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21/Jul/2022

Looking for ways to put more ‘care’ into your self-care game? We’ve got 21 tips to help you!

1. There’s no perfect or right way to practise self-care

The first tip, and I can’t stress this enough, is there’s no perfect or right way to practise self-care. Sure, we can talk about the International Self-Care Foundation’s seven pillars, and we can push exercise, healthy eating and hand washing until the cows come home 🐄 🐄 🐄. But, if those things don’t resonate with you, or you have other pressing issues vying for your attention (e.g. dealing with a case of painsomnia), you’re not going to care about our messaging on those topics. Or, at least not at the moment.

2. Choose your own adventure

This leads us to tip number two. Self-care is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. It’s unique to you, your life, your specific set of circumstances and your choices.

3. Create your toolbox

Knowing the basic elements or tools of self-care (see the seven pillars) means you can choose what you need to help you manage at specific times. It’s like having a trusty toolbox filled to the brim with info about exercise, smoking cessation, healthy recipes, pain management strategies, guided imagery scripts and massage oil. You can pick and choose what you want or need. The key is knowing what’s available and how they can help you.

So far, we’ve been talking broadly about self-care. Now let’s look at some more specific tips our consumers and staff recommend.

4. Drink water

It lubricates and cushions your joints, aids digestion, prevents constipation, keeps your temperature normal and helps maintain your blood pressure. The amount of water you need varies from person to person and from day to day. There’s no ‘one size fits all’, but “as a general rule, men need about 10 cups of fluids every day and women need about 8 cups (add another cup a day if you are pregnant or breastfeeding)”. (1)

5. Plan your menu

You can take a lot of the stress out of your day if you sit and plan your week’s meals and snacks. Check what ingredients you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer, work out what you need to buy, and write it all down. Then all you hopefully need is one trip to the shops, and you’re sorted! No more – ‘what’s for dinner’ angst. 😐 Eatforhealth.gov.au has some info on meal planning and sample plans for men, women and children.

6. Get excited about exercise

Mix up your exercise routine with something fun and enjoyable to get you out of your exercise rut. Try Zumba, cardio, low-impact exercises, tennis, dancing, skipping, cycling, or trampolining. Head to your local fitness centre or gym, try an online class or download an app like Get Active Victoria. There’s something for everyone!

7. Just breathe

Our breathing can become shallow when we feel stressed, anxious, upset or in pain. This, in turn, can elevate blood pressure and increase the heart rate. It can also cause more tension. When you notice this happening, take some time to decompress. Relax your body. Focus on your breathing. Slowly take a deep breath in. Fill your lungs to a capacity that’s comfortable for you. Then slowly release this breath. Don’t release it in a sudden exhale, but control it, so it’s slow and smooth. Continue this deep breathing, and you’ll feel your muscles relax, and your mind calm.

8. Write it down

Write about the things that make you happy and grateful. Write about the things that went well in your day.

And write about the bad things. Not so you’ll continue to obsess about them, but so you can process your feelings and actions. This reflection allows you to devise strategies to prevent the bad thing from happening again, or ways to handle it differently in the future.

9. Fill your home with plants

Bring the outdoors in and enjoy the health benefits. Having plants in your indoor spaces can help relieve stress, improve mood, lower blood pressure and improve air quality. Just be sure to check that they’re not toxic for you, your family or your furry housemates. 🌼

10. Have a regular date night

Whether with your significant other or a bestie, having a regular date night scheduled gives you something to look forward to. It also means there’s less chance that other commitments get in the way of you spending dedicated time with that person, which is essential for nurturing your relationship. 🧡💚💛

11. Say no

We all want to please others, so saying no can be challenging. But you need to weigh up everything you have going on and decide whether you can take on something else. If you can’t, then say no. And don’t feel you have to apologise for doing so.

12. Discover new places

Embrace your inner adventurer and explore new places. Far or near – it doesn’t matter. The point is to get out in the world and experience new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Immerse yourself in new experiences.

13. Listen to music

Music is a powerful force we often don’t think about – or at least not too deeply. It’s always there, often in the background. But music can improve your mood, help you focus, get motivated and even ease your pain. Find out more about the power of music.

14. Pat your pets

Spending time with your pets is a wonderful tonic. It can decrease blood pressure, reduce feelings of loneliness, reduce stress, improve your mood and increase opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities. And they’re so much fun! 🐶😺

15. Get tidy and organised

Nothing can make you frazzled faster than not being able to find that ‘thing’ you’re looking for. So taking time to put things away in their place after you’ve used them, or reorganising your cupboard/pantry/child’s room, so that things are orderly and easy to find can bring a lot of calm to your life. The level of order you want to achieve is up to you. Although there are MANY social posts about the perfectly organised home, don’t fall down that rabbit hole. All you need to achieve is a space that makes you feel good and suits your lifestyle.

16. Eat mindfully

How often have you eaten dinner but can’t remember what it tasted like because you were watching TV? Or wondered how on earth you ate a whole packet of potato chips while scrolling through Insta? If this sounds familiar, try some mindfulness. You may have tried mindfulness meditation, but you can also be mindful when you do other activities, like eating. It simply means that you focus on the moment and the activity without being distracted. So when you’re eating, really take time to focus on the textures, smells and flavours and how the food makes you feel.

17. Get your meds sorted

Medicines are an important part of our self-care, but it’s easy to miss doses, get them mixed up with others meds or take them at the wrong time. So have a chat with your pharmacist. Ask questions about your medicines and supplements, so you’re fully informed about each one.

Many pharmacies have apps you can download that alert you when you need a new script, or you can download the MedicineWise app from NPS. If you take lots of medicines, or you find it hard to keep track of whether you’ve taken them or not, consider using a pill dispenser. You can buy one and fill it yourself, or your pharmacist can do this for you.

18. Listen to your body

Living with a chronic condition means that you need to be self-aware of how you’re feeling. If you’re exhausted, rest. If your back’s stiff, move. If you’re feeling sluggish, get some fresh air. If you’re feeling full, stop eating. Whatever your body is telling you, listen and take action.

19. Treat yourself

Many self-care posts we see on socials are very much of the ‘treat yo’ self’ variety. Going to a day spa, enjoying decadent foods, doing some online shopping, getting a pedicure, binging a favourite TV series, or travelling to exotic places. And why not? Why not indulge in pleasurable things that make you happy every now and again? As long as you’re not overindulging, overspending or overeating. Find the right balance and treat yourself. 😍

20. Stand up

We spend so much of our time sitting. In the car, on the couch, at the office, in waiting rooms. But we know that too much sitting can be bad for our health. It increases the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. It also makes us feel tired, and our muscles and joints become stiff and sore from inactivity. So stand up and move regularly. Set alerts on your phone to remind you. Or download the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Rise & Recharge app, which helps reduce sitting time and encourages regular movement.

21. Play

We loved to play when we were kids. Chasing each other, making up games, not overthinking things and just having fun. But as adults, we become too busy for play. Or we feel silly or self-conscious about how we might appear when we play. But playing is fun! It helps us forget about our work and commitments. It lets us be in the moment and let our inhibitions go. Play relieves stress and allows us to be creative and imaginative. So rediscover playing – with your kids, pets, partner, and friends. Let your inner child loose, play and have fun! Rediscover chasey (the dogs love that one), play hide and seek, build a blanket fort in your lounge, throw a Frisbee, play charades, the floor is lava, or a video game tournament. There are no rules – just have fun!

Contact our free national Help Line

Call our nurses if you have questions about managing your painmusculoskeletal condition, treatment options, mental health issues, COVID-19, telehealth, or accessing services. They’re available weekdays between 9am-5pm on 1800 263 265; email (helpline@msk.org.au) or via Messenger.

More to explore

Reference

(1) Drinking water and your health, Healthdirect


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28/Jan/2021

We’re well and truly into summer now, and it’s hot all over the country. If you’re like me, you’re either sprawled on the couch with the fan pointed directly at you or at the local watering hole/river/pool/beach up to your neck in water. Anything to stay cool.

When it’s really hot it makes it difficult to even think about doing anything productive. But life doesn’t stop because it’s a hot summer’s day. We still have to work, go to school, do our chores, exercise and socialise. Life goes on.

But a really simple thing we can do to make it easier to cope is to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.

Did you know more than half of your body is made up of water?

And while we can survive for weeks without food, we can only survive for days without water. It really is essential for our survival.

The importance of water

Water lubricates and cushions our joints, aids digestion, prevents constipation, keeps our temperature normal and helps maintain blood pressure. It carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells, flushes out toxins, and cushions the brain and spinal cord. It can also help prevent gout attacks, boost energy levels and fight fatigue. It also makes us feel full, which in turn helps us maintain or lose weight.

It’s practically magic, which is why it’s so often referred to as the elixir of life.

We lose water constantly when we breathe, sweat and go to the toilet, so we need to replace it constantly. If we don’t, our body can’t work as well as it should. We start feeling thirsty, and may experience symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness, tiredness or a headache.

How much water should you drink every day?

The amount of water you need each day varies from person to person and from day to day. There’s no ‘one size fits all’.

Things like your age, gender, weight, health, the temperature and your environment will affect how much water you’ll need. Other factors such as whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or living or working in environments that cause you to sweat more will increase the amount of water you need to drink every day. As will your level of physical activity. So there are a lot of factors that will affect how much you need. And this may change from day to day.

That’s why the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that you drink ‘plenty of water’, as they acknowledge that the amount needed is so specific to each person.

The old adage of eight glasses every day is not based on any scientific evidence. You should let your thirst be the guide.

Another good indicator as to whether you’re drinking enough water is the colour of your urine. If it’s consistently pale or very light then you’re getting enough water, however if it’s darker, it means that you’re dehydrated and need to increase your daily intake of water. Healthdirect has a urine chart to help you see if you’re adequately hydrated. Check it out and next time you go for a wee, notice the colour. Where does it fit on the chart?

Tips to increase your water intake

Many people find it difficult to drink enough water every day. Hectic schedules and just the general business of life means that we can go for long periods of time without having a drink. Here are some suggestions to help you get enough water every day:

  • Buy a good quality water bottle (or two) and keep it with you at work, in the car, when you’re out and about, or when you’re exercising. Many parks and public places have water refill stations so you can fill your water bottle up when you need to.
  • Don’t forget other drinks (e.g. fruit juice, milk, herbal tea) and many foods (e.g. celery, cucumber, strawberries and melons) all contribute to your daily water intake. While plain water is the best option and should be your hydration ‘go to’, other drinks and foods do play an important role. Read this article from Medical News Today – Hydrating foods: The top 20 and their benefits – for more info.
  • Make it a habit. For example, drink a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning. You’ve gone many hours without any water and likely have a dry mouth and gross morning breath. A glass of water will help with both of those things. Drink water with your meals and before you go to bed. Building it into your everyday routine means it’ll become a habit and you’re less likely to become dehydrated.
  • Create triggers. This is part of making it a habit. So when you do things like clean your teeth, go to the loo, walk through the kitchen, watch your favourite TV show, or come back from a walk, have a glass of water.
  • Jazz up your water by adding healthy additions that provide a flavour punch. Think about slices of citrus fruits like lemon, lime or orange. Or some mint leaves, ginger or lemongrass. There are so many options. Just be careful if you’re adding teas, infusions or cordials to your water that you’re not adding a lot of extra sugar.
  • Add some sparkle. If you find plain water a little uninspiring, mix it up with some sparkling water. Again – plain is best, but if you’re feeling bored with that, sparkling or carbonated water is a better alternative to soft drinks, fruit drinks and smoothies.
  • Set reminders on your phone or computer. Just as you do to get up and move, set an alarm to remind you to drink some water.
  • Have a glass of water whenever you eat. If you’re dining out, ask for water for your table.
  • Track your water intake on your fitness tracker or health app.
  • Consume alcohol and drinks containing caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, cola) in moderation. They’re diuretics, which means they make you go to the toilet more often and lose water through urine, so be careful of the amount you drink.
  • If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough water, or you’re not sure how much water is right for you, talk with your doctor or a dietitian.

Make drinking enough water an important part of your daily routine. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find it’s something you do automatically, and you’ll notice how much better you feel when you’re properly hydrated.

And with the hot weather making us feel limp and wrung out, it’s the perfect time to get started.

Call our Help Line

If you have questions about things like managing your pain, your musculoskeletal condition, treatment options, COVID-19, telehealth, or accessing services be sure to call our nurses. They’re available weekdays between 9am-5pm on 1800 263 265; email (helpline@msk.org.au) or via Messenger.

More to explore


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27/May/2018

Essential for life

Did you know that more than half of your body is made up of water?

Water lubricates and cushions your joints, aids digestion, prevents constipation, keeps your temperature normal and helps maintain your blood pressure.

We lose water constantly when we breathe, sweat and go to the toilet, so you need to replace this water. If you don’t, your body can’t work as well as it should. You’ll feel thirsty, and you may experience symptoms like dizziness or light-headedness, tiredness or get a headache.

The amount of water you need each day varies from person to person and from day to day. There’s no ‘one size fits all’.

Things like your age, gender, health and environment will affect how much water you’ll need. You’ll notice that you drink more in warmer weather, and when you’re physically active, compared to the amount you drink when you’re sitting at home on a winter’s night.

Some people find it difficult to drink enough. If that’s you, here are some suggestions to help you get enough water every day:

  • buy a good quality water bottle and keep it with you at work, in the car, when you’re exercising. Many parks and public places have water refill stations so you can fill your water bottle up when you need to.
  • count your other drinks (e.g. fruit juice, milk, herbal tea) and some of your foods (e.g. soups and watery foods like celery and melons) as they also add to your daily water intake.
  • create triggers – e.g. have a glass of water after you use the toilet, or when you walk through the kitchen
  • jazz it up by adding lemon, ginger or some other flavouring to your water.
  • set reminders on your phone or computer.
  • have a glass of water each time you eat. If you’re out for a meal, ask for water for your table.
  • track your water intake on your fitness tracker or health app.
  • alcohol and drinks containing caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, cola) are diuretics, which means they make you go to the toilet more often and lose water through urine, so try to consume these in moderation.
  • if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough water, or you’re not sure how much water is right for you, talk with your doctor.

Make drinking enough water an important part of your daily routine. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find it’s something you do automatically, and you’ll feel great!




Musculoskeletal Australia (or MSK) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

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