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July Article

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International Self Care Day

International Self Care Day

International Self Care Day is established in 2011 by the International Self-Care Foundation (ISCF). The goal is to raise public awareness of the importance of self-care and empowering people with the knowledge and ability on how to be active participants in their own wellness.  The upcoming International Self Care Day is on July 24, 2021.


As we all know, for the past 16 months, we have been living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical distancing, isolating from our loved ones, changing patterns of schooling, facing anti-Asian discrimination, social distancing, unemployment… have been affecting our mental health.  According to the Mental Health Research Canada, anxiety levels have quadrupled and depression levels have doubled since the COVID-19 outbreak. The recent survey done in May 2021 showed that 28% of Canadians indicating high levels of anxiety and 17% indicating high level of depression. The number of Canadians accessing mental health services increased, with 11% accessing services in the year before COVID-19, compared to 18% accessing services in the year since the pandemic started. Hence, practicing self-care is essential for us to cope with changes not only during the pandemic, but also after the pandemic.


In the past, ‘Self Care’ often referred to having a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise to maintain our physical health. But nowadays, this term defines more than just our physical health, but also our mental health and well-being.


The objective of self-care is simply to maintain an optimal level of our overall health. Engaging ourselves in different self-care activities to achieve four dimensions of health.


1.    Physical health

This relates to our body where healthy diet, living environment and healthy lifestyle are focused.

  • Eating a diet consisting mostly of greens and fruits, and avoiding food that are processed or high in refined sugar is important. Food that are processed or high in refined sugar increase inflammation in the body, which linked to chronic illness, such as heart disease and cancer. In addition, regular daily meals and balance nutrition are beneficial to our health.

  • Decluttering (means putting things back to where they belong) your home or office sometimes helps to get yourself refresh and reclaim a sense of mastery and control. Some people, when feel stressful, loves to clean their desk, kitchen or bathroom to de-stress themselves.

  • Healthy lifestyle includes engaging yourself in exercising (research indicates exercised 2-8 hours per week reduced the risk of dying by 29-36 percent), getting yourself outdoor (research shows spending time outdoor, especially in green space is associated with a lower mortality rate), and having enough sleep (optimum sleep, where 7-8 hours per night, is important, too little or too much are not healthy either).


2.     Emotional health

This relates to our heart where we focus on love and being loved, care and being cared and be in relationship with ourselves and others. Sometimes, we are too harsh on ourselves. We criticize ourselves endlessly and forgot to gracefully accept others’ kindness and praise to us. We spent our time helping others but forgot to save some time for ourselves. We take care of others as caregivers but forgot to treat ourselves nicely.

Some ways to take care of our emotional health:

  • Setting up emotional boundary of saying no within helping relationships. Assertive is not a negative term. It is finding the right balance between passivity and aggression, the quality of being self-assured but at the same time respecting others’ needs and thoughts

  • Identify a few positive and inspiring messages and quotes for yourself

  • Gracefully accept praise, love and support from others

  • Be kind to yourself especially when you are suffering or in pain

  • Forgive, accept and love yourself when things are not going perfect


3.     Psychological health

This relates to our mind where we focus on our own self and professional development. We learn, think and grow through it.

Some ways to take care of our psychological health:

  • Cultivate self-awareness: Self awareness is not only to understand our own feeling, but also be mindful of our thoughts, vulnerabilities, strengths and values. To achieve self awareness, it is important to practice self reflection

  • Take time for yourself to reflect: Looking at ourselves in an honest way is the first step, willing to accept that we are not perfect, acknowledging our weaknesses, and looking forward in a positive way is the path to self reflection

  • Read a book that you enjoy

  • Learn a new skill that can be totally different from your ‘normal’

  • Attend coaching group that provide opportunity to grow and learn


4.     Spiritual health

This relates to our spirit where we focus on our purpose, meaning, and connection to others and nature. As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs indicated, self-actualization is a growth needs that leads to the realization of one’s full potential. Accomplishing self-actualization can lead us to find meaning and purpose in our life.

Some ways to take care of our spiritual health:

  • Learn and practice some creative activities (such as art, music)

  • Spend time in the nature

  • Practice gratitude, even with very small thing

  • Meditation of learning to ‘be in the moment’

  • Practice humility – let go of self-aggrandizing behaviours and thoughts that put ‘me first’, and recognize that everyone has intrinsic value

  • Practice Loving Kindness Meditation where unconditional love for yourself, others and the world are developed


Stress often is the main reason taking the tow to our health.  Optimum Stress can be positive to us, but when stress level exceeds our threshold, it can negatively affect our domains of health mentioned above. Hence, learning how to manage our stress in a constructive way can turn it from negative to positive, which can benefit our daily performance. A well-known Stress Management Program (Changeways) developed by UBC Dr. Randy Paterson is offered here.


Self-care tends to improve our immunity, increase positive thinking, improve intra- and inter-personal relationship, less prone to stress, anxiety and depression. Simple enough, self-care is to be kind to ourselves, it means taking small steps of practice to live a healthy lifestyle everyday, and see ‘the half full cup’ instead of the ‘the half empty cup’.

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