Historically, according to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 40% of premature deaths from major diseases could be prevented with lifestyle modifications. In addition, most illnesses are stress-related. These figures don’t even take into account the Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in a higher proportion of severe illness and death from the disease among individuals with pre-existing health conditions. While obviously not all health problems are preventable, these figures should scare you if you are not managing your lifestyle adequately.

We now have the science to know that what we put in our bodies and how we treat them are major determinations of health. Among the general principles for healthy living are such factors as practicing proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, getting adequate sleep, not smoking, limiting alcohol use, managing stress, and having fun.

Knowing what we know about these things leads to the obvious conclusion that Self-Care is not selfish. Society rewards self-sacrifice in order to serve our employer, community, and family without recognizing that there is also a reward available for Self-Care. That reward is good health and enhanced longevity. Under these circumstances, it is important to recognize that your ability to serve your family and community and to do your job well is enhanced if you aren’t sick very much.

There is no honor in selfishly neglecting your responsibilities to others because they are time consuming or hard, but there is also no honor in neglecting yourself. There are too many people lying in facilities and needing to be cared for by others because of conditions that could have been prevented by adequate Self-Care.

I recommend that you do an inventory of your Self-Care practices. Start with what I call the “Non-negotiable 4”: Healthy eating; Owning your body through exercise, adequate sleep, and meditation; Keeping the brain active; Staying socially connected. I encourage you to program non-negotiable time each week (if not every day) for each of those activities.

You may be surprised to find out 2 things: (1) that you will actually be able to fit Self-Care into your schedule; (2) how good it makes you feel. The long-term health benefits will also be pretty impressive.

Ron Kaiser, Ph.D. Psychologist, Educator, Author, Podcaster

Ron Kaiser, Ph.D., is a positive health psychologist, coach, author, podcaster, educator, consultant, and speaker. He has been in practice for more than five decades, including 25 years as Director of Psychology at the world-famous Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University. As an innovative thought leader in the field, he has developed the concepts of THE MENTAL HEALTH GYM, GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY (GAP), THE TYPE P PERSONALITY, and REJUVENAGING®.

Tagged: , ,