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Home  |  Blog  |  Detail  |  SELF CARE FOR HEALTH

Self Care For Health

By: Valerie Fung-A-Ling

  • Tuesday, May 19, 2020
  • 5 Minute Read   

Educators and parents can model and teach self-care skills.

Self-care is the practice of taking care of your health so that you can be at your best for yourself and others. It is a core component to the health and well-being of adults and children, especially during times of stress and adversity.  More health care and wellness experts are offering guidance on self-care strategies as a tool to increase personal health resilience.

The Surgeon General of California recommends practicing six self-care strategies. These strategies can be applied routinely every day to help support physical, mental and emotional health. Try one of these and add others over time as you are able and time allows.

  • Supportive relationships: Maintain supportive relationships, connecting with friends and family by calling, meeting through online video apps and writing notes of appreciation.
  • Exercise: Engage in 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Start small with just five minutes of movement like walking and add more activity as you are able and time allows.  
  • Sleep: Sufficient high-quality sleep aids mental and physical health. Set a bedtime routine like shutting off all electronics at a set time, relaxation techniques like stretching and meditating, and sleeping in a cool, dark room.
  • Nutrition: Fuel your body with a balanced eating pattern that includes a variety of healthful foods from all the food groups, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean protein.  Drink plenty of water for hydration.
  • Mental health support: Ask for help if you are feeling sad, lonely and anxious. Many free and low-cost resources are available to assist when these feelings arise and persist. Resources are available here.
  • Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness in whatever way works best for you: meditation, yoga, prayer. Start with 10 minutes a day and work up to 20 minutes, two times a day.

Teaching self-care to children

Children’s developing brains and bodies are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of stress. Very often, children are not able to recognize or express their feelings and emotions. Learning and practicing self-care skills can support students’ health and help them learn and develop optimally.

Educators and parents can model and teach self-care skills to help children learn to manage and cope with challenging situations and succeed in school and beyond. Here are three self-care activities that educators and parents can use to empower children to strengthen their physical, mental and emotional health:

  1. Eat healthfully since good nutrition is one of the most important elements to self-care. What, when and how much students eat can support and affect how they feel and face life’s challenges every day.  Nutrition education provides valuable opportunities for students to learn and practice healthy eating habits that they can carry into adulthood.
  2. Eat mindfully to connect physical, emotional and mental well-being and increase awareness of feelings and the social and environmental factors influencing eating habits. Students can practice mindful eating by reflecting on the food or meal before eating, thinking about how and where the food came from, offering gratitude for the food and eating slowly to enjoy it. Mindful eating is a practice that children and adults can do at home, school or work.
  3. Practice empathy and acknowledge a diversity of emotions to help students identify and understand different feelings in themselves and others. Journaling or having group discussions about a certain topic or experience can support the processing of emotions.

Taking small, but consistent, steps every day is a great way to begin self-care. Over time, practicing self-care strategies and teaching children to do the same will enable you to take good care of yourself and others.

 

References

California’s Surgeon General’s Playbook: Stress Relief During COVID-19. Available on California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response website. https://covid19.ca.gov/img/wp/california-surgeon-general_stress-busting-playbook_draft-v2clean_ada-04072020.pdf. Accessed May 14, 2020
Casel cares: SEL resources during COVID-19. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning website. https://casel.org/. Accessed May 14, 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19). Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. https://www.eatright.org/coronavirus. Accessed May 14, 2020.
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture. Washington, DC: US Dept of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service; 2015. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/. Updated January 30, 2020. Accessed May 14, 2020.
Why teacher self-care matters and how to practice self-care in your school. Waterford.org website. https://www.waterford.org/education/teacher-self-care-activities/. Accessed May 14, 2020
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Valerie Fung-A-Ling

Valerie Fung-A-Ling

Valerie, Project Manager of Nutrition Education, has more than 30 years of nutrition education expertise.

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