My daughter is a firm advocate for self-care and a few years back, when we met up for coffee one morning, we spoke at length about the importance of self-care. We all tend to forget ourselves when it comes to giving love, respect, and honor. It seems so much easier to give to others.
We think it’s being selfish, self-centered, or even arrogant to love ourselves but if we don't give ourselves love, how can we honestly give love to others in a healthy and meaningful way?
Read on as I talk more about self-care, why it's important, and the key benefits of giving yourself loving-kindness care (my own definition of self-care). I'll also be sharing a list of my own self-care practices to show you how easy it's actually is to be responsible for your own health.
What is Self-Care and Why is It Important?
The WHO 1998 definition of self-care is:
‘Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure, etc), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.’
Self-care is the act of doing something for yourself that is good and healthy for you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. While it's not the ultimate cure for serious illnesses and diseases, you're building up resistance to many health problems.
You're not being selfish when you give yourself self-care. If anything, self-care is crucial for our physical, mental, emotional, and soul health. Self-care grounds us. It brings balance, harmony, and peace into our own lives, something that's not easy to find in our ever-crazy hectic lives.
Think about it – when we're feeling calm, loved and safe we're more willing and able to show compassion and empathy towards others. By practicing self-care, you're not only looking out for yourself but you're looking out for all the others that need your love, calmness, and kindness.
3 Key Benefits of Self-Care
There are many benefits to practicing self-care but here are three key advantages of giving yourself loving care.
Key Benefit #1: Better Coping Skills
By practicing regular acts of self-care, you're increasing your ability to cope with the many daily stressors you face in your life. Think of all the things that happen every day that cause you to get stressed. Here are some ideas:
Your boss nagging you for THAT report!
A constant bombardment of emails and Whatsapp messages.
Caring for aging parents or little children.
Running a home.
By giving yourself a time-out, which is a great way to practice self-care, you're allowing your body to take a break from the daily stressors. By rejuvenating your body and mind, you'll be better equipped to handle the stress of everyday living. Time-out could be a 10 minutes walk outdoors, five minutes of meditation, or a full day of rest.
Key Benefit #2: Better Management of Anxiety and Depression
Acts of self-care are hugely beneficial when you're prone to anxiety attacks or bouts of depression. Instead of forcing yourself to go to THAT social function you know is going to freak you out, you can choose to relax at home with your dog. That's showing yourself loving-kindness.
On days when you feel too depressed to achieve THAT goal, finish THAT report, or simply can't face being cheerful, take a time-out and curl up with a book. Self-care is when you recognize you need your own space to deal with whatever is getting you down.
By showing yourself some gentle loving-kindness, you can build up your resilience to face the world again. By putting together your own self-care kit, you can have something to turn to during the times when depression and anxiety take over. All you have to do is open the box and treat yourself to some self-care.
Key Benefit #3: Overall Sense of Wellbeing
By giving yourself self-care, you're taking responsibility for your overall sense of wellbeing. You acknowledge only you can ensure your physical body and mental state of mind are healthy. Acts of self-care can include the following:
Taking care of your personal hygiene.
Eating a healthy diet.
Taking care of your personal development.
Seeing a medical professional for regular check-ups and whenever you're not feeling well.
Getting enough sleep every night.
These are only some of the things you can do to practice self-care and I've listed below my own practices to give you some more ideas.
My List of Self-Care Practices
Every evening I go into my Place of Wellness room and meditate. Meditation allows me to quieten my mind, soothe the anxieties that may have arisen during the day, and gives me a sense of grounding, calm, and peace.
Three years ago I discovered yoga (better late than never!). Frankly, I am blown away by the tranquillity that yoga brings to me as well as the deep connection with my own body. I can feel my body responding, with joy, as I gently stretch it.
I start my day with a fresh, healthy smoothie full of yummy fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. By feeding my body with healthy food I believe I am showing myself respect, honor, and love.
This Ninja Personal Blender for Smoothies should give you some really tasty drinks in the mornings (or any time of the day!).
I love walking. I could walk for hours if I had the choice but even fifteen minutes is enough to lift my soul and raise my energy levels. I always aim to have a walk at least once a day. Being outdoors lifts my soul and physical activity is good for increasing those serotonin levels.
Whenever possible, I dive into a book. This is one way I can give myself “me time” that allows me to escape from the outside world for a little while and rest my mind. I find this activity particularly beneficial when I'm facing extra stresses in my life and need to chill for a while.
I recommend everyone finds a kinesiologist! Whenever my body, mind, and soul need a bit of rejuvenation and balancing, I call on my favorite kinesiologist to sort me out! Taking a couple of hours out to release blocked energies is one of the best ways you can give yourself some self-care.
We take on negative energy, often without even realizing it. In order to cleanse myself of any negative energy sitting in my body, I give myself a regular smudge. Cleansing rituals are beneficial for the mind, body, and soul so make sure you cleanse often.
Try out these Blissful Organic White Sage Smudge Sticks the next time you perform a cleansing ritual for yourself.
Sitting in My Garden
There is something very soothing about the energy of trees and when I can, I go and sit in my little garden full of trees, soaking up their healing energy. I also love to watch the birds at the feeder or taking a bath in the birdbath. Connecting with nature is a simple but highly effective way of giving yourself some self-care.
Spending Time With Special People
This also includes my dog! I have a small circle of very special people that feed my soul, either through their laughter, their magic energy, or their love. Make sure you spend quality time with those who matter to you. Connecting with other people has been shown to improve your moods, give you better interpersonal skills, and better coping skills for everyday challenges.
Writing in My Journal
My journal gives me permission to pour out all my emotions in a safe space. It also gives me a way to tackle problems and come up with solutions. Spend at least five minutes every day writing in your journal. You could also start a gratitude journal in which you capture ten things you're grateful for every day.
I love this Tree of Life Journal from Peter Pauper Press.
Soaking in a hot bath, having a cappuccino by myself in a coffee shop, taking a day off work, and doing my own thing at home are all things I enjoy doing alone. Alone time gives me breathing space to gather myself when life gets a bit too much!
Respecting My Values
This is a biggie for me and quite challenging at times when life happens. My values are important to me and they guide me on my pursuit to find a life that's true for me. By listing your own personal core values, you can start to live a life that is true for YOU.
With every client I work with, I strongly emphasize the importance of using self-care as a way of loving oneself. I encourage my clients to identify simple but effective ways of practicing self-care on a regular basis.
Self-care needn’t mean taking a long holiday (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!) nor taking a whole day off (if you do, just make sure that you don’t end up feeling guilty because there’s work to be done).
Self-care can be as simple as running a hot bath using your favorite fragrant fizz balls, candles, soft music, and shutting the door so you can soak in bliss and silence for half an hour. It’s about choosing healthy food, taking a brisk walk alone in a park, or spending time in your favorite place.
How do you practice self-care in your own life? Make a list and then choose to love yourself. You deserve it.
This post was originally published on April 8th, 2021, and reposted on February 4th, 2022.
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