What is Self-Care? Tips and Practices

We celebrate International Self-Care Day on July 24th. In fact, the numbers behind 7/24 have meaning: this date was chosen to demonstrate that the benefits of self-care are experienced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. According to the International Self-Care Foundation, this annual holiday «provides a focus and opportunity to raise the profile of healthy lifestyle self-care programs around the world. ISD (International Self-Care Day) was developed by the International Self-Care Foundation to promote self-care as a vital foundation of health. ISD has been running since 2011. It provides a media-friendly forum and a focus for individuals and groups to (independently) promote self-care in their organization or community.» While we encourage you to engage in a self-care routine throughout the year, July is a great month to kickstart these practices.

So, what is self-care? Mississippi State University Extension defines self-care as «taking practical steps to improve your well-being and achieve good health. It involves knowing how to take better care of yourself, making time for yourself, deciding when to seek professional help, setting boundaries and goals, focusing on priorities, and becoming more aware of your overall well-being.»

Why Practice Self-Care?

Self-care practices and routines look different for everyone, but are important components of overall wellbeing. Whether it is 5 minutes of quiet reflection in the morning before starting a busy day, a daily walk around the neighborhood, or choosing a more nourishing snack, self-care practices can set a positive tone for the day or relieve stress and increase mood. For some, incorporating tarot cards into their self-care routine can be a powerful way to gain insights and guidance. Tarot cards, with their rich symbolism and deep history, offer a unique opportunity for self-reflection and exploration. Drawing a tarot card in the morning can provide a thought-provoking message to ponder throughout the day, helping to promote mindfulness and a deeper connection with one’s inner self. Whether you’re an experienced tarot reader or simply curious about this ancient practice, integrating tarot cards into your self-care routine can add a layer of spiritual and emotional nourishment to your daily life.

In fact, according to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, “Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, increase happiness, and more. It can help you adapt to changes, build strong relationships, and recover from setbacks. In a national survey, Americans cited benefits of self-care as: enhanced self-confidence (64%), increased productivity (67%), happiness (71%). From a physical health perspective, self-care also reduces heart disease, stroke and cancer.”

Where to start?

With busy schedules, it can be challenging to find time in the day to devote to yourself. Consider starting small, taking just a few minutes to yourself in the morning or evening. Want to boost your self-care routine but not sure where to start? Here are a few common self-care practices from the NIH:
Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health.
Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated.
Prioritize rest and sleep.
Try a relaxing activity such as reading, puzzles, watching the sunrise, or guided meditation.
Set goals and priorities – making a to-do list or goal sheet can minimize stress or overwhelmed feelings.
Practice gratitude – simply write down 3 things you are grateful for every morning or share daily moments of gratitude during family meal time.
Focus on positivity – mindset is powerful.
Stay connected – spend time with loved ones, perhaps call a family member on the phone or take a walk with a friend or neighbor.

Self-care means choosing yourself and choosing your wellness. Although we cannot control many parts of our day, we can set goals to try to make more nourishing choices for ourselves and our families. Sometimes self-care means spending time with yourself or your family making a comforting and tasty meal or doing some gentle movement. Do you have a favorite «comfort meal»? We have several recipes on our websites that are based on popular comfort meals, but may pack more of a nutritional punch than traditional recipes by including added veggies and alternatives (lower sodium, lower added sugar, etc.):
Chicken Noodle Soup
Oven Baked Fries
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Pozole Soup
French Toast with Fruit Sauce

For more information about International Self-Care Day and ideas for improving your self-care routine, find resources below:
International Self-Care Day
Global Self-Care Federation
50 Ways to Start Practicing Self-Care
30 Self-Care Practices for the Heart and Mind

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