spirit, listening to music or an uplifting podcast, taking a bath/heat pads for those dealing with chronic pain, reaching out to friends and family for a chat, quality time or a good laugh.
- Practicing good problem-solving skills is a really important part of self-management or self-care and involves putting “tools” into practice and troubleshooting along the way.
How can I start implementing self care into my life?
As with all new health and wellness related behaviours, the key is to test it out! It’s important to experiment and discover what self-care behaviours are going to be most helpful as it pertains to the different areas of health and wellness. It’s also important to consider your personal circumstances, what you value, and what type of self-care is going to be most helpful for you at that moment.
Here are 5 helpful tools and resources to get you started:
- Stay tuned for our next Healthy Workplace Summer Self-Care Challenge.
- Get even more inspired with this CAMH Free Handout – Self Care Game Changers
- Make your very own Self-Care-Promise
- Examine your everyday behaviours to determine which are Nurturing Activities vs. Depleting Activities
- Review Ottawa Public Health’s Self-Care Guide for Employees created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While much has changed since the start of the pandemic, many of the suggestions outlined are still relevant and important to consider when exploring what self-care means to you!
Looking for more self-care tools and tips?
Sign up for the Healthy Workplace Summer Self-Care Challenge or email Healthy Workplace at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to this month’s email list!