“The basis for medicine in the 21st Century will be self-care.” Robert Ivker, D.O.
This is a very powerful statement. The purpose of the “Practically Yours: Self-care tips for Counsellors” posts are to provide useful, applicable, and indeed practical tips and suggestions on self-care for counselling practitioners. In my previous post, I discussed the importance of proper self-care. We know the theories and benefits of it, we talk to our clients about it, and we have been doing it all of our lives.
But what are the links between self-care and good health? To begin, we must first define what it means to be healthy.
In this post I will introduce six components of health as outlined in the book, “The Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine: Creating Optimal Health” (Ivker, Anderson, & Trivieri, 2000), and discuss practical activities related to the first component, physical health. Being healthy is not just the absence of illness. “I am healthy because I am not sick,” is only a partial truth. The word health in itself means “to make whole.” Having a feeling of wholeness connotes elements of ourselves converging in balance and harmony. The Guide’s six components of health include: physical, environmental, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social (Ivker et al., 2000). In aboriginal cultures, this is akin to the concept of the medicine wheel and its four components: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Proper holistic self-care then, involves actions that seek to achieve and maintain balance between these various components of health.
Ivker et al. (2000), summarize physical health as a “condition of high energy and vitality”. Going for a walk, run, or stretching are common examples of physical activity, but we can bring elements of exercise into many things we do. When you make dinner, do some exercises in the kitchen while you cook. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, stretch every 30 minutes if you sit for long periods of time, have naps when you are tired, and/or enjoy sensual pleasures. Remember, being active is only one component of good physical health. Drinking adequate amounts of water and maintaining a healthy diet are important as well. There are numerous things you can do to feel vibrant and increase your energy levels.
One activity I offer clients, especially on a nice day, is going for a stroll. Not a power walk, a leisurely stroll. I pay attention to the speed of their walk and their body posture. If it is a brisk pace and their head is down, they may be preoccupied with something, or it is habitual for them to be “rushing about.” In these situations we explore the difference in experience between a slow and fast pace in their walk, and how this relates metaphorically to their life.
Make physical health a conscious priority in your life and practice, and enjoy yourself!
Derrick Shirley, MSc.
Ivker, R.S., Anderson, R.A., & Trivieri, L. Jr. (2000). “The self-care guide to holistic medicine: creating optimal health.” Penguin Putnam Inc., New York.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA