International Self-Care Day – The Seven Pillars of Self-Care
Many people have heard the term “self-care” but may not know that there is an International Self-Care Day in Canada and the United States. On July 24th every year, individuals and groups take time to report on and acknowledge self-care activities. These self-care techniques are things you can practice to increase wellness in your daily life.
The Seven Pillars of Self-Care Can Help You
According to the International Self-Care Foundation, there are seven pillars which form a framework for good self-care. The seven pillars of self-care are:
- Health literacy – learning about your health can help you make better decisions about what you need to do for self-care. This pillar includes the capacity of individuals to obtain and understand basic health information.
- Self-awareness – self-awareness includes knowing things about your body such as your body mass index, your cholesterol numbers, blood pressure, and so on. Engaging in health screening is part of this pillar and is a great way to obtain this self-awareness.
- Physical activity – it’s clear that physical activity can reduce your risk of many illnesses like cancer and reduce your body mass index (BMI), a higher BMI putting you at higher risk for many health problems. Consider walking, cycling, running, or engaging in another physical activity for self-care.
- Healthy eating – healthy eating isn’t just about dieting or losing weight; healthy eating is about getting the proper nutrition to help your body function at its best daily. Consider eating a balanced diet with appropriate nutrition, portion sizes, and calorie intake.
- Risk avoidance or mitigation – there are many things that increase our risk of health problems and this pillar of self-care is about limiting them or eliminating them altogether. Probably the number one thing you can do in this category is to quit smoking. Smoking shortens the lifespan and increases your risk of illness, and quitting is an amazing act of self-care. Other self-care techniques in this category include: practicing safer sex, limiting alcohol intake, getting vaccinated, and using sunscreens.
- Good hygiene – while many people shower and brush their teeth daily without thinking about it, these are actually acts of self-care as they take care of your body. Hand-washing and washing food are other areas of hygiene in this pillar.
- Rational and responsible use of health products and services – health products and services can be an important part of self-care. Accessing medical help when you need it, diagnostic tests and medications when warranted, and being aware of the dangers in any medical procedure are all part of using these resources responsibly and are part of this pillar.
These self-care pillars are not designed to be used in order and you should never feel pressured to accomplish all self-care pillars at once. You can create new self-care rituals for yourself using any of the pillars and you should feel free to pick and choose what makes sense for you, over time, gradually incorporating a little from each pillar. Remember, even a small change can make a difference so celebrate any new self-care routine – that celebration is self-care too.
“This article was written by award-winning mental health writer and speaker, Natasha Tracy.”