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  • Writer's pictureNanci Miklowski, ND

Happy International Self-Care Day!

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

International Self-Care Day (ISD) was established by the International Self-Care Foundation in 2011 to help bring awareness to the importance of self-care in maintaining health and well-being. ISD is celebrated on 7/24 to symbolize that self-care should occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The International Self-Care Foundation recognizes seven pillars of self-care, which are:

  1. Knowledge and health literacy

  2. Mental well-being, self-awareness, and agency

  3. Physical activity

  4. Healthy eating

  5. Risk avoidance or mitigation

  6. Good hygiene

  7. Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics, and medicine [1].

You can learn more about the holiday and the seven pillars here.


Many of us already have packed schedules, so it can seem overwhelming to add one more thing. Self-care doesn't have to be daunting or take a lot of time. Any activity that improves your mental, physical, or emotional well-being is an act of self-care.

Take a few minutes today to make a list of daily habits you engage in that make you feel good. If your list is looking a little sparse or you're interested in trying something new, consider adopting a couple of the habits below. Doing so can help you feel better, improve your well-being, and make it easier to keep up with all that life throws at you!

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Start the day with 16 ounces of filtered water. Your body needs to be rehydrated in the morning since you spend 6-8 hours (hopefully!) not drinking water. Some of us sweat at night which causes further dehydration. Being hydrated improves energy and mental clarity [2]. It can also help with weight loss, headache prevention, and constipation [2]. So drink up!

Dry skin brushing. This simple act exfoliates the skin, improves circulation, and gets lymph moving. To do, purchase a stiff, natural brush like this. Use light pressure (it shouldn’t hurt) and make short, quick strokes across your skin. Always do so in the direction of your heart. Start at your feet and work up your legs and trunk. Finish with your arms, chest, and back. Do not use on your face. This is best done before a hot shower or bath so the exfoliated skin can be washed off.

Contrast shower hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy, using water internally or externally to promote health, has been utilized for centuries. One very simple hydrotherapy technique is the contrast shower. At the end of your shower, turn on the cold water and spray your chest and back for 30 seconds each. Cold water exposure improves blood circulation and immunity, and it can give you a boost of energy to start the day [3]. To make it easier to adapt to this practice, gradually decrease the water temperature over a few days but never make it colder than what you can comfortably tolerate. Once you get used to the contrast shower, you will start to look forward to the blast of cold!

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Set a timer to take a break every hour while at work.

Hourly breaks. When working, try to take a break every hour for a few minutes. During this time you can do a couple laps around the office or walk up and down some stairs. Other options include sitting in your chair and stretching or closing your eyes and taking deep breaths. You can also stand at your desk and do a couple squats (as long as you don't bump into your coworkers!). Whatever you chose to do, don't let it be technology-based. Don't look at social media, make phone calls, read the internet news, etc. Focus on a physical activity that reduces stress and maybe even gets your heart rate up.

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Waterfall visualization technique. Leave work-related stress at work. Yes, I know, sometimes that's easier said than done. One way to make it easier is a visualization technique in which you imagine a large waterfall above your head. As the water pours down on you, it washes away all of the stress, conversations, interactions, negative energy, etc. and sends it back to the Earth. This only takes a few moments and can be done anywhere, just not while you're driving! :)

Earthing. This is one my absolute favorites. It's as simple as taking off your shoes and walking around barefoot in the grass. You can do this during lunch at a park nearby work or in your own backyard. When your bare feet contact the Earth they absorb free electrons, which act as an antioxidant in your body [4]. Research has shown that earthing can improve sleep, chronic pain, and stress [4].

Bonus: Combine this with the waterfall visualization technique for 2-for-1 self-care!

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After dinner walk. Walking after dinner can help aid in digestion and lower blood glucose [5]. Some, including myself, also notice that it helps curb cravings for sweets. This self-care habit has become so ingrained in our family routine that both our toddler and dog run to the door after the dishes are cleared. Sometimes the weather can make an after-dinner stroll a little more cumbersome...or maybe it just makes it more of an adventure!

Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. Getting to bed 30 minutes earlier may not seem like a big deal but getting more sleep is crucial for health. Sleep is necessary for better concentration and productivity [6]. People who sleep poorly have an increased risk of being overweight and suffering from cardiovascular disease, depression, and inflammation [6]. This self-care act may take a bit of planning but the benefits are well worth it. I have found the best way to stick to this is to set a phone alarm to remind me to start getting ready for bed. Otherwise, I will watch "just one more episode" or read "just one more article". Once in bed, do your best not to look at your phone or watch TV as the blue light can inhibit melatonin production [7].

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Gratitude journal. While in bed, think of three things that happened today for which you are grateful. Write them down in a journal kept in your nightstand. Over time this practice can help shift negative thinking, which bogs many of us down. You can also read through the journal on particularly stressful days to help shift your perspective. Practicing gratefulness before bed may even help prevent worrying thoughts from affecting your sleep.

This list is by no means exhaustive but it includes quick and easy self-care acts that benefit both my patients and myself. I hope you can reap the healthy rewards, too!

In Health and Happiness,

Dr. Nanci

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[2] Leech J (2017) Seven science-based health benefits of drinking enough water. Healthline. [accessed 16 June 2018].

[3] Mooventhan A and Nivethitha L (2014) Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body. North American Journal of Medical Sciences 6(5): 199-209.

[4] Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, et al. (2012) Earthing: Health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth's surface electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012: 291541.



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