Self-care has been a hot topic lately. And while the idea of taking care of yourself is not revolutionary, the term “self-care” is somewhat new on the scene. According to Google Trends, the search term has more than doubled since 2015. When people think of self-care, they might picture a person drinking a glass of wine in a large bubble bath or cozying up in an armchair with a cup of tea. While these are certainly ways of practicing self-care, many others promote wellness and healthy aging.
HarborChase Senior Living has independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities throughout the United States where we celebrate healthy aging and senior living. We are sharing some tips on gaining the benefits of self-care and how to incorporate self-care into your life!
What is Self-Care?
While taking a bubble bath or lounging in a chair are forms of self-care, there is a common misconception that self-care is selfish or self-
indulgent—which isn’t true. Self-care is a conscious effort to take care of yourself so that you can be well and healthy, be there for others, and do all the things you need to do.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider (World Health Organization).”
In today’s fast-paced world, it can be easy to get into a routine of work, caregiving, or errands that we often get into a mindset of putting ourselves last. Self-care, however, means that you are taking care of yourself so that you can be fueled and energized to get all these things done.
1. Get Enough Vitamin D
When you’re feeling down, it can be tempting to stay inside and enjoy the comfort of the couch or your bed. However, spending time outside can do wonders for both physical and mental health. There is evidence that being surrounded by Vitamin D, fresh air, trees, and nature can reduce stress, increase productivity, and offer certain health benefits for older adults, like enhanced cognitive and bone health.
Here Are Some Ideas to Get Outside:
- Go to a local pool to swim or relax (don’t forget sunscreen!)
- Start gardening at home
- Go on a hike at local trails or nature preserves
2. Catch Some Zs
Getting a full night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to take care of yourself. It can help boost the immune system, lower the risk for chronic health concerns, reduce stress, and improve overall mood. It can seem like a chore to get to bed at a decent hour every night, but it’s actually just another form of self-care!
Here Are Some Ideas to Get Better Sleep:
- Reduce blue light exposure (cells phones and TVs) during the evening and before bed
- Avoid coffee or soda late in the day
- Reduce long naps in the afternoon and evening
- Try to have a set sleep schedule every night
3. Make Plans
Spending time with family and friends is not only a fun activity, but it’s also a way of practicing self-care. Many people feel most like themselves when surrounded by people they love, but there are also health benefits! Having an active social life can increase longevity, improve confidence, and reduce certain health risks.
Here Are Some Ideas to Increase Your Socialization:
- Set up a weekly call with a family member or friend
- Attend a weekly exercise or art class
- Join social media
- Volunteer at a local organization
- Consider an independent living community
4. Take Care of Your Body
While many people don’t associate self-care with exercising and eating healthy, taking care of your physical body is essential in taking care of yourself as a whole. Of course, exercising doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym at 5:00 a.m. every day! Spending time in nature and socializing with others are natural ways to incorporate more exercise into your life.
Furthermore, eating well doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy; it simply means establishing a balanced diet of healthy foods and guilty pleasure foods.
Here Are Some Ideas to Promote Physical Activity and Eating Well:
- Get creative in the kitchen with new ingredients and recipes
- Visit a local farmer’s market to buy fresh produce
- Attend a weekly exercise class with a friend
- Find an activity that you love, like yoga, hiking, or dancing
5. Indulge in Something You Love
While it’s true that self-care is about sleeping well, eating well, and exercising well—it’s also about bubble baths and cups of tea! An essential aspect of self-care is setting aside time for yourself to engage in something you genuinely enjoy. For some, this could be exercising or spending time with friends; for others, it could be curling up with a good book, getting a massage, or baking cookies.
These may seem like surface-level means of caring for yourself, but when practiced in conjunction with taking care of yourself physically and mentally, you’ll ensure that you’re fully healthy and happy and will be able to live your life more efficiently and effectively.···