Happy Wednesday, and welcome to almost-November. It’s hard to believe that my new book, Wild World, Joyful Heart: Unlock Your Power to Create Health and Joy (WWJH), has been out frolicking around for 3 weeks! So far, folks seem pretty stoked about the book. I’ve even had people who’ve finished reading (or listening to) the book scoop up 6, 12, or 30 books so they can give them out to friends and colleagues, with the same comment, “Everyone should read this book.” Yay!
A main topic covered in the early part of said book is self-care. Just last week, I was having yet-another conversation with a client about the importance of self-care. She was a parent, and said something I’ve heard many, many times from parents: “I don’t have time for self-care. And besides, my kids should come first.”
Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential to our well-being. In order to be our most healthy, productive, joyful, and balanced selves, we need to replenish what we give out. We would never dream of trying to run our car on an empty gas tank, yet we often try to barrel through our lives without re-filling our human tank, BodyMindSpirit. We’re pretty smart; why do we do that?!
Because when our plate feels over-full, we feel that we “don’t have time” for self-care. We often fall into an ineffective and paradoxical cycle: our self-care takes a back seat to the perceived busyness of our lives, making us less able to continue to meet the rigors of our daily life because we’re not practicing self-care. As we become increasingly exhausted, unfulfilled and overwhelmed, we become ever less-likely to practice self-care, and increasingly less likely to rock our life experience. Big bummer.
Yet when we create the time and habits to continually re-fill our self-care tank, we experience more positivity and joy in our lives. We have more energy, are less emotionally reactive, feel less stressed, are more productive, and feel more can-do. And yes, we’re better parents. (That’s the short list.)
What Exactly IS Self-Care (And What Is It NOT?)
What is self-care? “Self-care is care provided for you, by you. It’s about identifying your individual needs for well-being and taking steps to meet them, on a daily basis, acting from a place of support and love. This self-care deeply affects our attitude about life experiences while creating consistent, gentle support that helps us express and live the most vibrant and satisfied version of ourselves.”
“As wonderful as this sounds, it’s important to make a subtle distinction: self-care is different from self-indulgence. Self-care can sometimes feel not-fun in the moment, such as when we drag our ass out of bed on a cold winter morning to get to our spin class.”
That’s straight out of WWJH; self-care is explored early in the book, as one of the three pillars that support our well-being. As with everything, start small and remember that consistency is key. With those suggestions as the backdrop, what might self-care look like?
Create Health and Joy With Self-Care Habits
Self-care looks different for different people. It’s important to explore what will serve YOUR particular BodyMindSpirit best, and then to create habits around your self-care choices. Here’s a short list of what that might include:
- Eat health-building food
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Sitting quietly with a cup o’ tea
- Frequent connection with friends
We’re talking here about habitual things we do to support ourselves. Events like a massage or a walk on the beach when visiting the College of Charleston with one’s son (Wow. That sounded really specific, didn’t it? See accompanying pic.) are self-care events as opposed to self-care habits. Self-care events are awesome and highly recommended; however, it’s the everyday habits where the real magic lies for supporting our well-being.
For instance, if I meditate for 20 minutes, 5 days a week, that’s an hour and forty minutes of self-care a week that is baked into my routine. And the ripple effect is significant. Small things, done consistently, add up to big things!
Know What Your Bottom Line Is
There are LOTS of awesome and supportive things we can do for ourselves but it’s unlikely we can do them all! It’s important to have “non-negotiables.” What on earth are they? The best way to explain this is with an example.
While working on the aforementioned book, especially this last year, I was often working 12-16 hour days. There were a few times when my self-care would significantly slide “because of deadlines” and I would quickly notice the difference in my ability to be creative, productive, happy, and to engage in parenting the way I prefer. That paradox thing.
I ended up with my “non-negotiables” for self-care, outlined in the list below. These are things that I did, no matter what, in the same way that I always keep my car gas tank at least half-full.
- Food Sass® 80/20 rule. 80%+ of the time, I ate whole, nutrient-dense foods.
- Walking in nature 4+ days/week, even if it’s just 20 minutes (this doubled as exercise, too!).
- 80-120 oz. of water a day
- Be in bed for a minimum of 7 hours a night. (Sleep was sometimes elusive, but at least I was resting.)
- My goal was daily for at least 15 minutes, and it ended up being more like 2-5x/week, which is way better than zero times per week! (Progress, not perfection.)
Many times, the walking in nature and meditation ended up being an either/or choice…one or the other. That’s okay. And know that your non-negotiables may look quite different! The important thing is consistency; slow and steady wins the race. If you’re not doing much of anything in the way of self-care now, maybe choose one small thing that you can commit to every day…a nutrient-dense breakfast, a slow and relaxing hot shower after dinner, or some quiet reading time before bed. Once that starts to feel like part of your daily routine, maybe add in something else.
Self-care is truly a game-changer. I invite you to give yourself the gift of self-care! And, if you want to learn more about self-care and empowered well-being, I also invite you to scoop up a copy of Wild World, Joyful Heart. You can create health and joy in a wild world! Maybe starting with your own self-care.
Create Vibrant Health: BodyMindSpirit®
With love and self-care savvy,