July 24 is International Self-Care Day

The beginning of this week marked International Self-Care Day (Mon., July 24), a day of self-awareness that often goes unnoticed, and is most definitely underrated.

But the proof is in the pudding.

Lifestyle diseases – like heart attacks, strokes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – represent 63 per cent of all annual deaths worldwide.

These diseases cause an estimated 36 million deaths every year out of the global total of 57 million, according to a recent World Health Organization report.

In industrialized countries, this figure is much higher – 88 per cent of deaths in the case of Canada, for example.

And the trend is getting worse, with deaths from lifestyle diseases projected to increase by 15 per cent globally by 2020.

The aim of Self-Care Day – which in Canada and the United States stretches July into Self-Care Month – is to raise public awareness of the importance of practicing a healthy lifestyle to prevent or delay illnesses.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has named seven pillars of self-care that encourages well-being: health literacy (learning about your health), self-awareness (knowing your body and when something is wrong), physical activity, healthy eating, risk avoidance (quitting smoking and using sunscreen, for example), good hygiene, and responsible use of products and services (like accessing healthcare when you need it).

Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress, and maintain and enhance our short and longer-term health.

It’s not self-indulgence, which can be settling for a temporary and largely symbolic fix – something that can cause you more stress in the long run.

It also means balancing work, family, and personal life – which has increasingly become an even more challenging feat for this busy society.

But, like everything, it all comes down to moderation.

Take a day off work. Go for a walk after dinner. Disconnect from social media for a day. Take up that hobby you’ve been putting off. Just spend some time with yourself!

It all adds up. Making sure you check in with yourself regularly – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually – can be the difference between health and happiness, and burning yourself out on both ends.