A few years ago, it was popular to choose a word that would represent your focus or your goal for the year. The word I chose was balance, in terms of work-life balance. Maintaining work-life balance is still something I strive for and after the last year and a half of living through a pandemic, this summer feels like a good time to reset and re-focus my attention to work-life balance through self-care.
As a nurse, a holistic perspective is a distinctive of my profession, caring for an individual’s bio-psycho-socio-spiritual health. This holistic perspective serves as the foundation for the following suggestions for anyone seeking self-care this summer.
Bio = Biological/Physical Health
- Nutrition – work towards eating a balance plate and hydrating. A balanced plate includes filling half your plate with veggies (e.g. broccoli, carrots, green beans), a quarter of the plate with protein (e.g. chicken, pork, fish, beef), and a quarter of your plate with healthy carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, pasta, whole grain bread). Drink plenty of water or unsweetened beverages throughout the day. Make a plan with small steps that will help you eat a balanced plate 75-80% of the time. Balance and moderation are key to sustaining healthy eating! Here are a couple of resources for healthy eating: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/ and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics https://www.eatright.org/
- Movement – it is important to keep your body moving to maintain overall health. Include activities for cardio (e.g. walking, jogging), strength (e.g. weights, resistance bands), and flexibility (e.g. stretching) in your weekly routine. Choose a variety of activities that you enjoy. Consider getting a “workout” buddy to help keep you motivated and accountable. For more information on staying active, see these resources: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/staying-active/ and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/health-benefits-of-physical-activity-for-adults.html
- Sleep – getting plenty of rest is often overlooked as a part of one’s health. Health professionals use the term “sleep hygiene” to describe the one’s sleep routine, or the steps one takes to improve their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The target is eight hours of sleep each night. Tips for sleep hygiene include a regular time to go to bed and wake up, creating a relaxing sleep environment, avoid using electronic devices in your bedroom, and getting some exercise during the day. Inadequate sleep can affect all aspects of our health and daily functioning. Resources for further information on sleep hygiene include: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html and The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/
Psycho-Socio = Psychological/Social Health
- Stress management – the first step in managing stress is to be aware of what causes you stress (your stressors). Once you are aware of and can recognize your stressors, you can act to manage them. Example of effective stress management techniques include exercise, listening to music, and meditation. Find what works for you!
- Practice self-respect and self-compassion. Avoid judging yourself or comparing yourself to others. Brene Brown addresses this concept well through her statement, “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”
- Unplug – take time away from electronics and social media. This can be as simple as quiet time for yourself, taking time for a hobby, or spending time with family and friends.
- Mental health should be viewed just as physical health is viewed, without shame. If you recognize that you are having difficulty sleeping, are feeling a loss of interest in things you usually enjoy, or are struggling to perform typical daily functions, seek professional help from a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a psychologist, or psychiatrist.
- For additional information on psycho-social health see: National Institute of Mental Health, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/my-mental-health-do-i-need-help/ and The American Psychiatric Nurses Association, https://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=6220
- Spirituality is a connection to something greater than yourself. For some, spirituality may be associated with a particular religious faith; for others, spirituality is simply a feeling of interconnectedness. Values, beliefs, and a sense of purpose stem from one’s spirituality. Spiritual health may be maintained through engaging in a church, prayer, and/or reflection. For additional information on spirituality, see University of Minnesota, https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-spirituality
As you begin this summer season, take time to reflect on and commit to your personal wellness. Maybe you want to choose a word that represents your intention for self-care and will serve as your guide to taking care of you. Set a goal and choose small actionable steps to begin your holistic plan for self-care. Self-care is not selfish; taking care of yourself will enable you to be at your best personally and professionally.
UMHB strives to not only equip students with an education for life, but also to give every student the experience of a lifetime. We invite you to check out our website for more information, or stop by for a visit to see why UMHB would be a great fit for you!
Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.Katie Reed