Self-care has become a bit of a buzz phrase in recent years, evolving to encompass spa days, bubble baths and even ‘retail therapy’. In this evolution, its meaning has been diluted in mainstream portrayals, becoming more synonymous with self indulgence rather than truly caring for one’s well being.
But let’s not forget about the definition of the phrase that is widely accepted throughout the medical world. The World Health Organization defines self-care as: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
The word ‘health’ is an umbrella term for all facets of human wellbeing, including physical, mental and emotional health. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how self-care can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on how an individual views their own needs and state of health. However, while it’s easy and enjoyable to spend your me-time in the bath surrounded by candles with a book on the go, your self-care routine should also encompass the tasks that are not so relaxing, but essential for optimum health.
Dr Fiona MacRae, hormone specialist at the Marion Gluck Clinic, explains, “It’s very easy to place your health on the backburner when you’ve got a busy life. When you put off healthcare maintenance, such as going for your blood tests or attending a follow-up with your doctor, you prevent yourself from achieving optimum health management. Then, in a year’s time, an issue with your health seemingly comes from nowhere when it could have been prevented. The solution is simple: make healthcare a priority. We do not have a National Health Service so much as a ‘National Disease Management Service’. We seem to have missed the point. Prioritise health; ensure you have a healthy diet, take some form of regular exercise and above all reduce stress. This will all help to prevent disease”.
Below, we explore five self-care tasks from a healthcare perspective which you can tick off your to-do list today.
5 Healthcare-Related Self-Care Tasks To Tick Off Today
1. Manage your stress levels
A little stress can be good for you, but a lot of stress can be very damaging to your health, including your hormone health. Unfortunately, many of us know that this is true, yet continue to pile on the stress, be it with work, family, life administration or other responsibilities.
With Stress Awareness Week coming up (7th to 11th November 2022), now is a great time to take action when it comes to stress management. While engaging in relaxing activities – such as spending time in nature or getting a massage – is great for de-stressing, you need to make time for it in the first place.
Unfortunately, that means something has got to give in order to create balance. This could mean:
- Delegating more work to other employees at your job
- Asking for time off or flexible/hybrid working
- Re-assigning chores to other members of your household
- Outsourcing tasks such as cleaning, DIY and grocery shopping
- Saying ‘no’ to social or work events that drain your energy rather than making you feel more positive
- Devoting a few minutes of every day to simple deep breathing exercise, meditation and mindful movement such as Yoga or Tai Chi. Adopt a mindful approach and present moment awareness. Just pause and take a breath.
Once you have created space in your schedule, use it to focus on de-stressing. Try to avoid putting pressure on yourself to feel a certain way during this time; instead, just be present and know that you can spend your time exactly how you want to.
2. Book the medical appointments that you’ve been putting off
Unfortunately, not all clinics are the same, and we’ve all been through the experience of waiting in a phone queue for half an hour in order to book an appointment through our GP’s receptionist. However, that’s not the case at The Marion Gluck Clinic. When it comes to booking consultations, follow-ups and blood tests, you can either speak to our Patient Care Team over the phone or use our easy online booking system, which takes just two minutes.
Once you’ve booked your appointment, it’s a load off your mind. You can then note down any symptoms you’ve been experiencing or questions you want to ask ahead of your appointment so that you can get the most out of it.
3. Eat mindfully
Mindful eating means taking the time to savour and appreciate your food while eating it. Many of us eat while we’re doing other tasks, for example, snacking while working or eating dinner in front of the TV. This causes a dissociation around food, which can lead to overeating or making poor dietary choices.
When we eat mindfully, we have better control over our relationship with food, which leads to healthier eating habits. You can introduce mindful eating into your life by consuming food without distractions (such as the television), sitting down to eat instead of eating on the go, and focusing on your senses of taste and smell. As time passes, you may find it easier to appreciate flavours without added salt or sugar, and the point at which your body tells you that it has had enough food may come sooner during a meal.
4. Improve your health knowledge
With the right knowledge, you can make more empowered decisions about your health and wellbeing. There are many books, videos, podcasts and programmes covering all areas of health, but it’s important to consume information from trusted sources in order to better inform your decision making.
If you are interested in learning more about your hormone health, It’s Not My Head, It’s My Hormones by Dr Marion Gluck, founder of the Marion Gluck Clinic, is an excellent place to start. There are also many helpful articles, including hormone balancing recipes, on our blog.
5. Commit to regularly moving your body
Exercise is an important form of self-care and physical healthcare that is often neglected due to lack of time. However, while some people believe that their only options are to attend a class or go to the gym, there are in fact many ways to get your body moving – and you don’t even have to leave your home.
If you are strapped for time, here are some forms of exercise that you can do in your own home in the space of just 15 minutes:
- Tai Chi
- Mat pilates
- HIIT/circuit workouts
- Resistance training using weights or bands
To improve or maintain your health, you should be purposefully moving your body for around half an hour, three to five times per week. By committing to exercising regularly, you can improve your fitness and, over time, working out will feel like less of a chore and more like self-care.
Learn more about how exercise affects your hormones.
Self-Care And Symptom Recognition
Self-care is key to maintaining your health and wellness, but it is crucial to remember that it is not a cure for disease or illness. By regularly caring for our bodies and minds, we can begin to recognise what is normal and healthy in ourselves; however, it is important to seek the opinion of a medical professional after spotting something that feels or looks abnormal.
For those with hormonal issues, these might be symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, irregular periods, hot flushes and more. If you’re affected by any of these symptoms, you may wish to speak to one of our hormone specialists. Use the button below to book an appointment today (and tick that off your to-do list)!