I have been preaching and teaching about the importance of self-care since around 2010. And while today self-care is a word that has become frequently used—almost to the point of feeling cliché’—I absolutely still believe it is imperative, now more than ever, for all people to practice.
First, it is worth the reminder that self-care is not simply pampering (although pampering can be a tool for self-care). Self-care is not overindulgence. Self-care is not being selfish. Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.
I fully believe when we feel better everything we do and every interaction we have is better. Self-care in some ways is the far opposite of selfishness. Practicing self-care allows our best and highest self to show up for others regularly in the world.
The importance of knowing yourself and knowing how to manage your energy are integral pieces of the self-care puzzle. Where do you get your energy? What (and who) fill you up? What (and who) leave you feeling run down and depleted? What boundaries do you need to create or maintain? What do you need to let go of in your life? What might you need to add? What is your relationship with play? What is your relationship with rest? I believe these are all important questions to answer to in order to figure out how to best practice self-care. Self-care can look very different for each person.
I have always known I need a large amount of time alone to refuel my energy level, and the pandemic has solidified that knowing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly miss people and in person human connection. I yearn for the days I will be able to safely go out to dinner with friends, interact with students more in person, eat lunch with my co-workers, and have large family gatherings again. However, I have enjoyed my time at home alone much of the time during the pandemic. I discovered through the pandemic that in the future I need to make a conscious effort to spend more time at home to replenish my energy.
What have you learned about yourself and your needs during this time?
I believe everyone should have some self-care tools in their health & wellness toolbox. Today, I will be sharing three of my most recent favorite self-care practices with you.
Cultivating true rest & relaxation. Over the years, I have realized sitting down does not necessarily equate to rest. If the mind is racing or the finger is scrolling, perhaps this is not actually restorative rest. Prior to the pandemic, one of my biggest sources or rest was getting a monthly massage. I have not gotten one now for a very long time. One of the new ways I’ve started integrating deeper rest and relaxation during this time is by spending time on my acupressure mat. This somehow leaves me feeling similarly to how I felt after a massage: deeply relaxed and at ease. In preparation, I ritualistically set the ambiance (which I feel is a very important and necessary step in creating a sense of ease, rest, & relaxation) in my little yoga room by turning on the electric fire place, turning off the lights, lighting a few candles, diffusing lavender essential oil, turning on meditative music, grabbing a bolster for under my knees, a blanket to cover up with, an eye pillow, and I lie down and rest on my acupressure mat anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes. While the initial jolt of lying down on the prickly mat is intense, that feeling subsides quickly, and it really does leave me feeling heavenly.
Working with food and my body. I realize this might not be a popular one, but in the past year, I started experimenting with my sugar, gluten, and wine intake, and I noticed that these three things consistently seemed to be the culprits behind waking up feeling tired, bloated and puffy (to the point I often couldn’t put my rings on my fingers in the mornings), and with achy joints. While I have experimented with many ways of eating over the years (thank you very much, Diet Culture), I now believe fully there is no one right way for everyone to eat. Each person needs to figure out how to eat in order to feel healthy, energized, and well~while still enjoying food. For me, at this point in my life, I need to leave white sugar and gluten behind and limit my alcohol intake in order to feel my best. Since I’ve made these changes, I definitely feel better!
Walking outside in nature. Now that the weather is warming up, I am making myself get outside to walk regularly. I’ve also begun focusing on walking to relax rather than to “get a workout.” It has started to feel like meditation in motion. The fresh air and movement is healing. It is amazing how a short walk can clear my head and energize my body.
Once again, Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.
Do you need to revamp or amp up your self-care practices? If so, commit. You can do it! And, if you need to hear this: You are worth it.
***I am not currently affiliated with any of the brands linked or mentioned, but I wish I were.***