There is a lot of buzz lately about self-care and the importance of taking time on a regular basis for reflection and rejuvenation. Most self-care ideas center on small rituals for physical pampering or getting out in nature to refresh your mental outlook. However I believe Self Care is a much deeper issue involving psychological, emotional, financial, and spiritual aspects as well as physical well-being.
I haven’t always valued self care as I do now. My life experience as a single parent, a partner, and a professional woman has taught me that it is a process of growing more aware of my reactions and triggers and becoming more compassionate with myself. Through experience and some hard-won lessons, I have learned that the more I look after and care for myself, the more I am available to care for others. The more I am aware of my feelings, which comes from caring for and loving my body and my physical self, the more richness I experience in life. I think we all grow more conscious as we mature and learn to listen – to our body, to our thoughts, and our emotions. Self care is a process that evolves over time as we come to appreciate our unique self and learn what it needs to grow and expand. Our uniqueness and individuality have to stand strong against self judgment, peer pressure and comparison to others. We are so lucky to be living in these times when knowledge and learning are easily available to us while at the same time we are bombarded with demands from all sides that tempt us to ignore our needs for quiet reflection, good meals and time for self. Self care is something we must prioritize, and the far-reaching benefits will be apparent as we make this essential commitment to our well being.
What does intentional self care mean
Self care is deliberately engaging in restorative activities. It includes any activity that we do intentionally in order to take care of our physical, psychological, emotional, relational and spiritual health. Good self care is key to improved mood and less anxiety.
Self care is not being selfish. Once we take care of ourselves we are better able to take care of others. When you take care of your self in all aspects of life, you will have more energy, more reserve and depth to take care of others at home, at work and in your community. Self care is not something that you force yourself to do or that you don’t enjoy doing. Self care is nurturing yourself, taking care of yourself, honouring the being that you are. Sometimes you do this so that you can look after others more effectively, but primarily, you do it for yourself, to bring more fulfillment and enjoyment to your life and to grow into the best version of yourself that you can be.
What happens when you don’t practice self care
Low energy, feelings of hopelessness, less patience, physical symptoms of stress (headaches, stomach upset, digestive issues), difficulty falling asleep, emotional health symptoms (anger, depression or anxiety), difficulty concentrating, feeling burned out, less motivation are all potential results of ignoring your internal signals that you need to focus on yourself.
This journal begins with looking at both at your inner world and your outer world. Self care requires deeper self reflection and it means much more than just finding time for bubble baths and walks in the park, although that might be part of it.
At any age, you need and deserve time to do things for yourself and to fill your life with rewarding and fulfilling activities. Self care is something you actively plan, it is a conscious choice. Adding self care activities to your calendar, and purposefully looking for ways to practice self care increases the likelihood that you will be able to change your habits and create more healthy routines for self care. Also, telling your plans to others increases your commitment, and finding a partner who will take on similar challenges will increase your success even more.
Schedule your self care time and guard it as sacred. Time blocking is an effective method for managing a busy schedule. This entails blocking out larger chunks of time to do one thing. For example, block out Thursday evenings for housework so you have the weekends free, or block out Sunday afternoons for cooking large meals and preparing lunches for the whole week, to cut down on cooking time during the week. Blocking helps you to concentrate and be more efficient with your time, because you are not jumping from one thing to another trying to get 40 things done at once. Self care can look like blocking out time for a date with your partner, time to spend with women friends regularly, planning exercise or scheduling in some daily alone time.
Another point about time: a positive morning routine will set up your whole day for success. A daily practice of quiet time in the morning, reflective journaling or morning pages, or a meditation practice for even 10 minutes will put you in a mood to approach the day in a positive way.