By Registered Dietitian Lauren
Do you ever feel like you are burning out? Stress, fatigue, and a long list of responsibilities can make weight loss and maintenance feel like another daunting task to take on. Often, the key thing that’s missing is time to refuel and check in with yourself. You may have heard this referred to as “self-care.”
Does time for yourself feel like a luxury that you cannot afford? The truth is self-awareness, breaks from work, sleep, physical activity, relationships, and yes, healthy eating are not luxuries. They are essential ingredients in your life that keep you healthy, prevent burnout, and build resilience (1).
The Role of Self-Care
When you think of self care, the main goal is not necessarily to get out of town or forget all your troubles. The key is to practice emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence involves the ability to be aware of what you are feeling, and how it can affect your choices and actions.
For example, you may have heard your Livea consultant suggest that you “pause, ask, decide” when faced with a food choice. This is a technique to become more aware of your emotions and reactions to your surroundings and understand how they may be affecting your decisions.
One self-care technique that can help you be more aware of your emotions and how they affect you is meditation. Often, when we hear the word “meditation”, we imagine a long, drawn out session of sitting on the floor quietly. But you can benefit even without a lot of time or space.
Research suggests that just one minute of meditation can help lower your blood pressure, pulse rate, and feelings of stress. If you’re not into yoga, meditation can involve taking a few deep breaths to clear your head (4). You can make meditation accessible for your lifestyle by using whatever time and space you have.
Regularly being aware of how you’re feeling can help prevent burnout because it gives you an opportunity to catch yourself early, before you are worn out. Taking one minute for self-awareness is also accessible and affordable, even on busy days and on a tight budget.
Resilience is being able to bounce back after challenging times. For example, maybe you have a stressful family situation, and you find yourself going back to some old coping habits and reaching for the treat table. Resilience is realizing how the situation is affecting you and, as quickly as possible, practicing healthier habits again.
Resilience is resetting after getting off track and making your next choice the right choice. If you don’t feel like you have this ability already, it’s something you can learn with practice.
Self-care techniques that help build your ability to bounce back include:
- Practice Self-Awareness: Regularly ask yourself what is motivating your choices to ensure you keep going in the direction you want to go.
- Practice Mindfulness in Daily Activities: Observe your surroundings without judging them. Pay attention to the taste of your food. Look around on your walk and notice the colors, sounds, and temperature.
- Build Supportive Relationships: Your friends, family members, and coworkers can help you celebrate your strengths, recharge, and build your problem solving skills (3).
- Make Time for Restorative Activities: Owning walking shoes, gardening tools, or books will not do you any good if you don’t use them! Prioritize your health by scheduling time into your week to do things that make you feel relaxed (4).
- Choose Foods that You Like: Maybe this week, self-care means choosing a protein and a vegetable that you like instead of eating fish because you think you “should.” It’s easier to stick to a plan long term if you’re eating foods that fits closely with your preferences and lifestyle (2).
Keep Your “Why” Close
An important factor in preventing burnout is finding a sense of purpose in what you’re doing. This is what we mean when we ask you why your goal is important to you. When the number on the scale is stubbornly in the same place, look back at the reasons you started your program.
Do you have more energy to play with your kids? Are you fitting into clothes you have been wanting to wear? Are you feeling more like yourself again?
Part of self-care is celebrating your wins and giving yourself credit for everything you’re doing well (5). Connect your healthy eating and activity habits to things in your life that are important to you (6).
Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, difficult, or time-consuming, but it does need to meet your physical, mental, and emotional needs. Ask your Livea consultants for more ideas to build self-awareness, resilience, and motivation!
- Barnett, J.E., Baker, E.K., Elman, M.S., & Schoener, G.R. (2007) In pursuit of wellness: The self-care imperative. Professional psychology: Research and practice, 38(6), 603-612. https://sasheducationcampus.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/in-pursuit-of-wellness.pdf
- Gibson, A. A., & Sainsbury, A. (2017). Strategies to Improve Adherence to Dietary Weight Loss Interventions in Research and Real-World Settings. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 7(3), 44. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs7030044
- Grant, L. and Kinnmen, G. (2015) Emotional resilience in the helping professions and how it can be enhanced. Health and Social Care Education, 3(1), 23-24.https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.11120/hsce.2014.00040?scroll=top&needAccess=true
- Killian, K.D. (2018) Self-care: What do those buzzwords really mean? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intersections/201803/self-care-what-do-those-buzz-words-really-mean
- Slavin S. (2019). Preventing physician burnout: satisfaction or something more?. Israel journal of health policy research, 8(1), 34. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13584-019-0303-y
- Warshaw, H. (2020) Lifestyle changes that keep pounds off. Today’s Dietitian,(22)7, 30.