Self care for people with limited mobility looks a lot like regular old self care with a few twists. Here’s Pride Mobility’s top 10 list of accessible self care tricks.
But first, let’s describe what it is. You might even have your own ideas and routines about how to keep yourself in top shape and feeling good. There’s no silver bullet, and, if we’re honest, some days everybody just feels lousy. And that’s just fine. Just don’t stay there.
The best way out of a rut is to first recognize that you’re in the dumps, then start thinking about ways to climb out.
Self care has undoubtedly become a buzzword these days. Just because it’s in the headline, there’s a good chance lots of people already rolled their eyes and moved on.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re at least curious. Great start!
Self care is a pretty broad term that loops in just about anything we do that improves our wellbeing. Those two things, wellbeing and self care, go hand in hand. Other people might describe it differently. For our purposes here, let’s call self care: “the self-initiated pursuit of wellbeing.” It’s each person taking ownership of their own mental and physical health.
We rely a lot on doctors, friends and therapists to help us feel good. But their jobs get easier if we’re invested partners. That’s a good place to start.
1. Check your diet
No mystery here. We are what we eat. Wholesome foods rich in fiber, free from additives, make us feel great. Diets with too much red meat, sugar and preservatives make us feel lethargic and cloudy.
That’s not to say skip all the sweets entirely. But search for balance. Eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in one sitting to self-soothe might make you feel better in the moment, but you’ll probably feel worse afterward.
Make smart decisions about what you eat. You won’t regret it.
2. Keep moving
For people with limited mobility, this one might be a challenge. Our prehistoric ancestors were always on the go. It’s how they survived. Their bodies adapted for a near-constant state of motion, and we’re geared the same way.
To the best of your ability, break up your day with stretching and light exercises. If you have a disability, talk to your doctor or other clinician about starting a routine and about what kinds of movements are safe.
Get yourself a fitness tracker and try to hit movement goals every day. You’ll feel good about hitting your goals, and your body and mind will simply work better.
3. Own your mental health
Easier said than done. Sometimes it’s hard to identify when we need to work on our own sense of being. But just like our bodies, our minds need regular training.
Mindfulness and meditation (albeit a few other buzzwords currently in vogue) help us tap into our state of mind and identify where we might be slipping.
Check in with yourself — daily — and you’ll be better informed about any issues that might be lurking under the surface.
4. Get enough sleep
Adults need at least seven hours every night. Kids need more. The other nine of these tips simply come easier when you’re well rested.
5. Balance your relationships
Take inventory of the relationships in your life that build you up. Find the ones that don’t and ask what it would take to pull back from them.
We can’t cut out all of the bad relationships in our lives. For example, a troublesome sibling or nosy neighbor. But we can raise healthy boundaries that protect our wellbeing from them.
It’s important not to get rude or inconsiderate in this exercise. You don’t want to become the problem for others that you’re trying to eradicate for yourself.
This takes work, but remember, for the most part, it’s not your job to fix other people unless they’re a physical danger to themselves or others. It’s your job to work on you. That’s enough.
6. Talk to other people about how you feel
We’re social creatures. Cooperation is how those prehistoric ancestors we described earlier survived. Once you’ve done the work in trick 5, and pegged the relationships that build you up, develop a rapport with those people.
Talking about what’s bugging us or important to us helps organize our brains.
That person might be a therapist, which works, too! We need to communicate with others about personal things. That way we’re not carrying burdens on our own.
7. Embrace the limits of your mobility and learn to thrive in spite of it
This might be the most complicated of the steps. There’s no getting around it: limited mobility is part of our character. People will perceive the disability as part of us. We can’t change that.
But when we show others that we’re working on ourselves in spite of disability, they learn to recognize us for our other traits. We know it’s working when we inspire others to become the best version of themselves, too.
8. Give yourself space
We’re all human. We’ve all got quirks and weaknesses somewhere. Anyone who appears not to is simply great at masking it.
While you don’t want to let disability define you, as we explained in trick 7, we also need to let it exist for what it is.
Trick 1 advised against eating a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s in a single sitting. It’s also a great example of an exception. Sometimes, we just need to eat the whole thing.
9. Try new things
If you live with limited mobility, it’s easy to see new experiences, hobbies, relationships or destinations as out of reach. That’s usually a bad headspace unless that fear is keeping us safe. Few disabilities are such that exploring and growing is unattainable.
Maybe you’re good with your hands, or have a real knack for philosophy. Try a new craft, teach yourself photography, or become a regular contributor on a Reddit philosophy thread.
The internet is overflowing with lots of ideas and communities of people who are doing and talking about fascinating things. Poke around for a while. You might find your next muse. And when you get that under your belt, go look for the next thing.
10. Pursue things that give you purpose
Finally, find activities, relationships and groups that make you feel connected and fulfilled.
This might feel like a sort of a catchall for the other nine tricks, but it’s worth it’s own spot. We all need to feel like we have a purpose on this planet. If not, things start to feel utterly bleak real fast.
When we put our attention and effort into things that make us better, we find meaning. It makes us better people for ourselves, and, by extension, for everyone else. Even with limited mobility, we can make a difference in the lives of others.