There are probably about as many approaches to self-care as there are people trying to practice it! Always remember that just because something works for one person doesn't mean it has to work for you - don't be afraid to switch up your self-care practices if they don't feel good for you.
Please check in with yourself before reading the following examples of self care approaches. They include detailed examples and recommendations about physical activities and nutrition that may not be suitable for everyone's needs, in particular when there are different mental health needs that may need to be seen to first. If you are prone to mental health issues around food or exercise, tending to those needs first may be in your best interest.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training. There are several exercises designed to develop mindfulness meditation, including the use of guided meditations.
One method is to sit on a straight-backed chair or sit cross-legged on the floor or a cushion, close one’s eyes and bring attention to either the sensations of breathing in the proximity of one’s nostrils or to the movements of the abdomen when breathing in and out.
In this meditation practice, one does not try to control one’s breathing, but attempts to simply be aware of one’s natural breathing process. When engaged in this practice, the mind will often run off to other thoughts and associations, and if this happens, one passively notices that the mind has wandered, and in an accepting, non-judgmental way, returns to focusing on breathing. In body-scan meditation the attention is directed at various areas of the body and noting body sensations that happen in the present moment.
Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness.
Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes the body to use more oxygen than it would while resting. The goal of aerobic exercise is to increase cardiovascular endurance. Examples of aerobic exercise include running, cycling, swimming, brisk walking, skipping rope, rowing, hiking, playing tennis, continuous training, and long slow distance training.
Anaerobic exercise, which includes strength and resistance training, can firm, strengthen, and tone muscles, as well as improve bone strength, balance, and coordination. Examples of strength moves are push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and bicep curls using dumbbells.
Flexibility exercises stretch and lengthen muscles. Activities such as stretching help to improve joint flexibility and keep muscles limber. The goal is to improve the range of motion which can reduce the chance of injury. Each stretch should be held for a minimum of 10–20 seconds and stretched to the point of mild discomfort but not pain.
Martial Arts can be a great way to get all of the exercise you need whilst building confidence and learning how to better defend yourself and your friends, family and comrades when in physical danger. It can involve and is complemented by all of the types of exercise above. There are many different types of Martial Arts practices and many many people cross-train in more than one style. Here is a small selection:
Sometimes it can be hard to find a good gym to train in that is welcoming. Avoid anything that is super macho and look for places that do mixed gender classes. Recommendations from people you know are best. Don't be afraid to sign up for some beginner classes at various gyms until you find something that suits you. Many gyms have ridiculously cheap beginner sessions as they hope that anyone who enjoys their space will sign up for full price membership in the long term.
Alternatively, if you know some friends who have some training, you could set up your own sessions. In the UK, there is a network of “red gyms” which are anti-fascist community gyms that aim to create an accessible and non-macho environment for leftists to learn martial arts and stay fit.
A healthy diet is a diet that helps to maintain or improve overall health. A healthy diet provides the body with essential nutrition: fluid, macronutrients, micronutrients, and adequate calories. A healthy diet contains mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and includes little to no processed food and sweetened beverages. The requirements for a healthy diet can be met from a variety of plant-based and animal-based foods, although a non-animal source of vitamin B12 is needed for those following a vegan diet.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check. Variety and color are key to a healthy diet. On most days, try to get at least one serving from each of the following categories: dark green leafy vegetables; yellow or orange fruits and vegetables; red fruits and vegetables; legumes (beans) and peas; and citrus fruits.
The amount of carbohydrate in the diet – high or low – is less important than the type of carbohydrate in the diet. For example, healthy, whole grains such as whole wheat bread, rye, barley and quinoa are better choices than highly refined white bread or French fries.
Because protein is found in an abundance of foods, many people can easily meet this goal. However, not all protein “packages” are created equal. Because foods contain a lot more than protein, it’s important to pay attention to what else is coming with it. Choose fish, poultry, beans, and nuts; limit red meat and cheese; avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.