Do you ever really ask yourself what is self care? You hear a lot about it and also a lot of “oh pulleeze” right behind it.
It sounds fluffy and selfish to talk about self care, but please hear me out.
You can’t give someone a drink from an empty cup.
How many times have you felt bone-weary? Is there a sense of fatigue so deep that sleep doesn’t help? Maybe you’re stressing over a work project that’s not going well, a child that is acting out more than normal, or you’re a caregiver for both children and parents.
You’re stretched thin. And now we’re in the midst of the busy holiday season which adds even more stress. Something’s got to give and so you give up exercising, an hour of sleep at night or skip your lunch altogether.
As selfish and extravagant as it sounds, neglecting your own well-being is the worst thing that you can do. Can you fill your cup from an empty well?
Why Is Self Care Important?
We’ve all heard the saying about burning the candle at both ends and yet this is ingrained into our lifestyles. We pack our schedules like crazy and then fall into bed exhausted at night only to get up and do it all over again the next day.
Simply put, self care is fundamental to your well-being from a physical, mental and emotional standpoint. When you keep going (because you think you HAVE to or the world will spin off its’ axis), you don’t focus as well, your energy lags and your skills may suffer – you’re just not on your “A” game.
Eventually, you reach the point where your well has run dry and that’s when you get sick. Dealing with a nasty cold or even worse – the flu? How much rest do you get? What’s your stress level like? Are you running on empty?
Sitting in front of the television watching all the cable news doesn’t count as rest or relaxation – it actually stresses your system more. Think I’m kidding? Watching a steady diet of the latest outrageous news on television or social media tends to make you feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Mary McNaughton-Cassill is a professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio and a leading researcher on the connection between media consumption and stress. She says:
“In addition to a burgeoning sense of helplessness, she said, cognitive shortcuts triggered by the news can also lead us to gradually see the world as a darker and darker place, chipping away at certain optimistic tendencies. “
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying to unplug and be a Pollyanna – not by a long shot. What I am saying is that a steady diet of the worst the world has to offer really adds to your stress and who needs that?
What Is Self Care?
The University at Buffalo teaches the students in the School of Social Work that self care is their personal responsibility. They plainly explain that self care is a survival skill and why:
“Self-care is an essential social work survival skill. Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being. Self-care is necessary for your effectiveness and success in honoring your professional and personal commitments.”
So, the first thing I hear from clients about self care is “I don’t have time!” Actually, you do have time. You’re simply not making self care a priority. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and it’s your priorities that determine how you spend it.
Don’t get me wrong – I know you have 3 kids, a full-time job, laundry, meals and homework. I’m well aware of that. What happens when you are sick in bed for three or four days from the flu?
By making your own well-being a priority, you’ll be stronger and less stressed in the long run. You can’t be effective as a parent or employee if you don’t take care of you!
Self care isn’t something you can do once in a great while. Practicing self care on a daily basis reaps major rewards! The easiest and best way is to practice small little habits every single day.
Self Care Ideas
Here are some ideas for self care that you can do anytime and anywhere in a short amount of time.
- Take a few seconds several times a day to breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Stand up and stretch. If your co-workers look at you funny, why not ask them to join you? Stretch your arms, legs and back every couple of hours.
- Ask for help. You can’t do everything alone (just ask me how I know this one). When you ask for help, you give someone an opportunity to give back which is good for their self care!
- Laugh. Read a comic strip, listen to a comedian (I love Jeff Dunham for just this reason) or anything that will make you laugh. Laughing releases the feel-good endorphins which make you feel less stressed!
- UNPLUG. No really. Unplug from everything for one hour every single day. I actually unplug nearly every Sunday when I’m not at a market or festival.
- Walk up and down the stairs three times. This little bit of exercise is surprisingly effective!
- Take a break when you need one. Pushing through without a moment to rest is very hard on your adrenal and immune systems.
- Replace one sugared beverage every day with a bottle or glass of water. I didn’t say give up your soda, I said replace just one with a bottle of water.
- Learn to say no. If you find yourself overscheduled and pushed to the point of resentment, saying no will give you back your power. If you’re not sure you can do this, let’s talk. As a holistic life coach, I can show you how to set healthy boundaries.
- Aromatherapy does wonders for your body, mind and spirit through the use of essential oils. Take a big whiff several times a day of any essential oil that is uplifting to you such as peppermint, lemon or sweet orange.
If you need a bit of extra help especially through the holidays, use Stress Support Aromatherapy Roller Ball. Apply it to your adrenal glands that sit on top of each kidney 3 or 4 times a day as a tonic for your system. Aromatherapy is an amazing tool to help yourself stay – or get – healthy.