How do you take care of and nurture your physical body?
The many ways that you live, move and breathe on any given day can make not only the difference in the quality of life that you lead, but your longevity as well.
According to a review of literature on the topic of physical activity and longevity/ life expectancy in the National Library of Medicine, “Physical activity reduces many major mortality risk factors including arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2, dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. All-cause mortality is decreased by about 30% to 35% in physically active as compared to inactive subjects.”
Now, this is not to say that physical activity has to look any particular way. The cited review did not find conclusive evidence that high-intensity sports activities further increased life expectancy. So rather than focusing on the forms of movement or physical activity, consider first the amount and consistency that you sustain over a day, a week or a month and determine whether that is in harmony with your goals for overall well-being. You may find that there is room to introduce novel experiences that center around quality, consistent ways of living, moving and breathing that are fun, engaging and feel good to you.
Remember to look at self care as multidimensional; take an opportunity to study closely the forms and methods you choose to practice self-care over time. Taking all 4 dimensions of self care into account, you create a well-rounded holistic approach to look after yourself as a WHOLE being, whether it’s to fill in the gaps or to simply create better harmony within you. Be conscious to not miss or skip over an aspect or dimension that needs/ wants your compassion, love, and attention.
Maybe you tell yourself that you “hate to exercise” because you associate it with activities that are painful, too difficult or not fun. If that’s the case, can you discover movement-centered activities that do not elicit pain, that are in your current wheelhouse, and that are maybe kind of fun?
Perhaps you tell yourself that you don’t belong in that yoga class, that cycling group or that breathwork workshop, or maybe you don’t have access to these things in your immediate community. If so, can you find beginner classes nearby and go with a friend, or find classes or teachers online/ on social media that resonate with you or are adaptive to your needs, or can you spearhead forming your own group of people interested in trying an activity with you.
Read on for some simple ways to infuse your body with self care. You may be surprised by all of the healthful ways you already move through life, or you may pick up a gem or two that can round out your practices and make you feel vibrant and connected to your body.
- Connecting with Living as Self Care
Eat colorful, fresh foods when you have the chance, but also be kind to yourself when you don’t or can’t. How you ingest food, the thoughts you have when you do, matter. Consider decluttering your home and office so that you have a feeling of spaciousness and manageability (bonus: organizing IS physical activity!). Take time away from computers, TV, and your smartphone with a digital detox. Spend 5 minutes or 5 hours a day, or challenge yourself to 5 whole days without screens and see what happens. And enjoy moments to rest and replenish. Rest is just as important as movement for healing and maintaining your physical health.
- Connecting with Movement as Self Care
Remember, movement does not need to be prescribed exercise. Move through nature, dance freely and without judgment to your favorite music, volunteer with people younger than you or a little more active than you to challenge yourself in a safe and engaging way. Even when sitting for longer periods of time you have the opportunity to explore more subtle movement with stretching and repositioning frequently.
- Connecting with Breath as Self Care
Breathing is a profound way to nurture your physical well-being. Luckily, breathing is not something that you have to think about doing. However, when you integrate a practice of breathing consciously and deliberately, you improve and even optimize the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body, which is crucial for tissue and metabolic health. Learning particular breathwork strategies can also become a tool which helps you to regulate bodily sensations to better manage pain, anxiety and any other discomfort. Simply said, breathing is an anchor that helps you remember that your soul has its home. 🙂
PAUSE & REFLECT: WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY DOING FOR YOUR PHYSICAL SELF-CARE? ARE YOU HONORING AND NURTURING YOUR BODY IN CONSISTENT, LOVING WAYS, EVERY DAY?
Resources: https://ca.ctrinstitute.com/blog/4-key-dimensions-self-care/; and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395188/
Written by Cari Rogers, co-owner of Tribe and founder of HealThySelf. Cari loves to partner with people who believe that the body has an incredible capacity to heal under the right circumstances and with the right support.