Self-care can take many forms, but it needs nourishment. Did you ever consider how mind and body are connected? A healthy thought is likely to stimulate positive well-being behaviors. Physical activity, good sleep and preventative care practices produce healthy bodies and minds.

There are many ways we can nourish ourselves. One is as simple as getting some sunlight, which produces Vitamin D for our skin. Vitamin D isn’t just good for bone health, it’s also shown to have immune boosting effects and mental health enhancement.

As sunlight becomes less plentiful during the winter, you should talk to your health care team about ways to add this vitamin and others through supplements, or foods, such as egg yolks and fatty fish. Nourishing the body with these essential vitamins can contribute to a consistently happier mood.

This is important because a study by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that the average American spends 93% of their time indoors. Our bodies are not meant to be shut off from nature in this way.

In fact, spending time in nature – whether hiking up a mountain, walking in a forest or park, or relaxing on a beach – are other approaches to nourishing the body. “Forest bathing,” which came from Japan in the 1980s, sounds like a strange idea, but it is simply spending time in nature absorbing the scents and sights. Being in the elements and mindfully noticing everything can have a positive impact. Forest bathing has been shown to lower blood pressure and stress hormones. It can be practiced in a variety of outdoor settings, including urban parks, nature trails or a neighborhood lake.

As you begin to think of ways that you can practice nourishing yourself, why not start by noticing your breathing? Join Brandon Yabko, Ph.D. from Salt Lake City VA Medical Center for this 12-minute mindfulness of breath activity and drop into your body. Prepare to connect with your breath and your body in a brand-new way.

To learn more about the self-care area of food and drink, visit: Food & Drink – Whole Health (

By Tosha Ellis, Ph.D., LCSW, BCD is a field implementation team consultant with the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

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Published on Dec. 20, 2021

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