Self-care is this weird, elusive idea to most of us. Everyone preaches the importance of self care, but it seems like few people can really explain what it is. They spout off ideas like healthy eating, exercise, meditation.
Below is a small list to help your body and mind feel as strong as your spirit and soul are. Eat well, sleep well, and exercise are a given.
1. Be kind to your body.
Don’t push yourself further than you know you can go, just for the sake of other people’s needs. . You feel like a cop-out: weak, or even useless, because you can’t do what everyone else can, or you can’t make yourself keep going when others can. Once in a while, pushing yourself is good, because you get to do something I like to call “resetting your limits”, where you learn you’re capable of so much more than you thought. But that is once in a while, not every weekend. Hear your body, don’t ignore it, and be proud of yourself for being kind to you.
2. Acknowledge That Things Are Hard
There is incredible power in using your voice to name your experience. Not only is it validating to hear your own voice claim what exists in your bones, it is also important for those around you to be aware of what you’re going through.
We have no way to predict or control another person’s response, but sometimes there is healing power in letting other people hear what is on our minds and hearts.
3.Ask For Help
This relates to number one. When we can identify our needs and ask another person to help us meet these needs, we work to build intentional community around the concept that we are all connected and moving through this work and earth together.
The reality is that a lot of us – most of us, even – struggle to take care of ourselves in this sometimes heartbreaking world. When we find community in that, we may begin to grow and to heal.
Together, we become resilient.
4. Keep active.
Not exercise, per se, but housework, errand-running, or meeting friends and family. Constantly keep yourself going so that you don’t fall into the trap of being lazy. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re tired, when actually its lethargy. It’s also easy to convince yourself that you need the downtime, when actually your mind and body don’t need rest to heal, but activity. Though this might seem to fly in the face of number one on our list, it’s not about burning yourself out (a very significant distinction), but finding the happy medium between becoming stressfully over-occupied and depressingly under-occupied.
5. Heal yourself healthy.
Some of us might have ailments we aren’t paying attention to because they just don’t make the priorities list. It’s not about maintaining overall health in an obviously general way (like eating your fruits and veggies), but acknowledging that to keep yourself healthy, you need focus on what needs healing. I used to have quite vicious eczema. Though everyday I could feel its effects on me, I never really took it seriously until my parents sat me down on a trip home and told me that I had to do something about it, for their sake. I am ashamed to say that had they not been so adamant, I might still be scratching scaly, dragon-hide type areas on my neck all day and night. Now, I’m on to fixing my vitamin D deficiency.
6. Accept Vulnerability
We are quick to view vulnerability as weakness. We learn that vulnerability means that we are inferior to those who we view as strong.
But the reality is that vulnerability is actually a strength – it is a reminder that we are real and authentically ourselves. It reminds us that we are very much alive and that we are doing the work that we need to do to make this world what it should and can be.
We won’t do it perfectly, but rather than chastise ourselves for our imperfections, we must understand and celebrate our humanity – flaws, and all.
7. Acknowledge that to maintain your overall mental and physical health
Keep a list of things that you need to keep getting better at; I think it’s fair to say we all have more than one area in our lives where we’re probably ignoring how bad our habits are for us. As always, prioritize. Now that you’ve become better about sleeping before dawn, maybe the next thing is to replace eating chocolate one of the seven (hundred) times in the day that you do with eating some sort of natural thing. Like, I dunno, fruit. Always give yourself more than enough time to break the bad habit and establish the good. Don’t expect overnight results, and when you finally feel like you’ve cracked it, reward yourself. This might seem tiring, but honestly, it releases such feel-good feelings and gets you all fired up for more positive change.