Written by: Sue Fuller-Good (MSc Physio WITS) Physiotherapist with a special interest in the mind-body connection
What is self-care:
Self-care is a multidimensional, multifactorial process of conscious action taking to promote healthy functioning and enhance physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Why is self-care important?
Self-care is important because if we don’t take proper care of ourselves, we will lose our state of wellbeing.
In years gone by there were many rejuvenating activities that offered us the chance to rest and relax. We did the dishes by hand, we washed the car, we chopped the veggies. Nowadays we are always connected, always available and all the relaxing jobs are done for us by technology. So we never get any down time. We land up working all the time and self-care becomes a vital component of staying well.
As I went for my early morning run a few months ago in the cool, grey morning, I felt so alive and grateful. It gave me cause to muse on the gifts of last year, one of them being a time when I didn’t feel quite so vital and when I was forced to feel how everything is in flux and nothing lasts forever, not the great times nor the bad times. I wanted to share my observations and hear your thoughts from your own existence, so here goes….
Learnings from a bee sting on the hand in January 2021.
1. I am very allergic to bee stings and my hand and arm swelled like a balloon and was excruciatingly painful. This led to a slow day on Friday in which I did only the bare minimum and a Saturday in which I scarcely moved, except to take more drugs. This may sound like a bad thing, until you remember that rest is part of health. Sometimes laying low and being still is just what we need to revitalize us.
2. Drugs have a place in health. My friend and colleague from the My Sexual Health Team Larisse Badenhorst who is one of the most caring and brilliant specialist GP’s I have ever met, sent me an urgent script and the cortisone started working it's magic. I’m a firm naturalist and hardly ever take medication, but in certain circumstances, drugs are a vital component of the treatment and we need them to help us heal. What a blessing to be able to gain access to what I needed! I mindfully acknowledged the magical powers of the drugs as I took them, giving myself full permission to let them help my body recover.
3. Kindness and care heal. The incredible support and empathy I received from my family and my beloved carried me out of the turbulence of the thankfully short-lived response.
4. On Sunday, I felt a bit better and tried to take a gentle jog, my body said: “NO!”, a stroll was all that was possible, but the body is a healing machine and its natural state is health and vibrancy and so it didn’t take long to get moving again and for my energy to return. We can't use force and sheer determination when we work with our bodies, we need to use wisdom and we must listen carefully. We need to work as a team-mate with our body in order to get the best out of it, not operate as a dictator or controlling slave master.
5. One of the best ways to get more wellbeing is to sleep more. Sleep has the power to heal in an incredible way. If you haven’t yet read Matthew Walker’s book, “Why We Sleep”, do yourself a favour and get it and read it. The very worst thing we can do to ourselves is to deprive ourselves of enough sleep. Sleep, as the latest research shows us, is vital for every part of our mental, physical and emotional health. It is literally catastrophic to be sleeping too little. When we are not well, we need even more sleep, and so much healing occurs while we sleep. How simple a solution is that!?
As we face the return to “normal” of the post COVID world and the war in the Ukraine which shows no sign of abating and record inflation and economic pressure in all the markets, maybe some of these learnings are useful. None of us know what’s coming next, it could be a cyclone, a flood, a disease, a death, or economic hardship and unemployment. By the same token, it could be a multitude of wonderful things too, we just don’t know. We can, however, encourage ourselves to take care of ourselves carefully.
1. We can rest enough and relax consciously.
2. Sleep enough.
3. Take medication if we need to and allow that medication to work magic on our bodies or minds. If we are lucky enough to be able to afford it, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Zinc, Quercetin (to help uptake the Zinc), Magnesium and probiotics and prebiotics are worth taking to keep the body in its best state to fight any potential infection.
4. We can work with our bodies, not using force, but listening carefully to our body voice.
5. We can take special care to make time and space for being kind and offering care to our loved ones and our fellow human beings. We can be super kind and caring to ourselves too.
Compassion is key! And hopefulness too. Nothing lasts forever and floods follow droughts and droughts follow floods. Its always changing, so relax and ride the waves.