This is a term which has become so ubiquitous in recent years. We're constantly being reminded to create time for self care. But what does this actually mean? Is it selfish to allot specific time to take care of our own needs? When so much is going on in the world, why devote time to "self care”?
As someone who has chosen a career in helping people heal and then spends time off for volunteering, this term would seem almost contradictory to my chosen life path. But it isn't and here's why. If I didn't make time to honor my own needs and desires I'd never have the energy to help others. Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy. I'll sometimes spend a "day off" doing chores to feel productive, but I'll also devote time to doing what makes me feel good like yoga, hiking, traveling, petting my cats ;-) and spending quality time with friends and family.
So why is self care important for YOU? In our fast paced world you may feel pressured to maintain a busy lifestyle, perhaps driven to achieve a set of goals, without taking time off. In both cases this ultimately leads to exhaustion and eventual burnout. And not just physical but mental exhaustion as well. Signs of burnout may show up in your body as fatigue, depression, anxiety, chronic pain or frequent infections, to name a few. This is your body's way of saying "enough", forcing you to slow down.
Before it gets to that point it’s essential to integrate a regular self care routine into your daily life. This allows your mind and body to recharge. It helps to refocus your purpose while bringing a sense of joyfulness to your life.
So how can we incorporate daily self care? Well, here are a variety of ways:
1. Take at least 5 minutes each morning and evening to just breathe. It can be a meditation or simply time to quiet the mind.
2. Dedicate at least 10 minutes or more a day to moving your body. This can include gentle stretching, walking, running, cycling, swimming, taking an exercise class, gardening, dancing or anything that gets you out of your mind and into your body.
3. Take a break in the middle of your day to enjoy a delicious and healthy lunch. Rather than eating through work, allocate a certain amount of time to really taste your food.
4. Do something fun at least once a week! Our lives aren't just about work and crossing items off a list. We also need to create balance by doing something just for fun and not because it's
good for us or any other ulterior motive. This can be as simple as going to the movies, playing games with your kids, watching the sunset, swimming in the ocean or taking a couple days to visit a place you've always wanted to go.