Invest in Yourself: Wellbeing,
Self-Care, and Your Environment
“You are the person who has to live with yourself, so it’s in your best interests to look after your own individual health and wellbeing and not to delegate responsibility to anyone else.”
From April 1st this year, many alternative health treatments will no longer be covered by your private health care insurance. Personally, I believe that this will place a greater burden on western medical resources because the focus of our healthcare system is on targeting disease rather than promoting health, balance and wellness. This emphasises the importance of taking care of our own individual health and wellbeing – which is where the responsibility ultimately belongs.
Sometimes it seems that taking care of ourselves is a luxury we can ill-afford, but we need to be very clear that disease takes its toll on our physical resources and affects our energy, mobility, and stamina, as well as affecting us mentally and emotionally. The real questions we need to ask ourselves is what quality of life are we aiming for, and how can we reach or maintain that level?
Let’s look at 3 key areas of health and well-being that you can influence:
- Rest, Change, and Recharging: In February I went to Sri Lanka and the Maldives for a 2-week holiday. This is the longest continuous break I have had in several years and it was amazingly refreshing. I’ve heard that it takes most people 5-7 days to unwind and 2-3 days to re-engage, which means that if your holiday is only 10 days you don’t have a real opportunity to simply rest and appreciate your holiday. I suspect this is true. I am also convinced that having at least a few days in the middle where you are neither unwinding, nor mentally re-engaging is very important for your overall health and stamina.
Maybe you can’t manage a 2-week trip away, but if you are committed to your own long term health and wellbeing you can set aside quarterly and annual breaks at home where you eliminate routine activities and focus on rest and recharging in whatever way is meaningful for you. I know people who schedule reading days, movie days, hikes, family outings, home renovations, or tourist trips in their own city during these breaks. The point is they are cutting loose from daily routine and connections and choosing to do something different and pleasurable. This has an incredible effect on your overall wellbeing.
- Environment: I’ve been struggling with fairly constant sinus issues for the past 18 months, but within a couple of days of arriving in Sri Lanka they were gone. The humidity worked its magic and it lasted for about a week after I arrived back in Melbourne. Obviously, I’m not going to move to the tropics (although that is sometimes tempting), but I asked myself what I could do to humidify my environment and came up with a couple of ideas: use a humidifier and nasal spray.
I think a good question to ask ourselves regularly: Is there something in my environment that is negatively affecting my physical, mental, or emotional wellbeing? If so, what could I do to change it? Often there are little tweaks we can make to our environment that can have a far greater impact than we expect.
- Self-Care and Restraint: It’s always tempting to go for the quick cure. We often rush to the doctor for an antibiotic and are upset when they don’t have a quick fix for our problem or tell us to wait a few more days and see, but often our body can deal with the problem itself – if we provide the opportunity.
While in Sri Lanka I had a gum infection. We were changing hotels every night and because the water was not safe to drink my teeth-cleaning routine was compromised. I noticed it one day, but it really wasn’t convenient to see a dentist so I decided to keep on going and hope it would go away. Sadly, that night my gum was terribly hot, swollen, and painful, but we were also out in the jungle, miles from any doctor or dentist.
One of my fellow travellers suggested I try rinsing my mouth with hot salty water. Miraculously (it really did feel miraculous) that relieved the pain and swelling. By the time I was back in a city where I could have seen a dentist, the infection had healed up by itself.
Don’t dismiss the ‘traditional home cures’ for many conditions. They often work just as well as antibiotics or other treatments, have fewer side-effects, and strengthen your immune defences.
It’s easy to ignore our own individual health and well-being until we’re really sick or desperate, but it’s very important to remember that your physical, mental, and emotional health are all intertwined and that how you treat yourself today will affect how much you are able to enjoy life in the future.