Twenty years ago, no, make that ten years ago, the concept of self-care was still relatively unknown; at least by that phrase. Now it’s 2023 and not only is the term part of the American lexicon but, most people, likely yourself included, participate in some form of self-care, even if it’s not labeled as such.
The History of Self-Care
The history of self-care really stems from the concept of self-help; which has been around since about the 1950s, when doctors began recommending patients take an active role in their own healthcare by watching what they eat, exercising, and simply establishing more healthy habits.
This applied most strongly to people doctors believed had emotionally stressful careers. They began encouraging workers in fields such as counseling, nursing, and social work, to actively attend to their own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These professions are now routinely taught about the necessity for self-care to prevent fatigue and burnout.
What is self-care? Self-care is the deliberate practice of maintaining a set of behaviors that ensure one’s well-being. That includes overall health habits, taking time to look after one’s health when ill, and following an intentional daily routine with regard to food choices, exercise, sleep, and even dental health. Basic self-care can sometimes be as simple as just knowing when to take a break.
Benefits of Self-Care
The pace of life in the 2000s, ever-present stress, pressure, and anxiety, justify the need for self-care; it has become indispensable for almost everyone. Adopting a self-care routine has also been clinically proven to reduce anxiety and depression, lower stress, and provide an overall better quality of life¹. It can help one adapt to stress, maintain good relationships, and recover more easily when times get tough.
In today’s unpredictable world, you want to be ready for anything. You’re better equipped to thrive when you have a solid foundation of physical, mental, and emotional strength. Engaging in a self-care routine doesn’t take a lot of effort, maybe just a little time management. So, what is the best self-care plan? You can build your foundation on four pillars of self-care: nutrition, sleep hygiene, social support, and physical activity.
Pillar #1 – Nutrition
What you put in your body is the first step toward health, longevity, and living an energetic life. Good nutrition provides the energy you’ll need for engaging in challenging physical activity and in fact, it impacts all the pillars. Good nutrition begins with eliminating junk food and focusing on meals that include a serving of clean, lean, protein, plenty of leafy green vegetables, and a healthy fat source (also make sure to drink plenty of purified water between meals.) Check with your MaxLiving Chiropractor for specific guidance on planning healthy meals.
Due to nutrient-depleted soil, pollution, pesticides, and other environmental toxins, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain the nutrients your body needs through diet alone; even the healthiest diet. Thus, high-quality supplements play an important role in a good nutrition program to make sure your body has the nutrients it needs to produce energy, build muscle, and support a healthy immune system. Your MaxLiving Chiropractor can help you choose the nutritional supplements that best suit your needs.
Pillar #2 – Sleep Hygiene
The second pillar of self-care is sleep hygiene. According to the CDC, over 35%of all adults in the U.S. are sleeping on average, less than seven hours per night². Lack of quality sleep can lead to obesity, depression, poor cognitive function, and more. Good self-care means getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
But what if you can’t sleep?
Strategies such as the power down hour can be helpful, where artificial lights are dimmed one hour prior to sleep (preferably no artificial light past 10:00 pm.) Alternatively, filtering artificial light through amber-colored glasses in the evening can be helpful.
Lowering the thermostat to 68°F (or lower) has been shown to improve sleep quality as well as a very dark room (i.e., absent any flickering lights from electronic devices.) A satin sleep mask can also be helpful. Recent studies³ have noted that exposure to natural sunlight (with as much bare skin exposed as possible) around mid-day, without sunscreen, for about 20 minutes, led to an increase in estrogen for women and testosterone in men; which helped improve sleep quality for both at bedtime.
Pillar #3 – Social Support
A good social support system is the third pillar of self-care. Scientists define social support as verbal and nonverbal communication between people that reduces uncertainty about a situation, one’s self, the other person, or their relationship – to create a feeling of personal control in their experience⁴. Other scientists use a system that defines five general categories of social support⁵: informational, emotional, esteem, social network support, and tangible support (taking an active role in helping someone manage a problem they’re experiencing.)
With an increasing number of Americans working or studying from home, people spending unprecedented amounts of time on electronic devices, and other social and cultural changes, Americans are more isolated than ever before with depression and anxiety on the rise. Human beings are social creatures. We are meant to interact and support each other in different ways. It may require more of effort than it once did but, it’s important to make that effort, to get out and socialize with family and friends. From meeting a friend for coffee to girl’s night out – it’s important to make time to connect socially with others, to share your life, your struggles, and your victories.
Pillar #4 – Physical Activity
The last of the four pillars is physical activity. Suffice it to say, a strong body makes a strong mind. Period. While physical activity was once the domain of weight loss, most people recognize its value far exceeds the mere burning of calories. Benefits include boosting immunity, managing stress, depression, anxiety, boosting confidence and self-esteem, and generally preparing one for the rigors of life.
Whether you develop a yoga practice, frequent the indoor rock-climbing gym, lift weights, or regularly explore new hiking trails, fitting fitness into your life is a must. Ask your MaxLiving Chiropractor for guidance on the best type of exercise for your body. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a great nutritional supplement to look into adding to your workout routine. It helps increase the body’s energy levels, enhances stamina, and provides support for those challenging workouts.
There are several forms of CoQ10 but the preferred form is ubiquinone, which gets its name from the word “ubiquitous,” which means, “present, appearing, or found everywhere.” That’s because CoQ10 is found in every cell in the body. The heart, brain, and other organs require high levels of CoQ10 to function optimally. MaxLiving CoQ10 is formulated with Lipoic Acid. Both CoQ10 and alpha-lipoic acid are essential in converting fats, carbohydrates, and proteins from food into energy. Additionally, lipoic acid is an important antioxidant that helps to fight damage from free radicals everywhere in the body and supports the natural detoxification process in the body.
Other Types of Self-Care
Other examples of self-care include indulging in a hot, detox bath, an infrared healing sauna, or perhaps a lymphatic drainage massage – along with regular chiropractic adjustments. Whether you round out your self-care planner with a mani-pedi or a night out with the guys, one thing’s for sure, making self-care a priority will help keep you healthy, revitalized, focused, and ready for anything.
About the Author
Jini Cicero is a Los Angeles-based Strength and Conditioning Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. With over 20 years of experience as a health, fitness, and nutraceutical professional, Jini is passionate about advancing natural medicine and optimal health. Whether she’s working with Hollywood celebrities or cancer patients, Jini uniquely combines exercise science, sports nutrition, and corrective exercise. As a speaker, presenter, and writer, her work has been featured in numerous publications, such as Shape, MindBodyGreen, and The L.A. Daily News.