July 24 is International Self-Care Day (ISD). This worldwide event allows people to share how they practice self-care while offering better ways for everyone to cultivate wellness in their daily lives. First developed in 2011 by the International Self-Care Foundation, the founder’s vision is to create a world where people live long, healthy lives by taking personal responsibility for their wellness, adopt healthy lifestyles, and build a routine of self-care. The International Self-Care Foundation has created a framework based upon seven pillars to make healthy decisions.
Pillar 1 – Knowledge and health literacy
Health literacy is vital to make health-based decisions every day. Armed with this knowledge, individuals can make educated choices regarding their health and the health of those they support. It could be as simple as knowing the adverse effects of smoking or understanding the preventative health measures that brushing and flossing your teeth make for excellent dental hygiene and heart health.
Pillar 2 – Mental well-being, self-awareness, and agency
The World Health Organization defines mental well-being, self-awareness, and agency as a state in which every individual realizes their potential, copes with the everyday stresses of life, works productively and fruitfully, and contributes to their community. People take actions based on their self-knowledge of their current situation and self-awareness of their feelings. This perspective leads to a personal understanding of areas of health strength while acknowledging areas needing improvement.
Pillar 3 – Physical activity
Regular physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and necessary in preventative healthcare. Movement can ward off heart disease and bone fractures, reduce stress, increase positive mental health, and improve sleep. From long walks to taking a yoga class, increasing daily activity can build self-esteem and boost confidence.
Pillar 4 – Healthy eating
Diet is as vitally important as exercise in self-care. Unhealthy eating can be the source of a myriad of health problems and chronic diseases. How we eat is one of two primary risk factors for non-communicable disease. Just as with exercise, it is never too late to practice healthier eating habits.
Pillar 5 – Risk avoidance or mitigation
In terms of health, risk mitigation means avoiding or reducing behaviors that increase the risk of disease or death. Activities that practice risk mitigation include vaccinations, not smoking, practicing safe sex, wearing sunscreen, drinking alcohol in moderation, maintaining situational awareness of your surroundings, wearing a seat belt while driving, and reaching for a helmet when riding a bike. It’s about making good choices and avoiding potential problems before they arise.
Pillar 6 – Good hygiene
Good hygiene practices maintain health and help prevent the spread of disease. During COVID-19, we learned a lot about the importance of washing hands often. Regular oral healthcare, proper food handling, and covering faces or mouths when coughing or sneezing keep people healthy now and in the long run.
Pillar 7 – Rational and responsible use of self-care products and services
Whether reaching for herbal supplements to help you sleep or picking up a bottle of lavender oil to find some zen, following product instructions is critical. When it comes to services, such as seeing a holistic doctor or deciding which fitness center to join, investigate whether this match is the right one for you. Overall good health includes choosing the right health care professional or gym to meet your overall wellness goals in the safest manner possible.
Valley Oaks knows that carving out self-care time can be challenging and may feel a little selfish. Yet taking a few moments each day to do something that feeds your mind and body helps you better care for those you love. If you need guidance on where to start and why time meant just for you is necessary, we’re here to help you carve out a path towards wellness.