Get it Straight: What is Self-Care?
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If I could pinpoint a buzzword for 2019, it would be “self-care”. Everybody is talking about it as if it’s some new phenomenon. Suddenly we realize it’s beneficial to take care of ourselves. It is beneficial. It is important. But what is equally as important is to know what true self-care is.
Self-care is not bubble baths and spa days. It’s not shirking your responsibilities to veg out and Netflix binge. It is not spending what you don’t have to feel better. Self-care is so much more than self-indulgence. There is a difference and we have to get it straight. We can self-indulge all day long, but that is not truly taking care of ourselves.
1. Self-care is healthy eating.
It isn’t always about tickling your taste buds. Self-care means finding out what your body needs and making sure it gets just that. It means getting enough water and balancing your intake of fruits, vegetables and, yes, even carbs. These are things you have to be intentional about and, when you do so, you reap the benefits of energy and better health.
2. Self-care is adequate sleep.
As I noted above, self-care isn’t about lazing about on the couch surfing whatever is on Netflix. In fact, in most cases, it means shutting the television off sooner and taking the time to wind down for a full night of sleep. Going to bed at consistent times every night is important. The other important factor is an appropriate bedtime routine. Wash your face, moisturize, do a few stretches and empty your mind of the day. Create a comfortable sleeping environment by pinpointing the things that make you uncomfortable and changing those things.
3. Self-care is breathing.
I’m not talking about the regular inhaling and exhaling you do every moment of the day. I’m talking about taking a few moments of stillness and quiet. Yoga and prayer both work wonders for me in this way. In Yoga, physical movement is slow and intentional and it literally uses your breath to create space in your mind and body. Prayer is the spiritual facet of your self-care where you prioritize your faith and allow God to pour into you so you are in a good enough place to pour out when it’s required.
Breathing in this way also means getting that heart rate up from time to time; moving your body to expand your lung capacity. Maybe it’s in some mindless dancing, jogging or other forms of exercise. Whatever it is, get your heart pumping and that oxygen moving to the areas that need it most.
4. Self-care is getting organized.
Organization aids in giving us a peaceful living experience day to day. It means having a daily cleaning routine (which I talked about in an earlier post). It means making sure your spaces are clear of clutter and ready for you to be productive in the best way possible. When your environment is cluttered, so is your head. When your head gets cluttered, that’s stress you never needed nor is it beneficial to your own personal care.
5. Self-care is positive relationships.
There are some people we often need to distance ourselves from. You know the ones…the argumentative, negative or downright rude. There are others we can’t distance ourselves from. So, it’s important for our own sanity to be the positive force in your relationships. Work on how you interact within your marriage. Work on how you interact with your family members. Then, aim for peace. Surround yourselves regularly with positive and encouraging people. Those are the people who will remind you of how you do need to take care of yourself.
There are some that will require more of us: our children or elderly family members. We’ll often be required to put ourselves aside to care for others. When we have positive people in our tribe, they can help energize us when things get hard and we get used up so quickly.
And the last but not least part of this is…your relationships have to go beyond social media. Get together face-to-face. Have coffee. Invite friends over. Take a break from electronic noise and listen to real voices in front of you.
The bottom line is, self-care is so much more than what we’ve made it. Self care is about actually taking care of yourself so you can better help the people around you. It’s not about continuing old habits and learning how to deal with the negative consequences of those habits by indulging. Once we figure out that self-care is actually about care and not coping, we’ll be less stressed and relatively happier people.
What is your idea of self-care? Has your original idea of it changed or evolved?