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Self Care Sunday: physical self care

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

At Amy Wright & Co., we see health, wellness and self care through a holistic lens. That means that in order to take good care of ourselves, we need to be mindful of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs and tend to all of them to varying degrees at different times. If we are mindful, our bodies will tell us what we need, when we need it.

When we think about health and wellness, the state of our physical bodies is what probably comes to mind first. We also tend to be more aware of our overall wellness when something is unwell. To keep the human gears turning smoothly, we can focus on several key areas

  • Diet

  • Hydration

  • Movement

  • Touch

  • Medical maintenance

Many of us grew up with the food pyramid. As we age and science evolves, our nutritional needs change. What remains the same, though, is that none of us need a lot of simple sugar. Yet, that’s what many of us grab when we want a boost, a treat, or are emotionally eating. Excess calories in our diets from sugar can increase inflammation and risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Focus on mindful eating and creating a diet that meets your nutritional and metabolic needs. Eat as often as necessary to optimize your metabolism.

According to the lay press, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration is even more common among older adults and is a frequent cause of hospital admission. Mayo Clinic suggests that women should drink 11.5c (2.7 liters) of water a day; 15.5 c (2.7 liters) are recommended for men. Generally speaking, we should be drinking .5 – 1.0 oz of water for each pound we weigh. If you’re like me and really hate the taste of plain, still water, try infusing fruit or veggies in your water or try unsweetened sparkling water.

I personally hate the word exercise. I equate it with “work.” I don’t like “working out,” either. I’ve come to embrace “movement.” We’re complicated machines, us humans, and we need to keep the gears turning to avoid seizing up. Limit how much you sit in a day. The more we sit, the higher our risks of metabolic problems. Shoot for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Low impact (e.g., walking, stretching) is perfectly fine; just keep moving. To meet specific fitness goals, you may need to monitor your heart rate or increase time. Weight-bearing exercise is recommended for making bones stronger and denser and improving coordination, balance and flexibility. The key to this movement is that it should be something you enjoy. Take your dog for a stroll; it’s good for both of you! Have a kitchen dance party while prepping dinner. Stretch yourself out first thing in the morning like a cat. Take a group fitness class. Hit the gym with your earbuds in to lift heavy things.

Physical touch is an often overlooked component of physical self care, especially if you consider it one of your “love languages.” Physical touch in babies is essential to development; absence of it contributes to “failure to thrive” and can be literally lethal. We’re all just bigger babies. Touch and the oxytocin our bodies release in response can reduce physical and emotional pain, increase feelings of acceptance and inclusion, reduce anxiety and stress, boost immune function and lower blood pressure. Older adults who live alone, in particular, do not experience physical touch regularly resulting in “touch starvation.” This was especially true during the quarantine portion of the pandemic. Some ways we can meet our older parents’ need for touch in particular include

  • Hugging when we say hello and goodbye

  • Offering an arm for balance when going for a walk

  • Holding hands or touching their arm when talking

  • Brushing their hair

  • Bringing a pet to pet

  • Arranging massages

The first mammogram is a milestone of turning 40. Gentlemen can look forward to their first prostate exam around 50. Get your screenings! Early detection is key to curing many serious diseases. Know that feeling lousy is not a normal part of aging. I can’t over-emphasize this: if we feel like something is off, it probably is. Most of us are very intuitive and sensitive to the messages we get from our bodies. Find a doctor that listens and has you feeling heard. Your concerns are not trivial, and with good habits and support, wellness is possible for many of us.

Effective self care is a plan comprised of awareness, education, and daily practice. Subscribe to our blog or connect on social media for more self care info and tools to support your self care practice.

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