Is your self-care definition based on luxury and pampering? Is it about soaking in tubs and having a personal masseuse?
I recently had a discussion with my daughter on self-care. Her version of self-care "was knowing when she needs exercise or fries."
We often get drawn into the world of 'shoulds' and follow what other people define as self-care.
The world of ‘shoulds’ may include I should exercise every day for X amount of time. I should have a protein smoothie every morning after my 5 mile run. There is no doubt this would help my physical health.
What does it do to my mental health if these are not activities I like, or foods I enjoy? They will not become a priority and then I can spiral into guilt about my self-care.
I know I like a good cup of coffee every morning to start my day and this is my priority. I embrace it and celebrate the aroma as I give gratitude after the first sip. I also follow my cup of coffee with a meditation practice. My mental health is boosted by ‘feel good’ hormones. This is the same ‘feel good’ hormones you get preparing and drinking your green smoothie while celebrating the extra kilometre you ran.
As I stroll around my neighbourhood I enjoy the peace and tranquility and nature. And I boost my immune system with Vitamin D. I can choose to walk the stairs to the outside, or choose a path that includes some inclines to get in my required cardio.
Self-care can be described as choosing priority activities daily, that help you stay healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
My priority of happiness may be fries today and yoga tomorrow and yours may be exercise every day. It is what is going to support either one of us in the present moment.
Self-care may also include tasks which are mundane and real, however necessary.
Creating a consistent habit of self-care we have the ability to better gauge our physical, mental and emotional wellness.
Self-care may be having a soak in a tub or even getting a massage. Before this happens, mundane tasks such as a trip to the grocery store or paying the bills may be required. Slipping into the bathtub that is filled with lovely scented oils and candles glowing along with soft music playing has its benefits to your well-being. The experience will be better appreciated if you are not thinking about paying water or electric bills, and food for tomorrow's breakfast.
I have a complicated relationship toward the word "practice" as it conjures up visions of doing something till I get it right. However a practice can also mean having an activity that you consistently engage in.
This is where a self-care practice comes in. It is not so we can judge ourselves, rather it is an opportunity to engage in varied activities that bring ease to our life.
Having daily activities to support physical, emotional and mental areas of our life help when chaos or change happens.
Our nervous system can be given time to calm down and therefore our immune system can stay strong.
Have you ever noticed after you completed a big project you get sick? If we are sleeping well and eating nourishing foods while completing those busy tasks we come out the other side feeling strong, energized and ready for the next challenge.
Having a regular personal self-care system, you will be less apt to self-sabotage with behaviours that are not supporting your health and mental wellbeing.
When a person is living a life not aligned with their passion and path; when they feel disconnected to how they truly are, they may engage in activities to try to capture those feelings of connection. These become self sabotaging rather than nurturing or supporting the dreams of following one's bliss.
It doesn't matter where it is fries today or exercise tomorrow; paying bills or slipping into a scented bath -
Choose your SELF-CARE ACTIVITIES based on YOUR VALUES that SUPPORT your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual WELLBEING.