Self-Care Before and After Bariatric Surgery

Self-Care Before and After Bariatric Surgery

Most of us have heard a flight attendant give their spiel about giving yourself oxygen first, before supplying it to your children. The basic premise makes sense: we are not capable of taking care of others if we don’t first take good care of ourselves.

So what exactly is self-care? It essentially means paying attention to our own physical and emotional needs and taking positive steps to care for ourselves. The problem is when life gets stressful and we get busy taking care of other people’s needs, we often stop taking care of ourselves. If we start making self-care a daily habit, however, we are more likely to continue taking care of ourselves when life gets hectic and we most need it.

Some of the most important areas of self-care practice include:

Nutrition: As you most likely already know, good nutrition is vital for weight loss after surgery. In addition, eating healthy foods helps you feel better and be more energetic. Much like an Olympic athlete only puts the cleanest, most nutritious foods in their body, you need good nutritional intake in order to be your best. Avoid all processed foods and be sure to fuel your body with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Physical Activity: You’ve heard all about exercise for weight loss but it is very important to mental health as well. Your body produces hormones when it encounters
stress. You are genetically designed to burn off those stress hormones through physical activity. Research has indicated that regular moderate exercise can be as effective as therapy or medication for reducing stress related anxiety and depression.

Calming Your Mind: Many of us are challenged by a racing mind that doesn’t want to shut off and often pulls us in directions we don’t want to go. One of the most effective practices for calming the mind is called “mindfulness.” The general premise is based on focusing your thoughts on something in the “here and now”, instead of letting your mind race around thinking about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Many people close their eyes and focus on taking slow, deep breaths and concentrating on their bodily sensations. Others might focus on observing all the features of their outdoor environment, such as the details of a tree, the sounds of birds, and the sensation of the sun shining on their face.

Sleep: Often pushed to the back seat, sleep is one of our most critical health functions. It enables the neurons in our brains to operate effectively so that we can process and remember information. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body including the brain, heart, lungs, metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance. Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

Connectedness: We are very much tribal creatures. 10,000 years ago we did everything together from raising our children to hunting to protecting the tribe from predators. We are designed to be with others and are happy, healthier, and more productive when we are with other people. According to researchers at Stanford University strong social connection:
– leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity
– strengthens your immune system
– improves immune function
– reduces inflammation
– helps you recover from disease faster

Help yourself to ensure a high probability of success with your bariatric procedure. Take the steps necessary to take good care of yourself. In doing so you will likely be more successful post-surgically as well as healthier, happier, more productive, and better able to care for those you love.

By: Charles J. Biebel, Ph.D

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