Written by Rachel Dong
4 min read
Amidst this pandemic and quarantine, it’s natural to feel more stressed-out, anxious, or generally unwell than usual. In this way, International Self-Care Day this year comes at the perfect time. Whether you’re working from home or find yourself on the front lines, take some time to breathe and practice effective self-care this July 24th.
First, some background on International Self-Care Day. Established in 2011, it is an international commemorative day that has since been celebrated in a myriad of countries, such as Bangladesh, Canada, China, Iran, Kenya, Mexico,South Korea, Switzerland, Tanzania, the U.S., and Vietnam. The day allows for a media-friendly forum to raise awareness about self-care and mental health through encouraging people and communities alike to reflect on how they have been showing kindness to themselves. Why July 24th? The International Self-Care Federation wanted to stress that the benefits of practicing self-care are felt for a lifetime – 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Previous activities organized by communities and local governments have included mob flash dances, concerts, public walks, and tai chi classes. It’s likely not many similar campaigns will be happening this year, in light of the social distancing guidelines countries are observing. However, this simply provides the opportunity for individual reflection and celebration. Take a look at the International Self-Care Foundation’s 7 pillars of self-care, explained below, and note how you can incorporate their advice into your lifestyle.
1) Knowledge & health literacy
The International Self-Care Foundation stresses that knowledge about health, disease, and self-care is the first step to better health and wellbeing. They define health literacy as understanding and following instructions given by health professionals, as well as having the motivation to independently seek out information to improve health and lifestyle. Just by reading this blog, you’re showing a great sense of health literacy!
2) Mental wellbeing, self-awareness, & agency
This pillar stresses applying the knowledge gleaned from reading and discussing health to your own situation. It includes knowing important information about your body through regular health screenings— Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels, and more. To engage values of mental wellbeing, self-awareness, and agency, make sure to have a sound understanding of your health and how to improve and/or maintain it.
3) Physical activity
Physical activity is a fundamental part of a healthy lifestyle. This pillar emphasizes the mental and physical benefits from engaging in regular physical exercise, from improved fitness and endurance to a boosted mood and mental state.
4) Healthy eating
Another basic aspect of a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating means a nutritious, balanced, diet, with a suitable amount of caloric intake for your body. A healthy diet reduces risk for many diseases and even contributes to improved mood. In this manner, eating healthy is key to self-care. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a cheat day every once in a while… but make sure you’re mentally keeping track of your eating habits and treating your body right.
5) Risk avoidance or mitigation
This pillar refers to the avoiding or reduction of unhealthy habits such as alcohol and smoking, as well as taking measures whenever possible to mitigate risk, such as wearing a seatbelt when driving or sunscreen to the beach. These are often some of the most achievable self-care practices, and also the most directly beneficial to your health.
6) Good hygiene
Hygiene is crucial to both your actual physical health and your sense of mental wellbeing. Showering, washing your hands and food, and brushing your teeth are all activities to be doing daily, to maintain cleanliness and help prevent disease (especially while COVID-19 is still prevalent in many spots).
7) Rational & responsible use of products/services
This last pillar refers to the responsible consumption of prescriptive and non-prescriptive medicines, as well as wellness and health services (such as the gym). Products should be used in a cognizant manner, to manage one’s health wholesomely.
Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas about how to practice self-care this International Self-Care Day! Self-care doesn’t have to be drastic, but the key is maintaining the momentum to make a lasting change in your life.
International Self-Care Day is rapidly gaining traction; the International Self-Care Foundation hopes it will one day be recognized by the United Nations as an official commemorative day. In 2019, the day was recognized by the World Health Foundation (WHO) through the announcement of “Self-care Month”, lasting from June 24th to July 24th. Furthermore, last year on the International Self-Care Day, the hashtag #iselfcare gained 4.4 million uses on Twitter and Instagram!
This July 24th, show us how you self-care through using #iselfcare on social media, or by commenting down below. Happy International Self-Care Day!