Self Care Isn't Selfish
Self-care is a popular buzzword, sometimes met with an eye roll. But it’s no joke. Those who know how to take good care of themselves often have more to give others and enjoy more positive emotions. Looking forward, your future self will be healthier and happy too. Self-care is the ultimate health care reform.
It starts with an intentional awareness of these daily health pillars: Sleep, Healthy Eating, Movement, Relaxation, and Connection. Add in a few extras when possible, and you’ve got a winning plan for effective self-care. Create brief simple rituals that support this plan. If you’re a parent, there is nothing better you can do for your kids than create intentional rituals that will bake good self-care into your daily routines. Be the role model but include them in these routines whenever possible.
Good self-care involves developing reserves and resilience that help you travel the inevitable up and down journey of life.
1. Sleep well.
This is the only overnight cure. You really can make a big health impact in one
night, with quality sleep. Make it very dark, cool, and quiet in your bedroom
and ban electronics and blinking lights. Use blue-blocker glasses in the
evening to shade out light that overstimulates our brain. My son loves a little
iPod time in the evening and his next gift is some cool shades.
2. Eat to nourish.
Try to flip the switch on cravings and learn which foods help you feel
the best. I tried the Whole30 plan last month, eliminating dairy, flour, sugar,
sweeteners, bread, grains, processed foods and alcohol. I had significant
improvement in my flexibilty and joint pains, so I think I’m going to keep up
many aspects of it. What foods make you feel great? Which foods make you tired
or uncomfortable? Be your own detective, or get checked for food sensitivities.
Teach the kids 3-5
age-appropriate simple dishes that can be assembled or prepared faster than
3. Move your body.
This does not have to be an intimidating workout. A morning walk or an evening stroll counts. Walk the dog and the kids. Scatter 4-5 dance breaks throughout the day. Stretching makes you feel like a graceful cat. Lifting heavy things, barbells or groceries, a couple times a week is great. Work yourself up to a class and stand in back if you’re shy. We’re so lucky to have amazing options at the YMCA, Family Wellness, Courts Plus, Park District, Community Education, Mojo Fit, Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness and numerous private gyms and yoga studios around town.
And don’t forget Barre classes, Cycle Bar, SolidCore, Orange Theory, hot yoga, Surf
Classes, and more. Move it, shake it, lift it, and be a little silly and have fun. If you can’t do all the move, laugh it off. Move it so you don’t lose it.
4. Relaxation helps your mind and your body.
This is as simple as 2 minutes of deep breathing in the morning. It can be prayer, meditation, guided imagery, journaling or reading. Ask friends if they have any favorites. What calms and centers you? If you need to explore more, consider an app like Calm or Head-space. For real tech lovers, the Muse headband is a meditation device that provides real-time feedback on your mental activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements so you can track your results and progress.
Having a massage, body work or facial on a regular basis is a great way to relax. The power of touch is a powerful psychological boost in addition to soothing sore
muscles and improving skin.
5. Connection makes the world go round.
It’s said that loneliness is deadlier than cigarette smoking. Be intentional about meaningful conversations with your family. Discuss highs and lows of your days. Have a family game night that inspires laughter along with a little healthy competition. Girls Night Out with your friends is important. Guys Get Togethers have meaning beyond football scores. Make it more about the conversation that the cocktails. If you are really brave, give some hugs. A 20-second heart-to-heart hugs is scientifically proven to boost positive hormones.and ban electronics and blinking lights. Use blue-blocker glasses in the evening to shade out light that overstimulates our brain. My son loves a little iPod time in the evening and his next gift is some cool shades.
6. The little extras make it all worthwhile.
I’m currently reading a book called Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee. The message is simply that joy is all around us if we know where to look, and we can learn to cultivate joy in our everyday lives. It’s about noticing what brings us pleasure. It’s about being aware of birds singing, a beautiful sunset or frost on the trees. It’s about relishing cozy socks, a warm sweater and a cup of tea on a cold day. It’s a few moments of
basking in the sun at the lake, enjoying the waves and a little bit of breeze. Make a list of happy moments and things you enjoy, and intentionally seek them out.
Consider all the little self-care rituals and habits that make up your pillars of health, and the silver lining that these fill your bucket with reserves and resilience.
Self-care allows us to be grateful for our bodies, our minds, our spirits and for others. Life is good!