Treatment is not just about medication. It’s about taking care of yourself as a whole and honoring the parts of life that matter most to you. Stress management, sleep, eating well, movement, relationships, spiritual connection and your physical and emotional surroundings all play a role in your ability to be happy and healthy. That’s where self-care comes in! Self-care is a conscious act you take in order to promote your own physical, mental and emotional health. There are many forms of self-care you can practice. Step 1 is defining what matters most to you in life and step 2 is choosing self-care behaviors that support your ability to do those things.
Here are 3 self-care practices to consider:
- Engage in activities that bring you joy: This is different for everyone. For you, it might be reading. For others, it might be gardening. Think about what activity brings you happiness and energy and incorporate it into your life as often as possible. Here are some common self-care activities many people find joy in: yoga, meditation, coloring, knitting, reading, being in nature, playing an instrument, talking to a loved one.
- Get enough sleep: Without adequate sleep, everything is affected. Your mental clarity, your ability to fight off infection, your appetite and definitely your mood can all change when you don't get enough sleep. Sleeping more can be easier said than done, so if you’re struggling to get enough hours in, consider talking with your doctor or implementing various sleep hygiene tips. These can include reducing cell phone and TV screen time at least 2 hours before bed, making sure your bedroom is pitch black and taking a warm bath or shower before hopping into bed.
- Incorporate mindful awareness into daily tasks: Mindful awareness is the act of purposefully paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Being fully present allows you to relate to the world with greater awareness and makes you conscious of your thoughts and feelings. It allows you to truly identify and understand what’s important to you. The simplest form of mindful awareness is paying attention to your breath. Consider sitting for two minutes and do nothing but breathing. Just pay attention to how it feels to breathe in and out and notice the pauses between breaths. When your mind wanders, be gentle with yourself. If this happens, simply bring your attention back to your breath. You can practice mindful breathing anywhere, anytime, and you might find you notice a change in how you feel and cope with stressful situations.
Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Your self-care plan should be customized to fit your needs and desires. Picking out 1-2 self-care practices to engage in is a great place to start. As you implement these practices, ask yourself: Is this bringing me joy? Is this helping me to feel better? Is this setting me up to be my best self? If the answer is yes, keep practicing! If the answer is no, consider swapping out those practices to try out others.
about the author
Katie joined HealthTree as the Community Director for AML in 2021. She is a registered dietitian who previously worked at the VA hospital in Dallas, Texas where she coached veterans with blood cancer on how to use nutrition to improve their treatment outcomes and minimize cancer-related side effects. Katie is passionate about health education and patient empowerment. In her spare time, she loves to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen, spend time running outdoors and travel to new places.