For many of us, these days may feel like we’re in survival mode. There may be a lot on the to-do list and at the same time not many places to go. It might feel difficult to be in the moment, maybe worrying about the future or analyzing the past. The need for self-care and 'me time' has never been more important than in this past year while also feeling like an uphill battle to achieve.
At WOASH, we decided to take a deeper look into what it means to take care of yourself and we're going back to the basics. We took a holistic approach to look at the conditions of health and wellbeing in order to improve one’s quality of life. It is not about perfection, but about looking at these areas in your own life and ways to add in more healthy habits.We’ve summarized these aspects into a checklist as an overview of ways to take care of yourself:
HOLISTIC HEALTH CHECKLIST
We’ve all been there before where we feel stressed and then out of nowhere let out a big sigh. This deep exhale is our body trying to release stress and let go of tension. It is the body’s natural reminder to come back to your breath and encourage a calmer state. This is why you may notice your jaw feels tight or your back feels tense, while at the same time, your breathing is shallow. Inhaling oxygen (nutrients) and exhaling carbon dioxide (waste) is the most important natural reflex to supporting life. Step one for taking care of yourself is coming back to slow, relaxed deep-belly breathing, take notice of your bodies natural reminders and take a moment to breathe.
You might have heard the concepts that our bodies are made up of 70% water or being healthy requires drinking 8 cups of water a day. The motive behind theses messages are well-intentioned as we need to drink water to keep our body functioning properly. Simply increasing your water intake (decaf herbal teas count too!) is a great start, but we can do better! We need to be mindful of what dehydrates the body. Caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and overexercising all take away from the body’s total daily level of hydration. We need to find a balance with higher amounts of hydrating liquids and less dehydrating factors.
We need to nourish ourselves with food for energy and nutrients to support the body’s basic functions. Finding foods that make you feel good is an individual journey but the necessary building blocks remain the same. Protein builds important chemical messengers, such as dopamine (the happy chemical) and GABA (the calming chemical). Healthy fats create hormones and provide protection for our organs and nervous system. Complex carbohydrates provide long-lasting energy and feed our brain. Plant-based foods - such as: fruits, vegetables, and herbs - contain vitamins, minerals, and often have medicinal qualities. That is why at WOASH we value our organic herbal teas and products as it is an easy way to add nourishment to the day-to-day.
The type and amount of movement looks different for everyone. It might include stretches while seated, walking in your neighbourhood, or high-intensity activities like a workout class, running, or playing a sport. With any sort of movement we need to be mindful of knowing when to rest. Listening to your body is important, notice when you feel good after an activity and when you need to take a break and listen carefully.
Spending time in nature is a must for improving our wellbeing. An example of this is how we need time in the sun to naturally make the essential vitamin D. Being in fresh air can reduce stress and anxiety and promote a sense of calmness. When in quarantine, options of going outdoors might be limited so even sitting on your balcony or opening a window can help feel more connected to nature.
As humans, we are a social species. Keeping in touch with others is important for your wellbeing. When we are physically around other people that we feel safe with or care about, our nervous system reflects it. We release positive chemical messengers that circulate throughout our body. This improves how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally and can be more difficult to achieve when we are alone. It is not about the number of friends but more important to have a few close people that you can count on or laugh with when times get tough. Having a support system is key for being healthy.
Connection can mean something different to everyone. You may feel connected to a community, religion, or spiritual belief system. Feeling part of something greater, helps to give purpose to the day opposed to the daily tasks and stressors. Finding purpose in one’s work, relationships, or believing in the greater good will add to your overall wellbeing.
This Holistic Health Checklist is meant to encourage different ways of taking care of oneself. When we are in survival mode, we start at the top of the list with breath. As we have more time and energy, we work further down the list by adding in proper hydration, nourishment through food and herbs, and connecting with our bodies, nature, and others. It does not have to adapt in one day, the purpose of the checklist is to promote self-care through the lens of physical, social, and spiritual aspects of health.
Disclaimer: This content is not intended to offer medical advice. Seek a health care professional for advice on treating a medical and/or mental health condition.