Do you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning? Do you find you’re more prone to colds than you used to be? Have your 35 year old age-related aches and pains become more pronounced? If you answered yes to even one of these questions you may need to add physical self-care activities to your daily routine.
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What is physical self-care?
Physical self-care is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. There are many mental and physical benefits to incorporating simple daily physical activities to your self-care routine. Physical self-care includes any activity that involves improving and/or maintaining the health and wellness of your body.
For many of us, physical self-care is related to a lot of superficial, pampering activities; manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages. These activities relate to how we perceive ourselves and how our body feels. While these mostly focus on our appearance, how we feel about ourselves can be a huge determinant of our overall health.
Physical health is also a manifestation of the things that are going on inside. When we are stressed, our body shows it. Alternatively, when we set the intention to take care of ourselves, we choose to be a good steward of the one body and one life we have.
This article will discuss activities that focus more on the physiology and internal determinants of our physical health. It may contain affiliate links. You can read our entire affiliate disclosure here.
Why is taking care of your body important?
Taking care of your body is one of the main functions of physical self-care. There are many benefits of taking care of your body through physical self-care activities. Some of those benefits are:
- Improved energy
- Improved productivity
- Reduced stress
- Better life expectancy
- Prevention of disease
How do you practice physical self-care?
The best way to practice physical self-care is to incorporate it into your self-care plan. Having a rhythm that prioritizes self-care is the best way to make sure that you are acknowledging your physical self-care needs.
I always recommend that anyone who is desiring to add more self-care into their schedule has a list of go-to self-care activities that they can readily access when they need in the areas of healthy eating, exercise, sleep habits and practical physical activities.
Take care of your body by incorporating smart eating habits
There is a saying that what you put in is what you get out. This is no different when it comes to your physical health and taking care of your body. This looks like replacing poor diet choices with smart eating habits. Choosing to make clean eating choices may take a little work, but the idea is you simply want to change your options from poor food choices to better ones! Here’s an example:
Breakfast 1: Coffee with artificial sweetener, white bread toast with name brand jelly and cereal with high fructose corn syrup
Here the number of processed foods as well as simple sugars will leave you poorly nourished and in need of a quick snack within an hour! Choose instead this breakfast:
Breakfast 2: Tea with honey, fresh berries, oatmeal with nuts and a banana, and granola
Even choosing to change one meal can make significant impact in your overall health because of the cumulative effect. Your new healthier breakfast keeps you full for longer, perhaps even to lunch where you have a meal prepped salad and chicken breast. These two healthy options leave you feeling great so you choose another and another healthy choice.
Some additional healthy choices you can make to create a healthy diet for self-care are:
- Add a variety veggies to your day
- Choose whole grains instead of processed or simple carbohydrates
- If your diet permits, add low-fat dairy to your menu
- Select lean proteins for muscle maintenance and energy
- Avoid processed or fast foods
- Reduce caffeine intake and opt for herbal tea instead
Exercise as a form of self-care
While you may currently only think of a nice relaxing bath or a manicure as your go to self-care activities, exercise is an expression of self-care I would like you to consider. Self-care is any activity that helps reduce stress and promotes mental health, by this definition, exercise is a perfect form of self-care. It is well known that exercise can lead to an improved physique. However, exercising can also improve the function of the brain as well.
Exercise causes your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that create a sense of euphoria and alertness. On the flip side, exercising decreases the production of stress-hormones like cortisol.
If you are looking to make exercise a habit you want to find something you enjoy doing that will fit into the self-care plan you create. Going for a walk or hike, doing yoga or Pilates, cycling and weightlifting are some methods of exercising that you can try! Some tips for how to exercise more often include:
- Sneak exercise into your workday with chair exercises
- Take a family walk after dinner so everyone gets exercise and you get to check off the self-care habit of spending time outside (Get your daily dose of Vitamin D, just don’t forget sunscreen if necessary)
- Choose something you enjoy, its okay to try out different activities until you find something you like
- Select activities that don’t require a lot to get started. If you don’t have a bike, maybe try walking until you’ve got more of a routine started before purchasing a bike
- Find a buddy or take a group class for accountability
- Track your progress (not weight necessarily, think ability, feeling or mood after workout, etc)
Create healthy sleep habits for overall physical health
Sometimes when I feel like I am at my wits end and frustration feels like its about to boil over, I do a quick self-assessment. Sure, the kids are whining, I stayed at work too long, and nothing in the house is clean, but sometimes my frustration has nothing to do with my circumstances and everything to do with the fact that I need a nap!
Proper sleep hygiene is the cornerstone of good physical self-care. Our bodies need rest in order to restore and repair itself. Perhaps the aging feeling you are experiences has less to do with the fact that “everything goes south at 35” and more to do with your regular 5 hours of sleep routine.
The best thing to do to improve your nights sleep is to avoid bad sleep hygiene habits like these:
- Late night snacking is bad on its own. The spike in sugar decreases your ability to fall asleep quickly, and late-night snacking is usually unhealthy. Instead of reaching for the ice cream opt for a healthy, filling dinner and then go to sleep at a decent hour, if you happen to be up late, try a cup of hot tea?
- Intense exercising prior to bed
- Sleeping near your phone
- Opting to work later into the night with the same wake-up time
Practical ideas for your physical self-care plan
Self-care as a rule is all about being intentional about doing things that improve your well-being. With physical self-care the main thing most of us think about are diet and exercise. Sleep is considered at times, but there are some lesser considered activities that can be done for your physical wellbeing that are simple and practical.
- Drinking water is an excellent way to stay hydrated which is an important part of maintaining basic metabolism. Our bodies are made mostly of water so get some self-care and drink up!
- The simple act of moisturizing your skin is a self-care activity which could be considered common sense but can be made to be quite the treat! Try out a lotion that not only hydrates your skin but also smells great!
- Using essential oils in your shower is another way to add luxury to a practical self-care activity. My favorites are sweet orange and eucalyptus!
- Annual medical and dental check-ups are often considered to be necessities for our children, but often as moms we find we go 2-3 years without them. Making sure that you are putting as much emphasis on your own health as you do on the health of your children is a huge factor in the importance of self-care
- Create a morning skin care routine
- Eat to fuel your body with at least 3 square meals a day. Understand your personal caloric needs and meet those daily
- Park your car further out when you go shopping
- Wear clothes that make you feel good
- Start your day off right with a morning routine that invites calm and peace to your day
Create a self-care plan with physical self-care activities
The best way to incorporate more self-care into your routine is by creating a self-care plan. To create a self-care plan you must first assess your self-care needs. Once you have determined the area of most need, then try creating a morning or night routine to curate a rhythm of self-care into your lifestyle!