What is self-care and why is it important?
The 7 secrets to effective self-care
We all engage in self care everyday. Brushing your teeth and bathing are actions that you do without giving it much thought. These are learned behaviors that are now habits, and that’s a good thing, but this is just the bare minimum of self care. What about the inside of the body? Diet and exercise are important tools of self care and help keep the inside of the body healthy. The USDA says that only 10% of the population eats a good diet. An interest in diet, exercise, hygiene and emotional well-being is helpful in maintaining an active lifestyle, but what happens when you have an injury or suffer from overuse? Many of us don’t have enough information or experience to know what to do to help ourselves. We rely on various treatments and professionals, but this is like relying on someone else to brush your teeth.
The autonomy to do for ourselves gives us a feeling of freedom and control because we are able to take action.
Are you suffering from chronic pain? Anxiety and fear can deplete our ability to take action and individuals will often endure pain and discomfort. Many of us don’t know enough about our bodies and how to support healing and reduce physical pain. Another obstacle is that these techniques don’t work as fast as an aspirin, and many will lose interest and then lose hope for any change. We then turn to stronger anti-inflammatories which can be addictive or opt for surgery, which isn’t a guarantee of pain relief.
There really IS a way to help support the body’s own healing mechanism and gradually move out of pain and into greater mobility and enjoyment of life. There are a few things that are important elements of your success.
1. Consider the bigger picture
Observe all aspects of your experience, including emotional and mental aspects, not just the physical. Your inner emotional life has a much bigger impact than you might realize. There is no separation between body and mind, and accessing one can change the other. Your body is interconnected in ways that can seem mystifying, but there is no need to be afraid of yourself. Cultivating trust in your own experience is a vital step.
2. Be curious
The fact that you are reading this article indicates that you already are curious about what you can do to improve your well-being. Curiosity engages your creative mind and can lead you to connections and pattern recognition that will start you on your path of active recovery. You are having a conversation with yourself, but communicating in many mediums. Imagery, sensation, texture and intuition are some of the languages of this creative realm, and if you continue to focus your curiosity on those internal experiences, the inherent wisdom of your
body will start to reveal to you what it needs.
3. If something doesn’t work try something else
You need to discover what your
body and nervous system responds to. You take in information in your own unique way through the nervous system. You probably already know what therapies you respond to and which ones you’ve tried with no success. The creative realm of knowing yourself is not linear and
sometimes you follow a line of action that doesn’t work. Maybe it worked fore before, but now it’s not as effective. Often you have to explore something fully to realize that it’s not working and it’s at this point that the other potential patterns are revealed. How do you know if something is working or not?
4. Take your time and measure your progress
This is a gradual process and the body does not change quickly. The benefits of a therapeutic action might not be acknowledged if you don’t take the time to notice. This really is about mindfulness and maintaining your focus on your desired outcome. I have noticed certain time arcs of improvement when using fascial bodywork techniques. You know something is effective if you feel an immediate benefit, even a slight improvement just after any therapeutic action. You will begin to see changes in your daily experience after 3 weeks of sustained self care, and a larger shift in chronic conditions after 3 months of consistent self care. Are you beginning to understand why self care is so important?
5. Be consistent
You have to be committed to maintaining your focus on your own
health and sustaining that focus over time. Therapy doesn’t work if you don’t do it. If you notice the benefits, stay consistent and track your progress, you will be fully engaged in the process and more likely to maintain that healthy conversation with yourself.
6. Don’t push through pain
Learn how to listen to your body and interpret your sensations. The adage, “No Pain, No Gain” only applies when there is no injury or disfunction in the tissue. Pushing through pain will not help you get out of pain. What is the difference between pain and sensation? When do you know you are risking injury? You must become familiar with the subtleties of sensation. Here’s my hint - use your curiosity.
7. Get qualified help
When self care just doesn’t get the desired results, you need an
experienced perspective. A health care professional will have more knowledge and skill to assist and help you care for yourself. After the acute phase of inflammation has resolved, If you continue your self care while you are receiving treatment from a professional, you will be amplifying the benefits of that therapy.
You have the individual capacity to control your own health. Knowing yourself is a challenging but worthwhile pursuit. You may encounter some psychological resistance to your conscious self-transformation, but if you persevere you will gain more knowledge, skill and
finesse. Being able to see the bigger picture and assess your lifestyle, identify risks and implement strategies to improve well-being is empowering and puts you in the driver’s seat. Fuel yourself with curiosity and a good sense of humor and you will succeed in creating a
vibrant life, full of exquisite experiences.