When is the last time that you took a few moments to nurture yourself, outside of eating? We often consider nourishment as it relates to the nutrients that our bodies use from food, but by definition, it is the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition. Today, we're going to focus on a few of those "other substances" involved.
The word "self-care" can evoke many emotions, especially feelings of guilt, when its purpose is misunderstood. I often see this issue with mothers, teachers, and anyone who serves as a care-taker. We are used to nurturing others and feel selfish when we nurture ourselves; yet, the truth is that one must be "full" in order to be able to give. If we're "empty," what do we have left for others? Every time I'm sitting in an airplane, listening to the safety briefing, I think about this. As much as we would love to help others, unless we put on our own oxygen mask first, we won't be able to help others. We're in no state to help others when we aren't well ourselves, are we?
Self-care is focused on nurturing and fostering internal growth and bringing about the best in yourself. It is simply a way to bring balance back to your life and improve your quality of life. As part of one's overall health, self-care plays a key role in a holistically healthy lifestyle. While self-care begins with hygiene and grooming, it should evolve into more advanced methods that bring joy, introspection, awareness, and balance to one's life.
Deep, restorative sleep: This may sound very obvious, but it is abandoned way too often, especially among busy, successful professionals. This is the body’s time to heal, repair, renew, to activate our growth hormone so that our metabolism functions properly. Getting enough sleep allows our brain to work to maximum capacity so that we don’t fall for every temptation that comes our way. When our immune system is strong, we can fight common infections and viruses, without having to intervene with medicine. Create a ritual to get yourself and your family prepared for restful sleep and get to bed ON TIME. It will pay dividends!
Dry-brushing the skin is great for improving the drainage of lymph throughout the lymphatic system to boost immunity, can help to diminish cellulite, and is great for exfoliating the skin, for softness and smoothness.
Massage is useful in relaxing, reducing stress and tension, and improving immune function. This is one of my favorite forms of self-care, as even just the human touch has been shown to improve health and can induce a feeling of well-being.
Qi Gong and Tai Chi are two forms of energy arts that calm, relax, and strengthen, boosting the immune system. These “grounding” exercises are very energizing, as they increase our vibrational frequencies. They allow our minds to be still and gain introspection so that we are more caring and loving beings, more balanced and aware.
Meditation is superb in aiding with productivity. This might sound strange, but 45 minutes of meditation can be the equivalent of 3 hours of deep, restorative sleep. To the excuse, “I don’t have enough time to meditate,” Dr. Pedram Shojai would say, “You don’t have enough time not to meditate.” Even Jerry Seinfeld has said that his show would still go on, had he known about Transcendental Meditation back then. Deep meditation is the highest form of consciousness, so it improves our alertness, enabling us to act with intention, not just going through the motions of life.
You may want to try some of these as well:
Take a nap
Go out and have an adventure
Read something fun and easy
Take a long hike or walk
Watch a fun, inspiring, or funny movie
Walk on the beach
Enjoy the sunset
Listen to an upbeat song and dance around
Listen to inspring music
Stop watching TV
Eat cleanly and simply
Go boating, water skiing, or swimming
Try something new
Adopt a positive attitude
And the list goes on! The possibilities are endless! Consider other ideas by answering the question: What do you need more of in your life? What are you yearning for, starving for, longing for, wanting more, hungry for more of in your life, or want less of?
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self-care the way that works best for you.
These methods are especially helpful for those of us who undergo an immense amount of stress everyday. While we may not be able to completely avoid these stressors, our health will suffer if we do not find a way to manage the stress, through the suggested techniques and rituals. When you begin to doubt whether it's a good use of your time to take care of yourself, consider your role, your purpose in this world. By taking care of ourselves, we can be the best versions of ourselves and show up fully to fulfill our purpose each day. But believe me, it doesn't just "happen;" you have to plan for it, carve out some time in your busy schedule to restore and renew. It's worth the investment!
I've only included just a sample of various forms of self-care here, but there are many more to be considered. I'd love to hear about your favorite methods. Please share them with our community so that we can each explore new ways to improve ourselves on our wellness journey.