The concept of self-care is gaining a lot of attention recently and can look like many different things from activities, routines, and even mind-set. Before diving into the details, let’s first understand what it is, and what it isn’t. Self-care, by definition, is “the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.” What it isn’t, is selfish or self-indulgent, it is much needed and can impact many aspects of your health and wellness as well as that of the people you love.
What is Holistic Wellness and how might we apply it?
Self-care is a type of holistic wellness that refers to caring for the whole person: physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Why the multifaceted approach? Because each component has an effect on the other. The most difficult part of holistic wellness is finding balance in all these areas of our lives. Life happens. Many of my patients mention lack of time, unhealthy mind-sets, bad habits, and low energy as barriers to achieving that balance in their lives. Whatever it is that holds you back can take a toll on your health, happiness, and overall quality of life.
In our everyday lives, we may tend to the needs of others before ourselves. it’s been hard for me to avoid this pattern of behavior given the various competing demands on my time stemming from my roles as a mother, wife, and health care provider. As a result, I have noticed a decline in my own holistic wellness over the last few years. I am making an effort to prioritize a healthier mind-set and putting myself first. I’ve found that prioritizing yourself takes consistent practice and time before becoming second nature. However, it is well worth it. My efforts have made me a better mother, wife, and healthcare provider. The saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup” is one that sticks with me as I think about how I want my life to look. The first step I have learned is how to take charge of my own health and happiness.
Why Practice Self-Care?
How we feel and react to feelings is contagious; it has a direct impact on those around us. Translated, these feelings-in-action represent the energy we bring to an interaction. Regularly practicing self-care can affect that energy, often resulting in a more grounded, positive environment. Self-care reduces stress, improves productivity, and most importantly, prevents burnout. Sometimes, we fall into stress loops where we’re stressing about a stress that has not even happened yet – talk about stressful! Taking time to relax and organize our thoughts can help to ease anxiety and depression which, left untreated, often lead to poor lifestyle choices. As such, self-care helps to promote healthier choices that lead to improved health outcomes. We become more resilient when we are faced with stress or difficult situations when our holistic health is a priority.
How to Practice Holistic Self-Care
There is no better time than the present to start building a holistic approach to self-care! Below, I’ve included a few examples of simple ways I’ve started incorporating self-care into your routine. As you’ll see, self-care does not require significant time, effort, or money to be effective! After reading the list below, I encourage you to imagine how you’d like to feel in your life. Then, put pen to paper, and jot down some self-care practices you can realistically incorporate into your own routine that will help you work towards your desired life.
- Ask for help (no matter how stubborn you might be).
- Set boundaries with family, friends, and work life.
- Learn to forgive yourself.
- Say “NO!”, especially to activities that are not in line with your desires and interests. Give yourself permission to let things go and do not feel guilty about preserving your sanity.
- Delegate activities or decisions to someone else so that you can think clearly and get back the time you need for YOU.
- Have gratitude. Think about all the wonderful things that you have, do not dwell on the things that you do not have. For more on how to incorporate gratitude in your day-to-day life, I recommend reading my co-worker Katheryn Seigel’s post “You Are What You Eat So Eat Good Stuff”.
- Listen to happy music, or better yet, dance to it!
- Treat your body to healthy food and hydration.
- Remember those old hobbies? There’s a reason you enjoyed them - get back to them!
- Make some calming tea, turn off all devices and screens, then get a good night’s sleep.
- Get in touch with good friends who share similar values and who lift your mood.
- Prioritize quality time with your significant other.
- Take a hot bath with candles and soft music.
- Challenge yourself to think positively about situations AND yourself. Remember, what we think about, we bring about (good or bad).
Why should you just survive, when you can thrive! You deserve to be happy and healthy. The people you love and who love you will recognize a positive change in you and may even be inspired to start their own self-care routines.
You only get this one body and one mind, so start living life to the fullest.