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Physical Self-Care

There are multiple ways that we can engage in physical self-care.  It is much beyond that of exercise and nutrition, although both are incredibly important.  Physical self-care is imperative to help support our mind, body, and spirit, but also boosts our health and wellness.

Taking care of ourselves physically can help boost our immune system functioning, and can reduce stress, which has been shown to increase our cortisol levels, in turn, reducing our immune system functioning.  Engaging in physical self-care is incredibly crucial from both a preventative, proactive standpoint.  In addition, it is critical during times of stress and/or crisis.

Here are some ways to nurture yourself physically:


  • Food & nutrients: Balanced nutrition, including fresh fruits & vegetables, and vitamins (Vitamin B, C, & D especially for immune system and mood) and minerals (magnesium and balanced sodium & potassium are important). 

    • Here is a website about various vitamins and minerals that help with mental and physical health and wellness.

    • Here is some information from a Harvard blog on nutritional psychiatry.

    • We now know that there is a brain-gut connection, including having serotonin receptors in our gut.  Here is some information from a Harvard blog on how food (and your gut) affect your mood.

  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated, including drinking water

    • Here is medical information about the importance of hydration from a medical/physical lens.​

    • Here is additional information on how hydration impacts cognition and mood.

  • Breathing: Many of us do not take the time to connect with ourselves and our breath. It is important to make sure we are getting enough deep breaths (this also helps to activate our parasympathetic nervous system activity). Click here for a link for proper breathing.​

    • When stressed, focus on your breath (i.e., deep breathing or count your breaths).  It is great to take a small moment of your day to help focus on your breath, during the morning, at night, during your commute, or anytime.​

    • Deep breathing is very helpful to relax ourselves.  Click here for an animation to help you be intentional with your breath.

    • There are many breathing techniques and each person needs to see which techniques help their system "calm" the best (e.g., pausing in the middle of inhaling and exhaling to hold breath, the length at which you breath, etc.)  Here are some additional options to help with deep breathing and further activating your "rest and digest" system and to help support your vagus nerve:

  • Body Awareness: Often, we are so busy, we forget about our physicality.  To help us build and maintain groundedness, it is important for us to be "present" within oneself. 

    • One great way to do this is a body scan.  A body scan allows us to scan our body for tension, and for us to also 'notice' any areas that are more relaxed.  Click here for an example of a body scan and to start to build your awareness of, and connection to, your three-dimensionality and personal presence. 

    • Another thing that is important is ergonomics when we are sitting at our desks and for long periods of time.  Here is some information on how to arrange our desk and self.  And, here is a podcast on ergonomics and their importance: NPR Life-Kit podcast on ergonomics.

  • Physical Pampering: This is often what many think of with "self-care."  Beyond a pedicure, getting your hair done, or taking a bath with your favorite bath bomb, there are many ways we can pamper ourselves physically.​​  It really helps when we can be intentional and mindful when we engage in such self-care activities.

    • Self-massage where there are tense spots.  This could be your feet, temples, or shoulders.  Taking a moment to connect and nurture yourself physical to help release tension and stress is a great way to take good care.​

    • Intentional grooming can also be a great way to connect with oneself.  Our feet and hands do so much for us day in and day out, so it can be helpful to focus on those areas or other areas of our body.  Exfoliation and applying lotion are just some simple ways to take care of  our skin and different parts of our body.  When we are focusing on various parts of our body, it can be helpful to also "thank them" for what they do for us.

    • Soaking our entire body in a bath or even just our hands or feet can really be beneficial.  Especially when using warm water with epsom salt, it helps to release tension and provide our body with magnesium which is helpful to mitigate muscle aches.  Water helps provide physical support for our body and alleviate some of the physical strength we use to support ourselves.    

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