The 24th of July is International Self-Care Day and each year the campaign encourages individuals to take charge of their healthcare with the aim of improving their overall health and wellbeing. With lifestyle or noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases on the rise, there’s never been a better time to do so.
“More than 60% of all deaths globally can be attributed to NCDs and this figure is expected to increase to 75% by 2030,” says Nicola Brink, executive director of the Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa (SMASA), an independent organisation committed to promoting responsible self-care and self-medication to the South African public. “NCDs place second on the list of South Africa’s ‘quadruple burden of disease’, making it critical for all South Africans to make good decisions today that will positively impact their health in the future.”
Here are six self-care tips worth implementing ahead of Self-Care Day 2016:
1. Eat well
When it comes to nutrition, there’s no shortage of opinions out there and deciding between Banting, Paleo and Atkins can end up being more frustrating than making zucchini noodles. That said, there are some basic nutrition rules, like these, worth implementing:
-Limit your intake of processed foods. Low HI (human intervention) food is the new buzzword and it’s all about avoiding those foods that have undergone several processes en route to your table. Foods that don’t require a label are best – think fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat, fish etc.
-Opt for whole grains – rye, oats, quinoa etc. – rather than white bread and pasta
-Make sure you’re getting enough protein as it’s one of the building blocks of muscles, bones, blood and cartilage
-Keep yourself well hydrated
2. Exercise regularly
We all know that we need to exercise. Aside from its multiple health benefits, exercise also plays a key role in lifting our mood, controlling our weight, boosting our energy levels and contributing to better sleep. Speaking of which…
3. Prioritise sleep
Research shows that a definite link exists between insufficient sleep and obesity, heart disease and diabetes – something to think about next time you forego an early bedtime to binge watch your favourite TV series instead. And the topic of screen time, make sure you switch off your screen well before you turn in for the night. Why? Because screens give off a blue light that decreases melatonin production, which in turn negatively affects your sleep cycle.
4. Stress less
High levels of stress wreak havoc on our health. Here are a few pointers to help you manage your stress:
-Set realistic expectations for yourself
-Get active and get the endorphins going
-Take five minutes to focus on your breathing when you’re feeling overwhelmed
-Turn on your favourite music – research shows that relaxing music has a positive effect on anxiety
-Talk to a friend about how you’re feeling
5. Take time out
‘Me time’ hasn’t become part of our vocabulary for nothing. We need it. So prioritise yourself and take an hour or two to do something on your own. It could be catching up with a good friend, reading in the garden, watching a movie, having a massage – whatever relaxes you and makes you feel good about yourself.
6. Go offline
Ever feel like you spend more time in the digital world than you do in the real one? It’s not surprising since most of us spend a considerable portion of the day staring at a screen. Switching off from social media and cutting down the amount of time we spend on news sites each day are excellent ways to give our overloaded brains a break and help us to be present in the moment.