5 Ways to Jump on the Self-Care Bandwagon:


Is self-care selfish?  

Actually, we consider it to be quite the opposite.  Self-care can be the catalyst for providing the people you love the most with even better care than what you could give them if you continue to ignore your own needs.  Acts of service like taking care of others are a love language that heaps of us show our affection with, however, their effectiveness is greatly decreased if we don’t nurture our physical and emotional needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs delineates the needs that are imperative to functioning as a person in this crazy little world–arranged from the most basic to the deepest:  physical, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization.  Although it is the most essential of all the needs, our physical health is often put on the backburner.

Let’s get physical    

Our physical bodies are temporary but that doesn’t mean we should forsake them.  There are three foundations of wellness that need our care: sleep, exercise, and nutrition.  

The benefits to recharging your body through a good night’s sleep are enough to not feel guilty for pushing the snooze button.  Adequate sleep will help you control your weight, accelerate muscle recovery which in turn maximizes your exercise performance, and could possibly save your life if you are driving.  With 1 in 3 Americans not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, sleepy drivers and distracted, lower quality conversations are a huge danger.  

The body and mind are interlinked, so it’s no wonder that a good exercise session can have noteworthy effects on our mental states.  The endorphins that are produced after a bike ride or yoga session make us happier in more ways than one. Exercise has been proven to heighten self-esteem and cognitive function while reducing depression, anxiety and negative feelings

What we eat and how we eat are both equally important to our physical and psychological well being.  Diet choices that are high in fast food, sugar and processed meat are linked to depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and diabetes.  Even factors like mealtimes and whether kids get involved in food preparation can determine future eating habits which will impact our overall health.    

Strengthen your bonds

The Mental Health Foundation’s definition of a relationship is “the way in which two or more people are connected, or the state of being connected”.  One of the domains of self-care that we’d like to pay special attention to is that of our relationships; be they family members, friends, work colleagues, healthcare professionals, teachers, pets or lovers.

In order to feel that you truly belong in a community, your connections simply cannot be shallow.  Being human is not something that we are meant to experience alone, and thankfully there are 7.6 billion people in the world to accompany us on this journey.

There’s a misconception that more is better.  In the relationship arena though, quality rules over quantity.  Quality relationships with your family, friends and community can lead to physically healthier bodies and less mental health issues than those who are better connected to the people in their lives.  Apart from that, good connections are vital for living a longer life that is filled with a sense of purpose and belonging.  

5 Ways to Jump on the Self-Care Bandwagon:

1. Stop talking to yourself like you are your worst enemy! 

Self-talk can drastically change how we experience the world.  It can shape your mood and stress levels; ultimately deciding whether you perceive a busy day to be overwhelming or as an opportunity to overcome a challenge.

2. Indulge in experiences instead of things. 

Our brains get used to things extremely easily and experience “hedonic adaptation”  when we repeatedly expose ourselves to the same things.  A museum trip with a friend or a microadventure wild camping an hour or two outside of your city can be an act of self-care.

3. Invest in close relationships. 

Sometimes people have been in our lives so long that we start to forsake them. Take time to foster strong connections with people and let them know how grateful you are that they exist simultaneously with you.

4. Get a little nostalgic and send some snail mail. 

The amount of mail we send has fallen by 43% since 2001.  However, an overwhelming majority of people agree that receiving something in the mail makes them feel special. So, get that stationary and pen out!

5. Pet a dog, cat or any animal of preference.  

Research has found that a mere 10 minutes of petting an animal can produce a significant reduction in the infamous stress hormone, cortisol.  That is enough to make us want to head over to our nearest friend who owns a pet, ASAP.  

References

1. Bennett, T., 2020. Why Is Sleep So Important? How Can I Incorporate It Into My Self-Care Routine? – Thriveworks. [online] Counseling and Life Coaching – Find a Counselor. Available at: <https://thriveworks.com/blog/sleep-important-incorporate-self-care-routine/> [Accessed 23 October 2020].

2. Butler, L., Mercer, K., McClain-Meeder, K., Horne, D. and Dudley, M., 2019. Six domains of self-care: Attending to the whole person. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, [online] 29(1), pp.107-124. Available at: <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10911359.2018.1482483?casa_token=vqh82G6EKSMAAAAA%3ABE8BKz8gdrqv0Zd6YtI8CgltwO87Oaz1eKBMGKkiJN4BgmnKk6ZDzDjpykYuejayxu1I0HOW4oFT> [Accessed 24 October 2020].

3. Greenbaum, Z., 2018. A greater role in nutritional health. Monitor on Psychology, [online] 49(10). Available at: <https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/11/cover-nutritional-health> [Accessed 24 October 2020].

4. Holder, S., 2018. Bloomberg – Are You A Robot?. [online] Bloomberg.com. Available at: <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-09/the-u-s-postal-service-s-plan-to-win-over-millennials> [Accessed 23 October 2020].

5. Humphreys, A., 2020. Microadventures. [online] Alastair Humphreys. Available at: <https://alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-3/> [Accessed 24 October 2020].

6. King, K., 2019. Four Realistic Rules For Better Self-Care. [online] Psychology Today. Available at:<https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/lifespan-perspectives/201909/four-realistic-rules-better-self-care> [Accessed 23 October 2020].

7. Luyster, F., Strollo, P., Zee, P. and Walsh, J., 2012. Sleep: A Health Imperative. Sleep, [online] pp.727-734. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353049/> [Accessed 24 October 2020].

8. Mental Health Foundation. 2020. Relationships In The 21St Century: The Forgotten Foundation Of Mental Health And Wellbeing. [online] Available at: <https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/relationships-21st-century-forgotten-foundation-mental-health-and-wellbeing#:~:text=Extensive%20evidence%20shows%20that%20having,purpose%20and%20sense%20of%20belonging.> [Accessed 23 October 2020].

9. Pinsker, J., 2020. The Yale Happiness Class, Distilled. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: <https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/06/yale-happiness-class/592477/> [Accessed 23 October 2020].

10. Sharma, A., Madaan, V. and Petty, F., 2006. Exercise for Mental Health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry, [online] 8(2). Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/#:~:text=Exercise%20improves%20mental%20health%20by,self%2Desteem%20and%20cognitive%20function.&text=Exercise%20has%20also%20been%20found,self%2Desteem%20and%20social%20withdrawal.> [Accessed 23 October 2020].

Why Inclusion Matters

There are various disparities women of color experience in society. One in particular that we’ll cover are the challenges they face and limited quality of life due to implicit and explicit biases in health care and the lack of equitable and inclusive practices by health care professionals. According to research, health care disparities connect to the differences within marginalized groups that face social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantages

The social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that women of color face is that they don’t fit within the societal standard and will be treated differently because of it.

Racial Stereotypes  

Racial stereotypes are the reason why health disparities are so prevalent within the healthcare industry. Women of color are more likely to have  hypertension, be depressed, and to rate their own health more poorly because of the negative impact those stereotypes have on them. 

Instead of being treated like an individual, women of color are placed into a box that doesn’t support their medical needs. 

According to Health Affairs, some people in the United States were more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes simply because of their race or ethnicity, not just because they lack access to health care.” The choice of being biased is a disservice to all women of color. 

Lack of Awareness 

 Medical professionals lack cultural competence where they provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors. According to Cultural Competence and Patient Safety, cultural affiliations affect how an individual seeks care, describes symptoms, and follows instructions“ which makes it imperative for medical professionals to honor their patient’s cultural beliefs. 

Physicians must recognize that preconceived perceptions of minority patients plays a role in their lack of fair treatment and contribution.According to American College of Physicians,“Physicians and other health care professionals must be sensitive to cultural diversity among patients..” Cultural insensitivity toward black and brown women creates room for discouragement instead of encouragement. 

Health Statistics 

Black and Latinx women are the targeted minority groups who are perceived to have the most compromised immune systems. Poor diet, lack of Vitamin D, and abusing hair relaxers are factors as to why 80% of Black women are prone to having fibroids by the age of 50. 

According to Minority Health, Hispanic women are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 20% are more likely to die from cervical cancer compared to white women. Women of color are more likely to not be insured because of the economic disadvantages and lack of access compared to white women.

According to the Center for American Progress, “ in 2013, 37.6% of Asian American women over age 40 did not receive  mammograms while 32% of adult Asian American women did not get routine pap smears “. Unfortunately, 1 out of 5 Asian American women are uninsured which is deemed as an economic disadvantage. 

Language Barriers 

The health disadvantages that black and Latinx women face are that they don’t experience pain and that they aren’t worth being listened to in an effective manner.

Another challenge women of color face is the language barrier that affects the quality of healthcare service. Most Latinx families don’t practice speaking English in their household which acts as a burden on the medical professional as well as the patient. The social disadvantage that the patient faces is that medical professionals aren’t bilingual or their clinic doesn’t provide interpreters.

According to the Health Policy Institute, the language barrier leads to “patient dissatisfaction, poor comprehension, and lower quality of care.” We are limiting the narrative by limiting the language between the medical professional and patient. 

More Diversity in the Workforce 

Representation within the workforce is important and having cultural competence will eliminate all patients’ reservations toward receiving the proper treatment. According to  Diversity in Healthcare, 4% of medical doctors are African-American and that is insignificantly low. As a black woman, having an African-American doctor is a rewarding yet rare experience because there is no discomfort or judgment that takes place. 

The ultimate goal is to facilitate quality care and promote transparency within the health care system so women of color can feel more comfortable and welcomed. According to American College of Physicians , providing a more diverse health care workforce that honors the patient is crucial because it’ll promote understanding among physicians, health care professionals, and patients. 

Prevent Health Disparities  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention data(2013) suggests reducing racial disparities by focusing on communities that are at greater risk and increasing access to quality care.

 According to The Health Affairs Blog, all clinicians and personnel interacting with patients should receive racial bias training so they are fully aware of their racial biases that negatively affects their patient’s quality of care. 

Inclusivity Mindset  

The United States will become a melting pot of different cultures and identities which makes inclusivity the ultimate goal toward progression. According to the National Institute of Health, women of color will represent 53% of the U.S population by 2050. 

Women of color face systematic obstacles that are made to exclude and neglect themselves daily. The inclusivity mindset will encourage women of color to be proud of their differences because they would see more health professionals that look like them. In order to decrease racial disparities, unsupported women of color must find ways to advocate for themselves so they receive the proper support that they deserve. The list below are 5 tips that will help decrease racial disparities within the healthcare industry.  

Here’s some Tips that will Help Decrease Racial Disparities:

  1. Advocate for yourself and hire a translator to eliminate the language barriers between you and your primary doctor
  2. Be more assertive with your primary doctor and express your concerns 
  3. Create a system where all patients of color have equal access to resources
  4. Demand to have a more diverse workforce so patients can comfortably adapt
  5. Start the conversation as medical professionals by addressing that racism within healthcare exists 

Inclusivity within the healthcare industry will shift the narrative of what it means to individuals and not statistics. The significance of being a woman is having the ability to face your hardships with grace and resilience even when you’re misunderstood. 

Work Cited Page

Armstrong, Katrina, et al. “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Physician Distrust in the United States.” American Journal of Public Health, © American Journal of Public Health 2007, July 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1913079/

Artiga, Samantha, Kendal Orgera. “Disparities in Health and Health Care: Five Key Questions and Answers.” KFF, 1 Apr. 2020, www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/disparities-in-health-and-health-care-five-key-questions-and-answers/.

Elder, Nancy C., and Sunil Kripalani. “Cultural Competence and Patient Safety.” PSNet, 2019, psnet.ahrq.gov/perspective/cultural-competence-and-patient-safety

Enekwechi, Shantanu Agrawal Adaeze. “It’s Time To Address The Role Of Implicit Bias Within Health Care Delivery.” It’s Time To Address The Role Of Implicit Bias Within Health Care Delivery | Health Affairs, 15 Jan. 2020, www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20200108.34515/full/ 

Frederick, Rejane. “The Environment That Racism Built.” Center for American Progress, 5 Dec. 2018, www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2018/05/10/450703/environment-racism-built/

Morin, Amy LCSW. “How Much Damage Can Racial Stereotyping Cause?” Verywell Mind, 31 July 2020, www.verywellmind.com/harmful-psychological-effects-of-racial-stereotyping-5069394

Partida, Yolanda. “Language Barriers and the Patient Encounter.” Journal of Ethics | American Medical Association, American Medical Association, 1 Aug. 2007, journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/language-barriers-and-patient-encounter/2007-08.

Ploetzke, Monica. “Fibroids: Greater in African-American Women than White. Why?” McLeod Health, 16 Dec. 2019, www.mcleodhealth.org/blog/fibroids-greater-in-african-american-women-than-white-but-why/

N/A “Office of Minority Health.” Home Page – Office of Minority Health (OMH), minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4

N/A. “13 CFR § 124.103 – Who Is Socially Disadvantaged?” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, 0AD, www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/13/124.103.  

N/A. “Cultural Competence in Health Care: Is It Important for People with Chronic Conditions?” Health Policy Institute, 13 Feb. 2019, hpi.georgetown.edu/cultural/

N/A. “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.” American College of Physician , 2010, www.acponline.org/acp_policy/policies/racial_ethnic_disparities_2010.pdf

N/A“Conclusion and Future Directions: CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report – United States, 2013.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6203a32.htm?s_cid=su6203a32_w

N/A“Women of Color Health Data Book.” National Institutes of Health, 2014, orwh.od.nih.gov/sites/orwh/files/docs/WoC-Databook-FINAL.pdf.

Rao, Vidya. “’You Are Not Listening to Me’: Black Women on Pain and Implicit Bias in Medicine.” TODAY.com, 27 July 2020, www.today.com/health/implicit-bias-medicine-how-it-hurts-black-women-t187866

Smith, Marcus T. “Fact Sheet: The State of Asian American Women in the United States.” Center for American Progress, www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2013/11/07/79182/fact-sheet-the-state-of-asian-american-women-in-the-united-states/.

Writers, Staff. “Diversity in Healthcare: How Increased Representation &amp; CLAS Impacts Communities &amp; Improves Care.” EduMed, Www.edumed.org, 27 May 2020, www.edumed.org/medical-careers/diversity-in-healthcare/

University of Southern California. “Healthcare: How Stereotypes Hurt.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 20 Oct. 2015, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151020091344.htm