7 Ways We Can Practice Bodily Self-Care
Making sure we take care of our bodies is a key cornerstone of health. Often we overlook how important it is to practice bodily self-care and only take notice when our body starts talking to us in the form of pain such as headaches, stiff achy muscles and joints, or fatigue, low energy, and sleep disturbances. Your body is trying to tell you something, this is the purpose of these symptoms. Have we given our body what it needs? Have we taken time to check in?
In a culture where we are taught "mind over matter" we tend to apply this perspective daily to get done what we need to get done without tuning into the body and its needs, which results in us pushing our body passed its limit and not providing it with what it needs to function effectively. For example, we have a work deadline to complete so we skip lunch, and as a result our body does not receive the energy it requires; this may result in symptoms of dizziness as blood-glucose levels become imbalanced, or we are rushing from one job to the next and therefore keep ignoring the signal of thirst and don't grab that glass of water or cup of herbal tea our body is asking for to be hydrated; resulting in a headache at the end of the day. Another example I'm sure we can all relate to is feeling tired or exhausted, yet we do not slow down to rest or relax which the body is telling us it needs, instead we apply the "mind over matter" belief and push down those feelings/bodily needs and keep going.
Long-term this is not going to be beneficial for our general physical and mental health and wellbeing and can be instrumental in developing chronic health conditions. So how do we tap into our bodily sensations so we can be more in-tune with our body and what signals it is sending us? The answer here is mindfulness. A daily mindfulness practice will enable you to be more aware of what your body is telling you, what it is asking for, and allow you to be more conscious of the decisions you are making. In this type of situation, taking a pause and focusing on your body throughout the day by scanning it, will allow you to feel those bodily sensations and to ask yourself what does my body need right now? Have I eaten or eaten enough? Have I drunken any water? Have I engaged in a restful activity today? The more you practice this the easier it will become. That lunch won't be skipped, that signal for thirst ignored, or tiredness pushed through. Your body will thank you for it! You will also start to become aware of how your body feels, what specific area/s of your body is/are effected when you are not practicing bodily self-care and your body is not getting its needs met.
Here's 7 ways we can practice bodily self-care daily.
1. Eat Nutritious Food Regularly
Eating nutritious food, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, at regular intervals throughout the day will provide your body with the fuel, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function effectively, boosting energy and mental clarity and reducing feelings of fatigue.
2. Drink Water Daily
Drinking water daily will help to keep the cells of your body adequately hydrated. Considering our bodies are made up of approximately 70% water, this is an important daily body-care practice. Drinking water will increase digestion, aid in flushing toxins and waste products, enhance skin health, and improve cognitive function.
3. Breathe Deeply Often
Breathing deeply often throughout the day will increase the oxygen your cells receive whilst removing carbon dioxide from the lungs, this will help to reduce stress, clear brain fog, increase energy, decrease feelings of sleepiness during the day, and prevent headaches, dizziness and fatigue from developing.
Finding a way to move your body as much as possible during the day is a fantastic bodily self-care practice. Our bodies are designed to move. Movement could be in the form of walking, running, swimming, sports, cross-fit, hiking, yoga, karate, tai chi, pilates, trampolining, the list goes on, there are so many options, which is fantastic! If these options are not doable for you due to work commitments, another way you can ensure your body is getting the movement it needs daily could be to walk or bike to work, take the stairs instead of the lift, get up from your desk regularly and walk around or stretch, go outside during your lunch break or if time allows attend a lunchtime spin class or yoga session. Movement strengthens the muscles and bones, increases circulation and cardiovascular function, enhances detoxification processes, improves oxygen levels and carbon dioxide removal, boosts mood, aids digestion, balances the nervous system, and improves quality of sleep. A win win!
5. Sleep Well
Adequate sleep allows our body to relax and repair, to detox and balance. When we get enough sleep, this amount will vary from person to person, at least 8-9 hours a night for adults on average, we are better able to cope with stress, are more alert, productive, happy and are more likely to make healthier and positive life choices.
6. Rest & Relax
Resting and relaxing provides our body the opportunity to come out of "fight-or-flight" stress response mode and into "rest-and-digest" relaxation response mode. This will result in increasing our digestive processes and assimilation of nutrients, balancing our hormones, improving our stress coping abilities, reducing anxiety and depression, boosting energy and mental clarity, enhancing our immunity, and improving the removal of waste and toxins from the body.
7. Reduce Toxins
Reducing the amount of toxins our bodies are exposed to daily is a great way to support a bodily self-care practice. Although our bodies are designed to remove harmful toxins, in today's society we are exposed to an array of differing toxic substances from air pollution and chemicals in our food and drinking water to household cleaning products and personal care items. If we can reduce this load, our bodies will be under less strain, particularly our detoxification systems/organs: the digestive and integumentary (our skin) systems, and our liver and kidneys, allowing other important bodily functions to take place. In addition, a reduction in the inflammatory response by the immune system will occur and therefore, a reduction in body inflammation and an increase in our immunity. This can result in less inflammatory conditions such as joint aches, skin rashes, and chronic fatigue and reduced colds, flus, and seasonal hayfever reactions.
What ways are you already practicing body self-care? What ways would you like to improve the way you care for your body? Comment in the comments section below :)