Why is it when you say self-care to most people they start talking about manicures, pedicures, massages, man caves, and nights out with the girls/boys? I’m for all of that, but these things are not self-care; they are rewards. In some cases, it’s more stressful to fit these things into your schedule which defeats the purpose of self-care. Self-Care should prevent stress or at least mange it. That’s why self-care should be non-negotiable. After all, how can we be our very best selves if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. How do you define self-care?
Here’s my take on it. Self-Care encompasses all those things which keep you (or get you to the point of) health: physically, mentally, and spiritually. These include things like rest, sleep, hydration, nutrition, intellectual stimuli/input, exercise (especially stretches), healthy relationships, and spiritual enrichment. In other words, self-care is taking care of your authentic self – the you without the masks of your business or social personas. It’s the things that make you thrive; the things that bring you joy, peace, comfort, and health. Wow! That’s a mouthful!
What I’m trying to get at is, we don’t pay enough attention to taking care of ourselves. We spend so much of our time taking care of others that we become the last man on the totem pole. So our families, our co-workers, our civic, community, and church responsibilities all get taken care of while we fall apart in every area of our lives. Unfortunately, I speak from experience. One day I realized my health on every level (physically, mentally, and spiritually) was deteriorating because all of my attention was focused on helping everyone else, even when they really didn’t need or accept my help.
Self-Care has to become a non-negotiable. Hopefully, this realization comes before it’s too late – before the heart attack, before the overwhelming depression, before the loss of good relationships you needed to nurture, before dreams and life goals suffer, and before you lose yourself completely. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself? Is my lifestyle making me miserable? Is it because my life takes the backseat to everyone else’s life?
Even if you have suffered some losses as I have, you can start where you are. Begin a self-care regiment and make it a priority! Get enough sleep and rest. Don’t just fit it in where you can, make it a precedent. Eat nutritious meals at regular intervals of the day and hydrate. (Red Bull and coffee is not a meal!) Your body needs fuel and rest to function properly. Feed your intellect and your spirit with truth and joy. Exercise your body and your mind. Surround yourself with wholesome relationships, people who share your interests and have your best interest at heart. Avoid takers! (That could be a topic in and of itself!)
As I work on my own self-care, I’m finding that I enjoy my life more. I look forward to the things that keep me healthy: reading a good book, enjoying my favorite fresh fruit (mangoes, and cherries), cooking specialty dishes (love my Food Network app) , listening to good music, spending time in prayer and meditation, taking a long walks, catching a nap after work, spending time with my friends, date night with my husband, lunch and conversation with my mom, writing, singing, solitude in my favorite places. My self-care may have come late, but it came just in time for me to enjoy my life and work toward my dreams and goals with real energy.
How’s your self-care? Is it on the back burner? Do you have time for yourself or are you so busy working and caring for others that there is no time for you? Has the needs of others negotiated your self-care away? Think about that image of the airline oxygen mask. Put your mask on first, then you can help someone else put on their’s. It’s not too late to save your life! Choose to be a healthy you. Make self-care a priority.