We often hear the term self-care quite often. Let's face it, when there's a million and one things on your to-do list, self-care is the last thing you think about. The idea of creating time for us to relax and refuel is the first thing that goes.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, self-care is best defined as "the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health". Let me say that again, PRESERVE or IMPROVE one's own health. When we begin our journey to better ourselves, in any aspect of our lives, we can't do so if we aren't taking care of our own needs. We can't succeed at our goals if we are constantly filling other's cups and neglecting our own. Therefore, we must preserve what we do have and nourish the areas that are lacking.
The more we incorporate a form of self-care practice, the better we feel overall. The better we show up in many areas of our lives, the better we show up for others. It's a win - win for everyone. Not to mention, the more we make the time for self-care, the better we get at handling life's stressors that pop up.
Unfortunately, when stressors arrive in our lives (because they most definitely do...often), we tend to put our own needs at the bottom of the list. We are too busy. We don't have time. We sabotage our best interests. It can be tempting to skip a meal, eat more, push ourselves until we are totally exhausted, or generally ignore our basic needs. In the midst of stressful times, a breath of fresh air, eating for fuel, or connecting with someone seems like a waste of time.
At the times we are in the most need to take care of ourselves, we are likely to do the opposite. If you are anything like I was, eventually all the things I was neglecting began to catch up with me. So, when I did have the time, I didn't have the energy. So, I decided if I wanted a healthy mind and a healthy body, it was time to start prioritizing me.
Whether we are in times of stress (when we need to be our best) or not--we should always be prioritizing ourselves. It's not hard work, but smart work that gives fast results.
What I am getting at is, it is up to us to make our own health and well-being a priority. We can't count on others. We can't count on when we feel our best or when the time is right to start. Self-care is the last thing we think about. Let's try to make it the first by trying these simple tips!
1. Identify which area needs the most nourishment (physical, mental, spiritual, or social)
- Physical: taking care of your body in all possible ways through movement, balanced nutrition, hydration, doctor's check-ups, adequate sleep, and our regular hygiene.
- Mental: acknowledging feelings and taking care of them (through counseling, journaling, talking it out, etc), boundaries, saying "no", mindfulness, meditating, praying, and affirmations.
- Spiritual: meditation, gratitude practice, praying, nature walks/hiking, discovering creative outlets, and donating to charities/volunteering.
- Social: spending time with loved ones, reconnecting with old friends, social media detox, letting go of toxic relationships, and boundaries
2. Ask for help
It's okay to ask for help. Whether it's babysitting, finances, therapy, or a cleaner. Do it! Anything to take part of your load off.
3. Ask yourself- how would it would make you feel once you do it
One thing I always ask my clients when we discuss goals or mindset is how it would make them feel once they overcome a task. Who do you see? How do you feel? By visioning your success and how it makes you feel (especially if you have felt it before), you are more likely to want to feel the same way again. Then, once you make it a habit, you feel lost without it.
4. Start small
When you want to achieve anything in life (that will last), start small. Ever tried a diet or exercise program and start out sprinting only to get tired and quit? We lose focus and motivation. When times get tough or we feel stuck, we easily quit. Starting small allows room for growth without feeling as if we are changing our whole life around. It allows us to experience what it is we are trying to accomplish and the benefits that come with it. Start small and work your way up.
5. Focus on what you can do, not what you can't
This kind of goes with the whole starting small idea. We want to set ourselves up for success, not guilt or shame. So, even if it is 5 minutes, you can do anything for that long! Giving ourselves grace and allowing room for success, gives us confidence to keep going.
6. Schedule it
Feel too busy or overwhelmed with schedules and to-do lists? Schedule time for you. Whatever activity it is you need to do, schedule it. Fitting you in is making you a priority. You belong on that to-do list too!
Bonus: Include your littles!
Not only are we showing up for ourselves when we incorporate a nourishing self-care practice, but we are also teaching our little ones that they can do it too. And that it is important to do so. My 3 year old daughter and I have a morning routine of self-care together. This includes our typical brushing teeth, hair, and getting dressed. As well as, journaling and breathing techniques or meditations. It's a fun, energizing activity for her and a fulfilling one for me!
As a Holistic Nutrition & Wellness Coach, I LOVE sharing healthy tips in order to show others how to live to be the best version of themselves. I help individuals live a fulfilled and energetic life through nutrition and mind+body balance. Thanks for stopping by!