Self Care

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Kol Drake created the topic: Self Care

I posted this in a journal and Jax suggested it be placed here as well.

What Is “Self Care”?

Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health.

Good self care is a challenge for many people. Self care is unique for everyone. Below are some ideas to get you started in developing your own self care plan. It can be overwhelming to consider taking on many new things. It may be helpful to start with a couple of ideas and build on that.

Physical self-care is an area that people often overlook.

As I noted for Stormy -- she does most of these already but, there will be times when the weather is krappy and one is not feeling in tiptop shape and .. we can forget this stuff so -- me being Captain Obvious. (again)

Food
• Food is a type of self-care that people often overlook. People are often so busy that they don’t have time to eat regularly or that they substitute fast food for regular meals.
• It’s not always reasonable to expect people to get 3 square meals a day (plus snacks!) but everyone should make sure they get adequate nutrition.
• One example of a self care goal: Even if it’s a small amount, I will eat something for each meal.

Exercise
• Exercise is one of the most overlooked types of self-care. The CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.
• Exercise, even if it’s just a quick walk at lunchtime, can help combat feelings of sadness or depression and prevent chronic health problems.
• One example of a self care goal: I will go for a walk Tuesday and Thursday after I get out of my morning class.

Sleep
• Although everyone has different needs, a reasonable guideline is that most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep per night.
• One example of a self care goal: I will go to bed by 11:00 p.m. during the week so that I can get enough sleep.

Medical care
• Getting medical attention when you need it is an important form of physical self-care.
• Some put off getting medical care until problems that might have been relatively easy to take care of have become more complicated.
• One example of a self care goal: I will set aside money in my budget (or seek financial help) so that I can get my prescriptions filled every month.

Emotional self-care will mean different things for different people. It might mean:

Counseling
• This could mean seeing a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or therapist.

Keeping a journal
• Recording their thoughts and feelings in a journal or diary helps them manage their emotions after a bad incident / day.
• One example of a self care goal: I will write in my journal at least 3 times this week.

Meditation or relaxation exercises
• Relaxation techniques or meditation help many folks with their emotional self-care.
• One example of a self care goal: I will practice deep breathing before I go to sleep to calm down from the day.

Emotional self-care can also involve the people around you.

It’s important to make sure that the people in your life are supportive
• Nurture relationships with people that make you feel good about yourself!
• Make spending time with friends and family a priority
• If you have trouble finding people who can support you, consider joining a support group

Be wary of…
• Friends or family who only call when they need something
• People who always leave you feeling tired or depressed when you see them
• Friends who never have the time to listen to you
• Anyone who dismisses or belittles your experience as a survivor

You can deal with these people by setting limits.

• You don’t have to cut them out of your life (especially with family, that may not even be an option!) but choose the time you will spend with them carefully.
• Make sure that your time with these people has a clear end.
• Cut back on the time you spend with people who don’t make you feel good, or spend time with them in a group rather than one-on-one.

Screen your calls!!
• There’s no rule that says you have to answer your phone every time it rings. If you don’t feel like talking on the phone, call people back at a time that’s more convenient for you.

You can deal with these people by letting some go.
• If there are people in your life who consistently make you feel bad about yourself, consider letting those friendships or relationships go.
• This can be a difficult decision. Remember that you deserve to have people around you who genuinely care about you and who support you.

Another challenge can be in finding time for fun leisure activities

Many of us have full time jobs, go to school, volunteer and have families.
Finding time to do activities that you enjoy is an important aspect of self-care.

Be aware of things you may be doing that take up a lot of your time but don’t support your self care such as too much time on the internet, watching TV, even sleeping. These can all be relaxing, enjoyable activities in moderation but can become a way of retreating and isolating yourself.

Get involved in a sport or hobby that you love!!
Find other people who are doing the same thing! Knowing that people are counting on you to show up can help motivate you. Plus, there is fun in having someone who shares your interests -- writing, feline overlords, wearing old brown robes while swinging a broomstick about.


Treat leisure appointments as seriously as business appointments. If you have plans to do something for fun, mark it on your calendar!
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Self Care

The Importance of Self Care by Laura Tirello for psychcentral.com

We hear often in the self-help world how important self-care is. However, we don’t do it enough, and it’s because we don’t know how. I think we have a perception that there’s a right way to do self-care.

I laughed inside when my client thanked me for not telling her to do yoga and pilates. That’s the funny thing about self-care; you don’t have to do anything. I notice a lot of people putting self-care into their routine as a forced thing. Then they feel tired out from it, and forget the fun stuff.

The interesting thing is that self-care is the fun stuff. My definition of self-care is letting yourself do whatever you want to do. If yoga, meditating, or writing endlessly in your journal about your woes isn’t your thing, don’t do it. It won’t work.

Self-care only works when you listen to your body, and do what you want without resistance. For me, I’ve learned to do what I want to do in the moment. So if I randomly feel like reading a few pages of a fictional novel or walking my dog, I do it. I don’t push it aside or promise myself I’ll do it later, I do it right then.

Why? Because in that moment my body is telling me it needs a break. My mind is probably overwhelmed with thoughts, and trying to do work at that moment would be highly unproductive. And when I do what I want in the moment, when I sit down to work, everything gets done in a much easier way. Because now I’m relaxed, I’m not resisting anything. My mind is free to produce what it really wants, and my body feels good.

To me, that is self-care.

I’m pretty certain you’re thinking: oh, well she works for herself, so she can do that. Well, you can do it too. It doesn’t matter where you are, and it takes a small amount of time.

When I was working in a 9 to 5 situation, I would take several moments in the day just to step away and feel good. I didn’t even have to leave the office. I would look at pictures I enjoyed for a moment (literally sixty seconds). At lunch, I would read the blog or books of people I admired and resonated with. Occasionally, I would even take a short walk during lunch.

I attribute those small moments as keeping my energy and inspiration up so I could explore new things outside of work later in the day.

I have many clients who have high stress, can’t stop for a minute jobs. I tell them they need that 60 second break here and there. First they resist, but when they try it, they are wowed by it.

They’re wowed by it because not only do they feel less stress, but also their body feels better. When you don’t take the time to check into your body, you don’t notice that your body may be starting to flare up with pain or stress. Taking a moment to check in, and 60 seconds to do something that feels good to your body is a great way to keep your body in a natural flow. Allowing yourself these moments also gives you a sense of freedom, which produces a better emotional and mental state.

Start by giving yourself a 60 second break three times a day. I know you’ll see a difference.
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Johannes (Yoshio) replied the topic: Self Care

For sure this is a good advice itself, the only problem I see with it is, that it starts from a point of where she assumes that people feel stressed because they are overworked. But, as I had to go through this myself, how about those who are facing a boreout syndrome? For those people it is not the problem of having no time to sit back and look at photos or read something, unfortunately they have the exact opposite problem and to overcome this without an external help which makes them feel involved and needed in the daily work schedule is hard if not impossible to achieve.
This shall not say that I’m not in full agreement on what she says, I just would like to see people being aware of that that there is maybe also a literally other side of the coin as well.

Qui-Gon Jinn: "We cannot control our emotions, but we can decide how we go along with them."
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Self Care

You are correct -- stress can arise from any number of circumstances and the article only addressed one avenue. Still stress is stress and it can do some real damage to the body -- after all, although stress is a 'function' the body does to respond to certain things (danger, etc.) it was never supposed to be triggered 24/7. Here are a few of the things stress can 'do' to a body when it is running 'overtime' on the human body.

Musculoskeletal System
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body's way of guarding against injury and pain.

With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders. For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head.

Millions of individuals suffer from chronic painful conditions secondary to musculoskeletal disorders. Often, but not always, there may be an injury that sets off the chronic painful state. What determines whether or not an injured person goes on to suffer from chronic pain is how they respond to the injury. Individuals who are fearful of pain and re-injury, and who seek only a physical cause and cure for the injury, generally have a worse recovery than individuals who maintain a certain level of moderate, physician-supervised activity. Muscle tension, and eventually, muscle atrophy due to disuse of the body, all promote chronic, stress-related musculoskeletal conditions.

Relaxation techniques have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Self Care

Respiratory System
Stress can make you breathe harder. That's not a problem for most people, but for those with asthma or a lung disease such as emphysema, getting the oxygen you need to breathe easier can be difficult.

And some studies show that an acute stress — such as the death of a loved one — can actually trigger asthma attacks, in which the airway between the nose and the lungs constricts.

In addition, stress can cause the rapid breathing — or hyperventilation — that can bring on a panic attack in someone prone to panic attacks.

Working with a psychologist to develop relaxation and breathing strategies can help.


Cardiovascular
The heart and blood vessels comprise the two elements of the cardiovascular system that work together in providing nourishment and oxygen to the organs of the body. The activity of these two elements is also coordinated in the body's response to stress.

Acute stress — stress that is momentary or short-term such as meeting deadlines, being stuck in traffic or suddenly slamming on the brakes to avoid an accident — causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle, with the stress hormones — adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol — acting as messengers for these effects. In addition, the blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscles and the heart dilate, thereby increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body and elevating blood pressure. This is also known as the fight or flight response. Once the acute stress episode has passed, the body returns to its normal state.

Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure, can take a toll on the body. This long-term ongoing stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.

Repeated acute stress and persistent chronic stress may also contribute to inflammation in the circulatory system, particularly in the coronary arteries, and this is one pathway that is thought to tie stress to heart attack. It also appears that how a person responds to stress can affect cholesterol levels.

The risk for heart disease associated with stress appears to differ for women, depending on whether the woman is pre- or post-menopausal. Levels of estrogen in pre-menopausal women appears to help blood vessels respond better during stress, thereby helping their bodies to better handle stress and protecting them against heart disease. Postmenopausal women lose this level of protection due to loss of estrogen, therefore putting them at greater risk for the effects of stress on heart disease.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Self Care

Endocrine
When the body is stressed, the hypothalamus signals the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland and the process is started to produce epinephrine and cortisol, sometimes called the "stress hormones."

Adrenal Glands (near kidneys)
Stress signals from the hypothalamus cause the adrenal cortex to produce cortisol and the adrenal medulla to produce epinephrine. This starts the process that gives your body the energy to run from danger.

Liver
When cortisol and epinephrine are released, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that would give you the energy for "fight or flight" in an emergency.

For most of you, if you don't use all of that extra energy, the body is able to reabsorb the blood sugar, even if you're stressed again and again. But for some people — especially people vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes — that extra blood sugar can mean diabetes. Who's vulnerable? The obese and races more inclined to diabetes, such as Native Americans.

Studies show that if you learn how to manage stress, you can control your blood sugar level, sometimes nearly as much as with medication.

Gastrointestinal > Esophagus
When you're stressed, you may eat much more or much less than you usually do. If you eat more or different foods, or increase your use of alcohol or tobacco, you can experience heartburn or acid reflux. Stress or exhaustion can also increase the severity of heartburn pain.

Gastrointestinal > Stomach
When you're stressed, your brain becomes more alert to sensations in your stomach. Your stomach can react with "butterflies" or even nausea or pain. You may vomit if the stress is severe enough. And, if the stress becomes chronic, you may develop ulcers or severe stomach pain even without ulcers.

Gastrointestinal > Bowel
Stress can affect digestion, and what nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how fast food moves through your body. You may find that you have either diarrhea or constipation.

Nervous System
The nervous system has several divisions: the central division involving the brain and spinal cord and the peripheral division consisting of the autonomic and somatic nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) has a direct role in physical response to stress and is divided into the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

When the body is stressed, the SNS generates what is known as the "fight or flight" response. The body shifts all of its energy resources toward fighting off a life threat, or fleeing from an enemy. The SNS signals the adrenal glands to release hormones called adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones cause the heart to beat faster, respiration rate to increase, blood vessels in the arms and legs to dilate, digestive process to change and glucose levels (sugar energy) in the bloodstream to increase to deal with the emergency.

The SNS response is fairly sudden in order to prepare the body to respond to an emergency situation or acute stress, short term stressors. Once the crisis is over, the body usually returns to the pre-emergency, unstressed state.

Chronic stress, experiencing stressors over a prolonged period of time, can result in a long-term drain on the body. As the SNS continues to trigger physical reactions, it causes a wear-and-tear on the body. It's not so much what chronic stress does to the nervous system, but what continuous activation of the nervous system does to other bodily systems that become problematic.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Self Care

Male Reproductive System
The male reproductive system is influenced by the nervous system. The parasympathetic part of the nervous system causes relaxation whereas the sympathetic part causes arousal. In the male anatomy, the autonomic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight response, produces testosterone and activates the sympathetic nervous system which creates arousal.

Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is important to blood pressure regulation and the normal functioning of several body systems including cardiovascular, circulatory and male reproduction. Excess amounts of cortisol can affect the normal biochemical functioning of the male reproductive system.
Chronic stress, ongoing stress over an extended period of time, can affect testosterone production, sperm production and maturation, and even cause erectile dysfunction or impotence.

Also, when stress affects the immune system, the body can become vulnerable to infection. In the male anatomy, infections to the testes, prostate gland and urethra, can affect normal male reproductive functioning.


Female Reproductive System
Menstruation
Stress may affect menstruation among adolescent girls and women in several ways. For example, high levels of stress may be associated with absent or irregular menstrual cycles, more painful periods and changes in the length of cycles.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Stress may make premenstrual symptoms worse or more difficult to cope with and pre-menses symptoms may be stressful for many women. These symptoms include cramping, fluid retention and bloating, negative mood (feeling irritable and "blue") and mood swings.

Menopause
As menopause approaches, hormone levels fluctuate rapidly. These changes are associated with anxiety, mood swings and feelings of distress. Thus menopause can be a stressor in and of itself. Some of the physical changes associated with menopause, especially hot flashes, can be difficult to cope with. Furthermore, emotional distress may cause the physical symptoms to be worse. For example, women who are more anxious may experience an increased number of hot flashes and/or more severe or intense hot flashes.

Sexual Desire
Women juggle personal, family, professional, financial and a broad range of other demands across their life span. Stress, distraction, fatigue, etc., may reduce sexual desire — especially when women are simultaneously caring for young children or other ill family members, coping with chronic medical problems, feeling depressed, experiencing relationship difficulties or abuse, dealing with work problems, etc.

*******

So, it is easy to see that having continued, long term stress in your life can wreck havok on your body -- which can, in turn, mess with your state of mind and overall condition. So much for balance!

Taking time to care for self then become critical for your health and well-being. Not 'just' for being a Jedi but for being a fully, HEALTHY functioning human being.

Heck... this should be a double whammy post -- here and under 'Health'. :unsure:
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Jax replied the topic: Self Care

This is an eternal topic that I want to 'bump' so more people see it. Feel free to add your own thoughts and tips.
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