Self-Care & Mindfulness

Friday, July 24, 2020 - 12:30pm

Pamela Mirsky, MD, Mindfulness Clinic DirectorInternational Self-Care Day (ISD), is celebrated annually on 24 July (24/7!) and provides a focus and opportunity to raise the profile of healthy lifestyle self-care programs around the world. ISD is a device developed by the International Self-Care Foundation to promote self-care as a vital foundation of health. The seven pillars of self-care include: Knowledge & Health Literacy; Mental Wellbeing, Self-awareness & Agency; Physical Activity; Healthy Eating; Risk avoidance or mitigation; Good Hygiene; Rational & responsible use of self-care products & services. 

We spoke with Banner – University physician and Psychiatry Department faculty member Pamela Mirsky, MD, FACLP, Director of the Banner – University Medical Center South Mindfulness Clinic about self-care, mindfulness, how they work together, and about mindfulness-based treatments offered at the Banner-University Medical Center Mindfulness Clinic.

What are the practical benefits of self-care, for both mental and physical health? 

Self-care is just shorthand for taking care of yourself. When phrased this way, one can see that the benefits become obvious. If we actively care for ourselves, our mental and physical health will improve.

What are some of the most basic, yet most overlooked and/or under-appreciated, elements of self-care? 

It is often believed that taking care of yourself is a selfish act. It is not! It is imperative for us to care of ourselves so that we can be fully present, helpful and loving to the other people with whom we interact or spend our lives. Self-care also does not have to be dramatic or require a lot of time and resources. Caring for yourself can be done in the smallest of ways. Maybe it’s taking a few deep breaths in between tasks or taking some time alone for just two minutes. We all have to discover for ourselves what it is we need in order to recharge and be healthy. Though there are things that are universally helpful, such as physical exercise, for example, the means, quality and quantity will vary from person to person depending on their individual abilities, preferences and options. A helpful way of bringing self-care into your life is to frequently remember to ask yourself, “What do I need for myself?” or “How can I best take care of myself?”

How can mindfulness help create a practice of self-care? 

Mindfulness helps us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings and body sensations, and as a result we can become more attuned to what we need in each moment, and then make choices that are aligned with these needs. And mindfulness begins to allow us to hold our experiences with equanimity, and to gradually develop a more loving, kind attitude towards ourselves. It is a practice! It takes time and effort to develop new ways of relating to and caring for ourselves.

What are some of the mindfulness-based treatments offered at your clinic? 

In the Mindfulness Clinic we offer individual appointments for mindfulness-based psychotherapy, as well as the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) group for depression. There are both formal and informal mindfulness practices. Formal practices include sitting meditation, body scan, and mindful movement. The informal practice involves introducing a mindful attitude into daily activities, such as eating, brushing your teeth, interacting with others, etc.

How can mindfulness and self-care help address mental health issues? 

Mindfulness-based treatments have been adopted and used to treat pain, addiction, eating disorders, depression and anxiety, amongst other difficulties. MBCT in particular is designed for individuals with a history of depression and is one of the most widely used and researched mindfulness-based treatments. Clinical research has demonstrated MBCT to be as effective as antidepressants in reducing relapse of depression. As evidence accumulates for the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions, some countries have even included these interventions in their clinical guidelines. For example, within the National Health Service in the UK, MBCT has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence as a treatment of choice for people with relapsing depression.

Visit Banner – University Medical Center Mindfulness Clinic to learn more about what our clinic offers.