Physical self-care simply means taking care of your physical body.
There are 4 tiers that explain how to care for all aspects, creating a balance body.
The first tier of physical self-care involves getting enough exercise, water, sleep, and eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
You may be wondering “what is enough exercise?” According to the Mayo Clinic, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Some moderate aerobic activities are: walking, light biking, dancing, playing a pick-up game of basketball, or water aerobics. Vigorous aerobic activities include: hiking uphill, running, tennis, cycling, and jumping rope. Yoga, plyometrics, weightlifting, and HIIT (high intensity interval training) are also great components of a balanced exercise regiment. Greater amounts of exercise provide greater health benefits.
Increased exercise should result with an increase of water. Drinking adequate amounts of water is something that most people struggle with. The average amount of water you should be consuming is ½ a gallon per day. Again, this is on average; if you are highly active and sweat a lot, your body will need more water to rehydrate. An easy way to make sure you’re drinking enough is to always have a refillable water bottle with you. Measure out how many ounces it holds, and calculate how many refills you will need to drink by the end of the day to hit your goal.
The next component of tier 1, and typically the most challenging, is eating a balanced, nutritious diet. There are so many resources out there promoting different kinds of diets and lifestyles; all of the conflicting information can become very overwhelming. To put it simply, eat all different types of foods from all food groups – the more colors you have on your plate, the better. You should try to stick with primarily whole, 1 ingredient, foods. If it comes in a package and the ingredient list is a mile long, it is full of chemicals and will not provide much nutritional value. By sticking with a wide variety of unprocessed, whole foods, you will ensure that you’re eating a well-rounded diet, and your body will be able to regulate your hunger.
Lastly, get enough sleep. Turn the TV off, put down your phone, and get into bed at a decent time. You should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night; less than, or more than that can cause serious health issues such as: stress, anxiety, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and an increased risk of death. Shutting off electronics, getting into bed, and waking up at the same time everyday is highly beneficial and will allow for your body to get a higher quality sleep.
The second tier of physical self-care includes taking care of yourself when you’re sick, drinking and eating responsibly, limiting screen time, and attending regular check-ups at the dentist and doctor.
One of the most difficult aspects of tier 2 is taking time to recover when falling ill. There is always an entire list of excuses such as only having so many sick days, needing to attend a child’s sporting event, or attending their own sporting event such as a 5k race. These are all understandable reasons to want to “push through the pain”; however, it is important that you put your health first, and rest so that your body and immune system are able to recover.
Another key component of tier 2 is eating and drinking responsibly – this means avoiding binging. The number one way to avoid binging is to practice mindfulness; sometimes you may not even notice that you’re bingeing until it’s too late. When going out on the town with friends, it’s healthy to cut loose and have a good time, maybe even enjoy a drink or two. What is not healthy, however, is going out every weekend, taking shots, and drinking until you are either sick, experience memory loss, or wake up hungover in the morning.
Binge eating can happen in a similar fashion; it’s easy to forget about portion control and go a little wild, especially if you’re having a “Netflix night in.” A cheat meal here and there is okay, as well as is snacking, but remember to stay mindful and only eat until you are full. Both binge eating and drinking can be extremely serious if recurrent and uncontrollable; if this is something you struggle with, you should see a doctor or speak with a healthcare professional.
Tier 2 also includes keeping screen time low. This is self-explanatory, however, it proves more difficult than it should. To limit screen time, staying present is key; live in the moment and try not to distract yourself constantly by scrolling through Instagram. Setting a timer is a helpful way to enjoy your laptop or phone. It allows you to keep track of time so that you know when to put it away and move onto something else.
The last component of tier 2 is attending regular doctor and dentist appointments. This should not be difficult, yet many people tend to procrastinate. To keep from being one of these people, simply set up your next appointment when you’re at the office for a visit; put the appointment in your phone calendar, and set a notification. If for some reason you are unable to make your appointment, never cancel, and always reschedule to the next available date.
The third tier is all about focusing on what physically makes you feel good. This is highly personal, as we all enjoy different things. Some examples of this would be: spa days, getting a pedicure, using a face mask, getting your hair done, etc.
There are so many ways to feel good – if nothing listed above struck you as “your thing”, don’t worry. You can pick anything; wearing an outfit that makes you feel good, spending extra time on your make-up, or even lounging around the house all day wearing your old sweatpants and watching movies.
Lastly, challenge yourself to really get comfortable in your own skin. Yes, getting all done up and throwing on a new outfit might make you feel like a million bucks, but you should also feel like a million bucks with no makeup on. Getting to the point where you feel confident regardless of what you look like is an extremely freeing feeling.
Tier 4 is about figuring out what you physically enjoy doing. This may be going on long walks while listening to podcasts, attending yoga classes, learning a choreographed dance, playing a game of soccer, or riding your bike. So often working out and exercising is dreaded and looked at as a “chore”, when in reality it doesn’t have to be that way at all. You don’t need to run several miles or lift hundreds of pounds (unless that’s what you enjoy) to be healthy, you just have to stay active and frequently move your body. So, figure out what it is you truly enjoy, and get moving.
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