Getting to the Heart of Self-Care

hands surrounding a heart-shaped earth

It’s undeniable that self-care has been picking up steam over the past few months, but not without mixed feelings. Some still view self-care as a selfish endeavor, calling for a shift to “community care” or some other more socially acceptable term. But I think they’re missing what’s at the heart of self-care.

When I joined the self-care movement back in 2015 and founded Living Upp, I knew something big was brewing.

An Act of Civil Disobedience

Not only were we approaching full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but we were also coming to terms with the fact that healthcare wasn’t becoming more affordable at all. In fact, the opposite was happening. Pharmaceutical companies were taking advantage of their powerful market share (remember the EpiPen fiasco?), companies were enlisting more aggressive tactics to get employees engaged in corporate wellness programs, and insurance companies were opting out of the Marketplace altogether. Then came the 2016 election, when emotionally charged political rants became the norm on social media, to the point that it took a toll on our physical health.

There’s little doubt that self-care is an act of civil disobedience. It’s one of the few things we have control over, and it has the potential to shift the power back where it belongs: to individuals. Better health reduces our dependence on professionalized medicine, which by default also decreases our participation in the costly healthcare system that is quickly becoming impossible for the average American to navigate.

A Powerful Preventive Health Tool

Having worked in healthcare for 18+ years as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, I understand the complexities that we face – both from the perspective of patients and medical providers.

Here’s what I know to be true: self-care is the most powerful preventive health tool we have. Take, for example, the fact that a mere 5 to 10% weight loss reduces the risk of developing diabetes by about 58%. That’s a big deal when you consider the burdens that come with managing this chronic condition.

Self-care is the most powerful preventive health tool we have. Click To Tweet

A Shift Toward Reciprocity

But self-care isn’t a solo gig. At its best, it involves other people. It includes knowing when to seek professional medical attention, and how to ask for help from family and friends.

It begins on a personal level, but it doesn’t linger there. Self-care is the act of making kind daily choices about how we live and care for ourselves – and the world around us. The foods we choose, the amount of rest we allow ourselves, the kinds of people we invite into our lives, the way we manage our finances, the parts of our personalities that we choose to bring forward, the gifts we use to make a contribution to the world – all of these choices have a ripple effect.

Our interactions with others, and the earth we share, has an impact on the health of every living thing on the planet. That’s what lies at the heart of self-care. It’s a collective shift toward reciprocity that begins on an individual level.

Our interactions with others, and the earth we share, has an impact on the health of every living thing on the planet. Click To Tweet

That’s what makes it so powerful.

Getting to the Heart of Self-Care

The self-care movement is still in its infancy, but it’s continuing to develop and grow into something that I believe will be more sustainable and effective than what the healthcare industry has offered us thus far. Once we start to see a collective shift away from being passive recipients of healthcare, and toward being active directors of our own well-being, the industry will have no choice but to follow suite.

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