What does self-care really mean? Initially, we think of the spa, essential oils, and taking a nap. All very welcome ideas, but I think it can go a bit deeper than that. I wonder how we can truly care for others if we don’t care for ourselves. In other words, to fill the cup of others, we must first fill our own. That sentiment may raise some resistance at first, isn’t it selfish or lazy? In my experience, no, it’s essential. Holding ourselves to a higher standard, knowing what’s important, living by your beliefs, and holding yourself accountable are all types of self-care.
SELF-CARE IS ACTUALLY BEING A GROWN-UP.
Let’s take a look at a line-up of self-care ideas:
1. EATING WELL:
A healthy diet sets the foundation for a strong body, mind, and spirit. It’s an obvious one but requires commitment and planning. For instance, having a delicious soup ready in the freezer on a chaotic weeknight negates the necessity of dialing for a less than stellar takeaway.
A restful night’s slumber between some good quality sheets always puts things into perspective and makes everything seem rosier. If you’re interested in the science behind sleep, check out Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. As they say, “sleep is the best medicine” and he tells you how to get it.
3. SETTING BOUNDARIES:
Are you a chronic people pleaser? I used to be too. Learning to say “No, I’m so sorry, I can’t” and not feeling you have to give a reason is life-changing. It’s important not to let other people make you feel guilty about this. You know what’s going on with you, they don’t!
4. TAKE TIME OUT:
Taking a break throughout the day replenishes lost energy. Going for a stroll, sitting in a park, meeting a friend for tea or coffee are all forms of self-care. Figuring out what works for you is key.
5. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY:
Whether it’s possessions, food, or friendships, the golden rule of quality over quantity always wins. Frankly, a lot of cheap clutter is exhausting. A few beautiful things are uplifting.
6. ALONE TIME OR SOCIAL BUTTERFLY?
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Know thyself! Introverts like me need time alone to restore, extroverts need just the opposite to replenish themselves. Honor your needs.
7. PODCAST, BOOK, OR MOVIE:
Give yourself the gift of a time out to enjoy your very own brand of entertainment. This just needs to speak to you, no one else. To take it to the next level try listening, reading, or watching in a bubble bath ????
8. START A HOBBY:
Find a topic that has always interested you and give it a go! Watercolors, gardening, learning the tango, paddleboarding, wood carving – whatever piques your interest.
9. STAYING WITHIN YOUR BUDGET:
Self-care is not buying something you can’t afford. It’s more about feeling secure in your financial world. Get to know your finances and where you stand. Educate yourself if necessary, check out The Dow Janes they’re fabulous!
10. ENJOYING NATURE:
There’s a reason the Japanese “forest bathe.” Being in nature’s healing balm is a tonic for the senses. I’m so fortunate to have a large rescue boy that needs plenty of walkies. He’s my excuse to spend time in the woods.
My secret to exercising is doing what I enjoy – walking in nature. It’s one of those things that most of us will do anything to avoid but feel so much better when it’s done. Making it non-negotiable, like walking my enormous dog who will eat my cushions if I don’t take him, makes me do it. If the gym is your thing – bravo! Perhaps it’s jogging, yoga, or rowing – it all comes back to “know thyself.”
Meditation is free and available to all. The most helpful piece of advice I was given regarding meditation was; “Don’t try to empty your mind, just don’t attach to the thoughts.” Plus allowing yourself 5 minutes of quiet time is just fine and a lot more achievable than 30. Here’s a link to the Calm App to get you started.
Getting your thoughts from your head down on paper can be an enormous release for the mind. It’s amazing what you write when you get going. It can become the most lovely ritual. Light a candle, pour a cup of tea, treat yourself to a beautiful journal and let your thoughts flow.
14. DECORATING YOUR HOME:
Having a home that reflects who you are and works beautifully for you is the ultimate in self-care. Taking time to achieve the home of your dreams is worth the effort. I’m not suggesting you need a large expensive house filled with priceless antiques. Rather it’s about being surrounded by the things that you love, that really means something to you, and having everything well organized. It’s about comfort. As Jane Austen said, “There’s nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”
15. MOVING THROUGH FEAR AND DOUBT:
Fear and doubt can be insidious. They can hold us back from our true potential if we allow them. Self-care is a kind of bravery, we don’t let ourselves fold like a cheap piece of lawn furniture in the face of a stiff breeze. Self-care teaches us to stand our ground, dig deep and become the empowered person we are destined to be.
Investing in ourselves gives us the strength, wisdom, and fortitude to give our best to others. What are your strategies for self-care? Do let me know what works for you, I would love to hear!