MIAW 2019 - Self Care Day 1: Physical self care

Good morning! (Or afternoon, evening, night...whenever you're reading this!)

I felt that for Mental Illness Awareness Week it was best to focus on how we can all take care of ourselves - whether you have a mental illness or not. Mental illness can happen to anyone, and taking good mental care of yourself is key to (in some cases) prevention or dealing with symptoms as they arise. Being self aware is so important to knowing what works for you, what works for your symptoms, what works with your life, and knowing what your triggers are, or what your prompts are that tell you that you are starting on a spiral.

The Mental Health Self Care Wheel is broken into 6 main categories: Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Personal and Professional. No part of the wheel is more important than the other - or else you no longer have a perfectly circular wheel. Different times of your life will require you to focus on one section a little hard than others as the self care may not come as easily - but dropping self care in one area will affect your mental health, which will result in the other categories falling to the wayside as well.

The first category I would like to delve into is Physical. I think sometimes the Physical aspect of self care is the easiest to understand, and also the easiest to see and most socially accepted as self care.

Examples for Physical self care include: regular medical care, eating healthy, exercise, getting a massage, physical intimacy (touch) like holding hands or hugging. Personally, I find that while Physical self care may be the easiest to understand and easiest to see, it is one of the hardest (for me) to execute. Let's be honest - junk tastes so good, and is generally ready-to-eat (no preparation required!). And when I think of making time for exercise vs watching TV, well....TV always wins. Especially when I'm in the grips of a bout of depression.

However - I know how much better I feel when I do eat healthy, and when I do exercise. For myself, my favourite forms of exercise are hikes out on the trails in Sprucewoods Provincial Park and yoga. I find both to be so grounding, which is something I generally need. My head is always so far up in the clouds that I need something to bring me back down. Hiking and yoga both require me to focus on the ground, on my feet...keeping my balance, feeling for tree roots and dips in the trail. And nature is an amazing drug. Sunshine, grass, animals, trees, clouds, a breeze...when you're in all that and away from modern society it's calming and freeing. For some people, outdoors or the slow pace of yoga may not be their thing. Maybe it's running, boxing, weight lifting. It doesn't matter as long as you're moving your body. There is so much scientific evidence backing exercise as a prescription for mental health self care. It makes your body healthier, and with your body healthier and running better you'll inevitable feel better. And there's the endorphins. The feel good hormone. 'Nough said.

There's also the factor of human contact. It's proven that when you are in physical contact with someone you care about, the brain releases Oxytocin, which is the "cuddle" or "love" hormone, and also known as the bonding hormone. Daily human contact, whether it's holding hands, cuddling, a hug, is very important for feeling good.

So, what do you do for Physical self care? Or do you do anything? Is this an area that you need to work on? None of us are perfect - but picking one thing to start with is the first step.

So let's make it a challenge. Today, I challenge you to pick one thing that falls under Physical self care to practice for the rest of MIAW and see how you feel.

Sign up by selecting the drop down in the top right corner and comment below how you practice Physical self care, and what you will be doing for today's challenge.

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