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The Systemic Dimension of Self-Care

self-care Mar 03, 2020

The 8 Dimensions of Self-Care framework by LivingUpp™ offers a holistic approach to building a balanced, healthy life.  

The Systemic Dimension of Self-Care focuses on how you eat, move and rest. In this dimension, you'll explore your physical health—your habits around eating, exercising and sleeping.

Self-care strategies that support this dimension of your life can help reduce your risks for developing costly chronic diseases, so you're able to do more of the things you love.

Investing in this dimension helps you establish healthier habits that nourish and strengthen your physical well-being.

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Here are a few self-care suggestions to support the systemic dimension:

Create a Healthy Eating Style

We all have a unique set of needs and preferences when it comes to our food choices. Your eating style—what, how much, where and when you eat—is influenced by many factors, such as your personal experiences, beliefs, values, state of health, and flavor preferences.

The good news is, there are countless ways to nourish your body to support good health. What's most important is that you find an eating style that best supports your individual needs and preferences. Despite what many popular diet books and health & fitness influencers would have you believe, there's no such thing as a perfect diet.

More than twenty years of experience as a registered dietitian has shown me that the idea of perfect eating—sometimes called orthorexia—is an illusion that often leads to disordered eating behaviors that do more harm than good. 

Aiming to nourish your body with health-giving foods, and allowing yourself grace when you don't live up to the media's vision of perfection, is a much more balanced and realistic approach to healthy eating.

So, what does a healthy eating style look like? 

In general, healthy diets include a wide variety of plants, animals and fungi that contain essential nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. (I would also add phytochemicals to this list, though they aren't technically nutrients.)

Eating styles that promote good health are generally plant-based, low in animal-based proteins and fats, low in sugar, and high in fiber. The amount of food you need to maintain a healthy body weight and support your unique needs depends on a number of factors. For that reason, individualized nutrient needs are best determined with help from a qualified health professional.

Move Your Body 

According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, most adults need between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week, or roughly 20 to 40 minutes every day. Yet only 23% of Americans are meeting that recommendation.

The health benefits associated with exercise are extensive, ranging from supporting a healthy weight to strengthening immune function to increasing cardiovascular fitness.

But there are also quite a few mental and emotional upsides to being physically active. Moving your body regularly can improve your memory, boost your mood, and even help you get better sleep. And it can also reduce unhealthy food cravings.

For your safety, if you have any medical conditions or physical limitations, it's a good idea to discuss activity recommendations with your healthcare provider before making any changes or beginning any new fitness programs.

Get Restful Sleep

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that most adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep makes it more likely that you’ll make healthy food choices and have the energy necessary to exercise consistently.

Researchers who study sleep architecture—the amount of time you spend within each sleep cycle—found that people who don’t get as much deep sleep are more likely to be obese. If you're struggling between the sheets, explore some new self-care strategies to catch more zzz's.

Know Your Numbers

Knowing your health numbers, such as weight, glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure—makes it possible for you to adjust your habits and correct imbalances before they become irreversible health conditions.

Not knowing where you stand makes it impossible to know where to focus your efforts when it comes to improving your health. If you’re not up to date on your health screenings and exams, add that to your self-care to-do list right now.

To strengthen the systemic dimension of self-care, honor your body with nourishing foods, move it regularly, and get sufficient restful sleep. And don’t forget to schedule health screenings and exams to keep tabs on important health numbers.

Taking good care of your physical health ensures that you're able to keep doing all the things you love to do. The Systemic Dimension of Self-Care can help you build a strong foundation for good health.

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