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Why Physical Self-Care is Important & How to do It

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Self-care is on the uptick. But, often, self-care is misunderstood. I used to think it was getting a pedicure and soaking in the tub. But, self-care is way more than bubble baths and manicures. Self-care is any activity that improves your overall health.

Why is physical self-care important?

You and I are like machines. Think about it? Everything we think and do requires our body. Most people don't hesitate to get their car tuned up. It's essential to keep it running smoothly to take them where they want to go. Most people think of their vehicle as a means to get to work or for recreation.

On the other hand, most people put off going to the doctor for an annual physical. Most people don't think about keeping their bodies tuned up. I was guilty of putting off annual physicals so long that my primary physician kicked me out of their practice. For real, I hadn't gone in four years. Oops. So why is that? Time, maybe?

However, if we don't make time to take care of our bodies on the inside and outside, we'll have to take time for illness. I also know firsthand.

As a teacher, I neglected my body's signal to get rid of waste. I held it because I didn't have anyone to supervise the kids, and I was afraid to ask for help—what a mistake. In addition, I didn't drink enough water because I knew I didn't have time to go to the bathroom. All educators know this struggle is real.

Again, a mistake! After years and years of dehydration, I developed a colon disease that landed me in the emergency room, flopping on an examination table like a fish in pain beyond the number scale 1 - 10. I didn't know I had the disease. Unfortunately, it was discovered and diagnosed in undesirable circumstances.

I tell you this, so you know the importance of taking care of your body. Take the breaks. Listen to your body. Ask for help.

When you take care of your body, you have more energy and more time in the long run.

We've heard it repeatedly: " Put on your oxygen mask before you take care of someone else."

It's true. You can't pour from an empty cup either. It would be best if you made time to put on your mask and fill your cup regularly. Be proactive instead of reactive (like I was). Purposefully plan self-care into your rhythms & routines.

Physical self-care improves your overall health, reduces stress, decreases depression, decreases burnout, and gives you the energy to care for all those you teach, lead, and love.

What is physical self-care and what are the benefits of physical self-care?

Physical self-care is anything you do to maintain a healthy body. There are four pillars: Sleep, Movement, Nutrition, and Nurture. Research shows self-care promotes positive health outcomes, such as fostering resilience, living longer, and becoming better equipped to manage stress.

  1. Sleep- Proper sleep repairs cells, recharge your heart and mind, increases your mood & immune system, and reduces stress. Sleep is magical. Most adults don't get enough sleep. Adults need to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

  2. Movement- Any exercise like walking, dancing, gardening, or running enhances your overall well-being. Activity reduces stress and anxiety. Movement produces serotonin, a feel-good hormone. Movement gives you muscle, improves memory, and keeps you strong.

  3. Nutrition- Food is fuel. It's not about a diet program. It's all about eating life-giving, energy-giving foods. Eat whole foods for physical self-care.

  4. Nurture- Schedule and follow through with annual exams for your body. Take time off as needed. (Remember to be proactive instead of reactive. Take care of your health before a serious problem arises.)

How do you do physical self-care?

1. Sleep

Maintain a healthy sleep schedule by having a bedtime ritual. I stop all scrolling and electronics two hours before I plan to crawl into bed. When I do, I wake up rested, ready to roll. When I don't, I toss & turn. I wake up tired & testy. I spent the same amount of time in bed, but only a bedtime ritual brought rest & resilience. So, be sure to engage in relaxing activities before bed.

2. Movement

Keep physically active. Find a way to move at least 30 minutes every day. Choose something you enjoy like walking, dancing, biking, or running—even gardening.

3. Nutrition

Eat regularly. Take time to eat lunch. Step away from your desk or workspace and slow down to eat. Be mindful and slowly chew your food. Doing this helps you listen to your body. It enables you to eat less because you listen to your body instead of being distracted. Many times, I ate hunched over email. Eating and email left me feeling stressed, and I ate twice as much because I mindlessly stuffed my face while reading. Now, I'm mindful. I tune into what my body wants and needs. By doing so, I eat less and have less stress and indigestion. Prepare your meals ahead of time. Each night, I prepare my healthy lunch for the next day. By preparing meals ahead of time, I make better fuel-for-my-body choices. I don't wait until I'm hungry and grab something on the run. Shop for whole, healthy foods and keep your home stocked with them. Water is life! Be sure to stay hydrated. Water gives you energy.

4. Nurture

Take time off when you need it. For example, take time off for annual exams such as physicals, dental visits, mammograms, etc. Also, take time off for a self-care day. At the moment, it seems like there is no time to keep up with those appointments. But trust me, they are preventive. How you treat your body today determines your health and ability tomorrow. In addition, take regular breaks from technology such as phones, email, and social media. Another way to nurture your body is to sit in a massage chair, take a warm shower, or take a warm bath to relax.

Physical self-care ties to staying S T R O N G. Remember to S- Stop and remember your why. For me, I want to continue to have energy and vitality for my grandkids in addition to the kids I teach and lead.

T- Take Time to Thank. Be thankful for any step you make to take better care of yourself.

R- Rest & Revive

O- Omit Negative. Eliminate anything that doesn't serve your physical health. For example, I don't keep sweets in the house because sugar is addictive to me. Sure, I partake in sweet treats, but only once in a while. I don't have them in the house, because I'll eat them. I have no self-control when it comes to sugar. Sugar is a negative element in my life. It depletes my energy; therefore, it has to go. I omit it.

N- Never Give Up. Don't give up if you slip up or don't choose physical self-care for a day or two or a month or two. Start again. You can do it.

G- Go Deeper. Seek out ways to learn more about taking care of your physical health.

Making a change for the better — whether that's getting more steps in the day, eating healthy, or drinking more water — requires commitment and consistency. So how do you get started? By taking baby steps, of course!

This article is part 2 of a 7 part blog series.

You can read the others here:

I'm cheering for you.

YOU make a difference! 💕Pamela

Learn about being STRONG & how to cultivate life-changing relationships with families and students in my new book. I share personal student stories and strategies for cultivating culture and community rooted in relationships. It's centered around amplifying all students' potential and unshakeable relationships that raise student achievement. Click here or the image to go to Amazon. 😃

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