A Healthier Spin On Self-care

Mental Health

Self-care is a funny thing – we often know we need it to replenish our batteries but we’re not always great at implementing it. We tend to prioritise children’s footy or soccer games, dog grooming, washing, dishwasher emptying, literally everything else over self-care. Then, when we do engage in some “me time”, it’s not always the healthiest option we choose.

Let me explain- you’re likely a busy person. You have a partner +/- children. You like to have other family members – siblings, parents or in-laws – who demand some form of attention, love or time. You likely try to cook a meal here and there, like to see the friends who matter to you and you may have other things on your plate; an art class, perhaps a book club, perhaps nothing at all because the plate is full enough (let’s be honest). Self-care is low on the agenda for many of us – we write a list of jobs that need to be done, and very rarely does self-care factor in on it, so when are you meant to fit it in?

Me time

When we do fit some “me time” in, however, for many of us it involves a glass of wine at the end of the day or our favourite TV show once the kids are in bed. I hear you; it is self-care and it makes you bloody happy – but I talk to lots of my patients about healthier self-care options; I ask if we can somehow get some self-care happening that’s good for your physical and mental health? I’m not for a moment suggesting a 15KM run nor suggesting you cut the after-work vino out (because that would be crazy!) but I’m asking if we can modify it slightly, cut the wine out maybe once or twice a week and fit in a 30-minute walk instead on the other days?

A walk on my own, with headphones in is my ULTIMATE self-care – no pram, child or husband (as much as I adore them) – it’s time for me to zone out, plan the week ahead in peace or envision myself as Beyoncé (sometimes all 3 occur together). The exercise, music, alone time is my version of self-care; sure, I could be sitting on the couch doing the same daydreaming but this way I am doing the brisk walk and so I reduce my chronic disease risk, risk of bowel and breast cancer and risk of depression at the same time – it’s killing many birds with a self-care stone.

Self-care ideas

Instead of sitting in front of the TV watching your favourite show (if it’s Love Island I suggest you disclose this to no one) can you walk on a treadmill whilst the show is on or do some squats and other exercises with handheld weights? That’s the kind of healthy perspective on self-care I’m talking about – nothing drastic, just slight tweaks!

I’m not expecting miracles nor rapid drastic changes but maybe a slight change once or twice a week is all you need to reap some health benefits in your self-care time. If you can walk whilst holding a glass of wine and listening to a podcast of Love Island, then you my friend are the real self-care winner! 

Dr Preeya Alexander
Please note: Dr. Preeya's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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