I am excited about this opportunity to contribute to the Live Your Life Blog. I am hopeful that you will gain something from this self care challenge!
With many preparing for Holiday celebrations filled with shopping, food, and family, there comes with this the inevitable stress that leads to decisions that we come to regret and come up with resolutions to combat in January. In addition to this, COVID-19 remains in the forefront of many people’s lives bringing with it illness, isolation, and bitterness that puts a damper on our spirits and is harmful to our health: physically, mentally, and even spiritually. So, the first mention of embracing self care is easy to disregard. We all are I’m sure familiar with the self talk, “I’m too busy for that” or “I’ll get to that sometime later.” But maybe we should realize that this is when we need to address self care the most. I recently listened to a podcast from Jimmy McKay’s PT Pintcast titled: “Three Insights You Need From an FBI Hostage Negotiator” (December 02, 2021) that discussed how to engage clients about making behavior changes being asking “No” questions. (“Would you be against…) And I think it is applicable to self care as my question to you the reader is: “Would you be against doing something small to positively nudge your health and your stress in the right direction? Would you be against trying something different over the next 30 days to improve your self care?” With this in mind, I helped create a 30 day self care challenge.
The background for this started in 2020 when the pandemic began. At that time, one of my colleagues with APTA Michigan suggested that we consider starting a chapter task force to address how the pandemic was negatively impacting PT and PTA professionals within her circle. The task force used SoMe to address self care problems and the work continues to this day. In addition to my service to the chapter, I have also been active with the Academy of Prevention and Health Promotion Therapies (APHPT) which focuses on population health and upstream strategies to improving overall health. A cornerstone to this tribe is a focus on strategies to address what we call, “The Elements” #MOVE #FUEL #RECOVER #ENDURE #CONNECT. If you look at the research relating to improving the health of populations you will find that there is ample evidence to support interventions to improve physical activity, diet, sleep, coping/stress mediation, and interactions/relationships with those around you. Obviously, use of strategies to address the elements also have a strong impact on the individual level. Within the academy, we frequently test various strategies personally so that we know their impact when we share them with our clients.
Within both of these groups I created separate 30 day challenges tailored toward each group with input from a number of my awesome colleagues. One of these challenges was posted on Twitter and caught the eye of Eva Norman, who has given me the chance to bring to Life Your Life. So here it is:
Many of the self care activities included within the 30 day self care challenge come from my experiences within the APHPT community. You will see that it is organized by the elements. Each week starts with a move challenge to be completed 2x that week followed by fuel, recover, endure, and connect challenges and ending with a 5 and 7 day challenge that serve as circuit breakers to change your routine and habits. You can either complete this sequentially or bingo style. You pick what works for you but try to start a new activity each day.
Let’s get into the details as there may be some things that you are not familiar with. The move challenges have at their core getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. The 7 minute workout, available as a smartphone app, is a High Intensity Interval workout with 12 activities completed for 30” with 10” rest in between. The Tabata activities are similar with 20” activity followed by 10” of rest. Please dance to Staying Alive and shadow box to Rocky. Each video is 4 minute but see if you can repeat and do it for 8 minutes.
The fuel challenges are both abstaining and trying something new as do the sleep challenges. The endure challenges include a relaxation breathing activity to slow your breathing down (4” inhale-6” hold-8” exhale and repeat continually). Try checking your blood pressure or heart rate before and after for an extra challenge, you might be surprised! I also have the Headspace link (another with an app option) for short guide meditation. Try the Basics course. Finally, I’ve included a component that involves relationships with those around you. Maybe you’ve tried some of these things before, maybe not. There are strategies that address all the elements in some way or another. I’ve found that many of these challenges have helped me personally and given the opportunity, they may be helpful for you to make some small changes. If you give them a try, you may be surprised at how little things can truly be transformative. We often think about the things that we want to change in our lives but reflecting on how we want to improve is just not effective in promoting change. You need to put this into practice and this challenge is meant to do just that.
With this in mind, I take us back to the question: Would you be against participating in this 30 day challenge? Despite this being a busy time of year, there is never truly a better time to start. Now is the time to light a candle for yourself! I hope that you will consider putting this into practice and embrace your own self care!
Edward Mathis, PT, DPT
P.S. I like to thank Eva Norman, an awesome PT colleague from Minnesota who is also deeply committed to promoting health and wellness to her clients, who encouraged me to write this blog.
Edward is a Physical Therapist and guest blogger from Beecher, Wisconsin. He works in a rural hospital providing acute care PT in Iron Mountain, Michigan and is a double alum of The University of Saint Augustine for Health Sciences. He is very active in serving his profession at the state and national level in many capacities and is currently the President of APTA Michigan and Treasurer of APTA Acute Care. He is also an active member and Elements Ambassador for the Academy of Prevention and Health Promotion Therapies. Edward has a zeal for promoting self care and wellness strategies both with patients and other health care professionals and also tells Dad jokes every day at work. He enjoys cycling, walking, kayaking and competes from time to time in spring triathlons. He also serves as the subdeacon for St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Iron Mountain and is in the process of completing the St. Stephen’s Certificate in Orthodox Theology. Edward has been happily married to his wife Michelle for over 20 years and has three children: Eric, Kyan, and Caroline.
30 Day Challenge Resources:
7 minute workout: (also available on other platforms) https://apps.apple.com/us/app/7-minute-workout/id650762525
Staying Alive Tabata: Dancing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aP_URiyodI
Rocky Tabata: Shadow Boxing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDq-lPbd_Bg