What is self care?
Self-care is the act of taking responsibility for your own well-being. It is particularly important to make time for self-care if you have a chronic condition as it can help to prevent symptoms from getting worse. Self-care is more than just taking a bubble bath, it means deliberate and proactive steps to meet your physical, emotional, and social needs. Here are some tips and advice for to help you implement self-care into your day-to-day.
Looking after your physical health
Managing a chronic condition can be tiring, so it’s important to pace yourself and not overdo things. Pacing activities means breaking up tasks and spreading them throughout the day, taking rest breaks when needed, and delegating tasks to others when possible.
Food is medicine, so following a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help to manage inflammation and symptoms. Supplements can also help to support your body. Fish oil, a multivitamin and probiotics are a good place to start.
Light movement can also improve your physical well-being. Gentle exercises such as yoga, swimming, or walking can improve mobility, flexibility, and reduce stress. It’s important to start slowly and gradually build up the intensity of exercise over time.
Finally, getting into nature can be a great way to care for yourself because spending time outside is proven to reduce stress and improve mental health. Whether it’s going for a walk in a local park, sitting by a river or lake, or taking a hike in the mountains, nature can provide a healing environment.
Looking after your emotional health
Chronic conditions can be emotionally draining, so it’s essential to make time to find joy and happiness in your life. Whether it’s listening to music, reading a book, or doing arts and crafts – your favourite activities will help to improve your mood and symptoms.
In addition, mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing have been shown to reduce chronic pain and improve mental health. Journaling and reflecting on what you’re grateful can alleviate symptoms by shifting your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones.
Looking after yourself socially
Social connection is an important part of self-care. Spending time with loved ones and doing activities in a group can lift your mood and reduce stress. Finding purpose through work or volunteering can also support your well-being.
Recovering from a chronic condition
Even if you have been living with and managing your chronic condition for a long time, recovery is possible for many people. This is because new research suggests that hyper-arousal in the brain may cause chronic symptoms such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, stomach problems, headaches, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, and much more.
Although the brain can become overactive and cause these symptoms as a protective mechanism, it can also be rewired in the opposite direction through a process called ‘brain retraining’. Brain retraining occurs through the repetition of certain exercises which teach the brain that you are safe. One well-known type of brain retraining is The Gupta Program, which has helped thousands of people to recover.
To learn more about the science behind brain retraining and how it can support your recovery, sign up to the Gupta Program’s free trial.