The Systemic Dimension of Self-Care

variety of colorful, real foods on a wooden table

The Systemic Dimension of Self-Care helps guide you toward healthier habits related to eating, moving, and resting. Are you honoring your body with real, nourishing foods? Are you moving it sufficiently? Are you getting enough restful sleep so it has time to recover from the demands you place on it?

8 dimensions of self-care wheel

This dimension allows you to take a closer look at your daily routines and assess how your current habits are impacting your health. Then, you can design better habits that strengthen your physical well-being.

By enlisting practical self-care strategies that support the systemic dimension of your life, you’ll reduce your risks factors for developing costly and debilitating chronic diseases and have the energy to experience your life more fully. After all, that’s what lifestyle design is all about–creating more ease and better health.

Need some help working through the Systemic Dimension of Self-Care? Join the Lifestyle Design Studio.

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Is it time to make some changes in this area of your life? Here are some ways to improve your systemic dimension:

Create a Healthy Eating Style

Each of us comes to the table with a unique set of circumstances when it comes to food choices. Your eating style—what, how much, and when you eat—is influenced by your personal experiences, beliefs, values, and preferences.

Are you an emotional eater? Do you eat mindfully? Do you need to be able to prepare meals in under 20 minutes each day? Are you managing a health condition? Do you detest cooking? These factors and many more will need to be considered as your create your personal eating style.

Fortunately, there are countless ways to nourish your body to promote good health, so finding a style that best supports your individual needs and preferences is what’s most important. Despite what many diet books on the market would have you believe, nearly twenty years of experience as a registered dietitian has taught me that perfect eating—sometimes called orthorexia—is only an illusion, and often leads to disordered eating patterns that are counterproductive to your goals. Skip perfection. Aim to do your best and trust your intuition.

So, what does a healthy eating style look like? It typically includes some combination of plant- and animal-based foods like these:

  • Non-Starchy Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Starchy Vegetables & Legumes (beans)
  • Grains, Cereals, Pastas & Flours
  • Lean Meats
  • Low-fat Dairy
  • Mono- and Polyunsaturated Fats (oils, nuts, and seeds)
  • Herbs & Spices
  • Water

Just getting started with designing your personal eating style? Download this free healthy food list and revise it to fit your style.

Download Food List

Move Your Body Regularly

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 regulating weight to strengthening immune function to increasing cardiovascular fitness. But there are also 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. So, if your health goals include weight loss, this little bit of wisdom can make a huge difference in terms of your overall strategy.

Get Adequate, 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 of these self-care strategies to catch more zzz’s.

Know Your Numbers

Knowing your health numbers—like weight, glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure—makes it possible to adjust your habits and correct imbalances before they become irreversible health conditions. Not knowing where you stand makes it impossible to know what to change or where to focus your efforts. If you’re not up to date on your screenings and exams, add that to your self-care to-do list now.

Summin’ It Up

In summary, to strengthen the systemic dimension of your life, focus on honoring your body with nourishing food, moving your body regularly and consistently, and getting enough, restful sleep. And don’t forget to schedule any necessary screenings and exams to keep tabs on your important health numbers so you can make better decisions about your habits.

Want to learn more about the 8 Dimensions of Self-Care?

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