Hello Kindred community! We’re exploring an essential concept today for positive wellbeing— one that may have been sitting in the backseat for quite some time. So, let’s dig in…
What Self-Care IS
Self-care can be described as anything you do to best care for and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit. It’s taking time to replenish yourself with the things that make you uniquely tick. Doing so restores your soul and your ability to function well and not on fumes. Here are some examples: going for a bike ride, reading, painting, engaging in yoga, listening to music, running, coloring, engaging in deep breathing, enjoying a cup of coffee, going for a walk in the sunshine, enjoying a fragrant candle, eating healthy foods, an impromptu dance party (I love these), resting, laughing, you get the picture…
I’ve included some photos of my favorite self-care activities.
What Self-Care ISN’T
Self-care is not selfish. Say it with me now! You can actually love people better and operate more like your normal self when you practice self-care.
Self-care is not often valued in our Western society. In an age where producing and doing are elevated, caring for the self is usually downplayed.
Oftentimes, when we need to incorporate self-care the most, our inner critic tells us that we simply don’t have the time. Or we may hear this discouragement from others, but not so explicitly.
Beware of the sneaky word “should” that our inner critic often uses. Super guilt-inflicting and undercutting, this crafty word makes its way into our language and can quickly lead to shaming ourselves for what we “should” be able to accomplish.
Self-care does not get ranked among the important tasks on our “to-do” list. It may not even make it on the “to-do” list. But here’s why it should…
A Self-Care Research Snippet
Marks (2006), states how engaging in self-care activities actually produce the “bonding hormone” called, oxytocin, which helps to fight against the stress hormone, cortisol. Essentially, this oxytocin hormone is your friend and provides numerous health benefits. We can see then how self-care is an active remedy to every-day stress.
A Little Metaphor Morsel:
Think about getting an oil change in your car. It’s something you are highly recommended to do every certain amount of miles you travel. If you didn’t change the oil with regularity, things would begin to not function as they should. Damage may very well be caused to your car. It’s part of the natural maintenance and responsibility of owning a car. Your car functions at its best and is the most reliable when it is well-cared for. Same thing with your mind, body, and spirit: they require regular maintenance in order to operate properly.
Self-Care is not a luxury— it is a necessity.
Everyone will require different levels of “maintenance” for different seasons of life. My encouragement to you would be to examine the current context of your life to help determine the amount of self-care you need: what are your commitments and responsibilities? Where is your time needed and how much is required? Would you anticipate this being a long or a brief season of life?
To piggyback off of this, a good rule of thumb is to be mindful of what I call “input vs. output.” Think about through the course of your day or week how much energy you are “outputting:” cleaning up the house, finding pockets of time to work, managing your schedule, running errands, meeting a friend for coffee who is struggling, meal planning, doing that 10th load of laundry…and it’s only Wednesday, etc. That’s a lot of output you’re doing. A lot of energy is being spent— all on beneficial things, sure, but energy spent nonetheless. This is where we desperately need “input” (aka: self-care) to help offset the “output.” Again, everyone’s amount of “input vs. output” will look differently depending on their season of life and how they are uniquely wired, and that’s okay. You may not be refreshed from 30 minutes of biking while someone else is.
We’ve learned some things but can’t stop there. Let’s make it feasible for ourselves:
SCHEDULE IT: Block out time on your calendar for self-care, just as you would an important meeting. It’s an important meeting with yourself.
OBTAIN ACCOUNTABILITY: Perhaps you choose to create an event reminder in your calendar on your phone for self-care. “Invite” a friend to your event reminder so that someone is following up with you to see if you did it.
NOTICE THE FRUITS: Make mental or physical notes of the positive outcomes you recognize after consistently engaging in self-care.
DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF: If you fail to be consistent in self-care or possibly spent too much time doing self-care (yes, this can happen, too), cut yourself some slack and try to find that balance again.
I’ll let you in on a little inside joke between my husband and me. He will remind me from time to time, as they do on all airplane safety demonstrations that we all intently listen to (cough, cough), “Abby, put your own oxygen mask on first.” What’s he saying here? Lady, you can’t help others well if you’re not taking care of yourself. This isn’t a self-centered perspective— it’s owning that you simply cannot invest in others well if you haven’t invested in yourself adequately. It seems all too easy— and perhaps is more gratifying sometimes— to care for others instead of ourselves.
So, dear ones— take good care of your beautiful selves, keep reaching for your oxygen masks, and stay curious…
Marks, L. (2006). The power of self-care in a “crazy busy” culture. Message posted to http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/positive-thinking-discussions/general-support/10736774-the-power-of-self-care-in-a-crazy-busy-culture
The above content is not designed nor claims to be a substitute for professional mental health services. In all cases, it is the responsibility of the reader to seek appropriate professional treatment for any symptoms he/she may be experiencing that are interfering with his/her quality of life. For a professional counseling referral, feel free to contact Abby at firstname.lastname@example.org.