Self-Care Practices That You Should Use Throughout Your Life
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach & Life Strategies and Stress Management Coach
It won't matter how much you try to manage or relieve your stress if you aren't practicing self-care on a day-to-day basis throughout your life in every aspect of your life.
What's the point of meditating, after all, if you're not getting enough sleep?
You're more likely to find yourself nodding off during your meditation time if you aren't getting the rest you need.
The same goes for exercising at the gym once a week. Why bother if you aren't going to practice good eating habits to get the nutrients you need throughout the week?
Before you can relieve or manage your stress, you have to meet your basic needs first.
"Self-care" means you take specific actions that promote your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Self-care is a necessary building block to building your life's very foundations.
To overcome life's stressors, we have to build resilience. And you can't build resilience without practicing self-care. You are much better equipped to deal with life when you have taken consistent steps to care for yourself every single day.
Too many people think that self-care is a luxury that is for other people. Or worse, they may mistake self-care for being selfish. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
Self-care is not a luxury.
Self-care is a basic human need. Without it, you will wind up feeling tired and overwhelmed with life all the time. Additionally, you will be unable to deal with the challenges and changes that life throws at you.
If you aren't sure where to start, here are some self-care activities you might consider adopting.
You must take care of your body's needs if you want your body to continue to function well.
Let's also not overlook the fact that there is a definite link between your mind and body. So, acting in your body's best interests will improve your mental health as well.
Physical self-care isn't just about exercise, either. It also has to do with the fuel [food] you choose, the amount of sleep you get, and seeing the doctor regularly for wellness checks.
When dealing with physical self-care, ask yourself if you're getting enough sleep. Are you eating the right kind of food? Are you getting regular exercise, both aerobic and weight training? If the answer to any or all of these questions is "no," then ask yourself what you can do right now to start making changes in your life.
The thoughts you think regularly go a long way toward establishing your mental well-being.
Keep your mind sharp by completing puzzles and reading books.
Watch content that inspires and sparks creativity in you.
Choose activities that will help you stay healthy mentally. That means accepting yourself and practicing some self-compassion.
Do you deliberately challenge yourself mentally?
If not, perhaps it is time to start. It's a good idea to be proactive when taking care of your mental well-being.
Socialization is Part of Self-Care
Your social health requires self-care, too. It's often one of the most natural aspects of our lives to ignore, however. Life gets busy, and it's hard to keep up with friends.
It's crucial to your overall health and well-being, however, that you maintain close connections with others. Engage in social activities that stimulate your thinking and your outlook on life.
Are you keeping up with friends in person or just on Facebook? You need to get out and see people, interacting with them in person. You should take measures to nurture your friendships.
Your spiritual nature is as important as your physical, mental, and social aspects. Every civilization since the beginning of time has developed a belief system.
There are numerous belief systems around the world. Regardless of your religious affiliation or belief, make time in your life to stay in touch with your Higher Power.
Most people feel better when they feel a sense of connection as opposed to feeling isolated.
Practice meditation or prayer--or both--every day. Embrace the mystery that is all around us in a universe that is more complex than we can begin to comprehend. We are each a part of this complex universe.
Stay in touch with your spiritual nature and feel some of your stress automatically subside.
We all need to develop coping skills to address negative emotions. Sadness, anxiety, and anger are natural parts of life, but they will eat at you from the inside if you don't know how to cope with them in healthy ways.
Practice emotional self-care by doing activities that address your rawest emotions. Maybe it's time to make a trip to see the therapist to talk things through with a professional. Or perhaps just talking it out with a friend will do. Whichever strategy works for you, don't hold those emotions in and let them fester. Be proactive and get the help you need to deal with them in healthy ways.
When considering emotional self-care, think about how you process your emotions. Do you express them or hold on to them? Do you talk calmly about your feelings, or do you blow up and have regular melt-downs? Hanging on to them until you blow up just makes a bigger mess of things.
Each of these practices is important to living a healthy and happy life.
Remember: it is not selfish to want to practice self-care.
Indeed, you need to practice self-care so you can have the energy, patience, and resilience you need to take care of your loved ones. Practicing self-care isn't just a gift to you. It is also a gift to them.
Until next time.