There has been a lot of talk of self-care recently which got me to thinking of what exactly is self care and just how necessary is it really? We see lots of beautiful images of young, slim women having manicures, facials and of their gorgeous, inviting bubble baths strewn with rose petals. Is this self-care? Is my self-care somehow inadequate if it doesn’t match up to this?
On a fundamental level self-care is taking care of our self – we all have physical needs that we must attend to – eating well, drinking enough water, keeping active and getting enough sleep. I believe that self-care is something that should be accessible to everybody and that, contrary to what social media might lead us to believe it is not all about pampering ourselves. Something as simple as being able to say no to a social engagement that you don’t want to attend or taking time to yourself to go for a walk are perfect examples of taking care of you.
Self care is not optional – it is necessary for our ability to be present, be kind, be the person that we want to be for our loved ones. Essentially it enables us to be the best version of ourselves. We need to take time to cultivate some self care habits every day to ensure that we can be our best selves – mentally, physically and emotionally. Below are some self care habits for mind, body and soul.
Self care habits for the mind
- Pay attention to something that you usually do on autopilot, such as brushing your teeth, and take your time to do it mindfully, noticing how it feels.
- Meditate – if you don’t have much time then just take a moment for a mini-meditation to observe your thoughts and feelings, then focus on your breathing and finally bring your awareness to your body as a whole noticing any areas of tension and seeing if you can bring softness to these areas.
- Unplug for an hour – take a break from your phone, tablet, emails and social media for an hour and try to spend that time being present in the activities that you are doing.
- Remove any negative people from your social media feed (if you don’t want to delete them then mute them)
Self care habits for the body
- Yoga (a practice for mind, body and soul and it will give you a good opportunity to take time for yourself)
- Dance – Take up a dance class or dance in private as if nobody is watching – I promise you will feel better afterwards.
- Walk – A walk in nature is just beautiful but if it isn’t practical then get outside and walk anyway – it will do you the world of good.
- Take a nap
- Inhale an upbeat smell like citrus or peppermint
Self care habits for the soul
- Imagine that you are your own best friend – tell yourself some of the amazing things about you
- Check in with your emotions – sit still and name your feelings without judging.
- Enjoy regular yoga and/or meditation practices
- Choose to spend time with people who make you feel good.
- Take time to do things that you enjoy.
By paying attention to your own self-care you will feel more connected to yourself and to those around you. There is evidence that self-care activities can activate the parasympathetic nervous system meaning that your body goes into a restful, rejuvenating mode helping to boost the immune system so with better self care comes fewer colds and flus. When you regularly take time to attend to your own times you are sending a message to your subconscious that you matter which can go a long way towards helping to discourage negative self talk and promote more positive self-esteem. Self-care gives you the resources that you need to be compassionate to others – as the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.