By Joanne Lee
The Essence of Self-care
In this episode Joanne discusses the essence of self-care, why it is the key to staying healthy and happy, protecting the health of our bodies, minds and spirits and shares five self-soothing techniques.
Episode 5 Transcript
Welcome to Episode Five of our Full Spectrum Wellness Podcast. I'm so happy to be back here with you for our fifth episode.
Today’s episode is about the essence of self-care. What’s the big deal with self-care, anyway Joanne you might be asking?
Self-care is a popular phrase emerging in the fields of mental health. However, self-care is more than just a fun way to treat yourself to something nice – it’s a method for allowing yourself to recharge and physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually function at your best.
Without self-care, you experience your life and the world head-on with no recovery time. Engaging in self-care activities gives you a chance to temporarily step away from your stressors, problems, and responsibilities so you can focus specifically on repairing yourself after a long day.
While self-care does mean to literally take care of yourself, it follows some specific requirements to ensure that you get the most out of your self-care experience:
- Your self-care rituals should be genuinely relaxing and enjoyable for you.
- You finish your self-care routine feeling a little better than before you started.
- You feel ready to tackle your problems, responsibilities, etc. again afterward.
- You express gratitude for what you have in life.
- You engage in activities that help you feel refreshed and refocused
Unfortunately, some people believe the misconception that choosing to engage in self-care rituals and practices regularly is a selfish act. Truthfully, self-care is extremely far removed from selfish behavior!
When a person engages in their self-care practices, they are trying to accomplish one major goal:
- Self-care aims to repair, relax, and refresh a person so they can feel prepared to tackle life again afterward.
Think of practicing self-care like charging a mobile phone. When your mobile phone battery power is low, you plug it into a charger. Practicing your self-care rituals is exactly the same – you are “plugging in” to an energy source that helps you repair your body after a long day, relax your mind, and refresh yourself so you are prepared to go back into the world anew.
Without self-care, continually moving through life would feel incredibly overwhelming and difficult – if not impossible.
Self-care gives you a chance to address your own needs in a world where you may feel constant demands of your time and energy for others. Moving through life without self-care isn’t sustainable, and if you don’t take the time to engage in self-care, you will struggle.
Self-care activities should leave you feeling better than you felt before you started them. This is important – the point of a good self-care ritual is to refresh yourself and repair any stress or damage done to your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing during the day.
However, if you choose negative activities masquerading under the guise of “self-care,” you’ll cause more harm than good you felt while engaging in them.
To illustrate this point, consider common activities such as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes.
Many people like to use alcohol and cigarettes as a release. At first, these may seem like good self-care options – when you’re drinking or smoking, you may initially feel some release and relaxation. However, alcohol and cigarettes can lead to more harm than any good you may have experienced while using them for self-care. Smoking cigarettes can lead to a whole host of medical concerns.
Alcohol can lead to similar health concerns with the added negative experiences of potential hangovers and other unpleasant consequences. In short, these types of “self-care” activities aren’t the right kinds of activities to engage in regularly for relief or release because they leave you feeling worse than before you started doing them.
Practicing self-care is important to staying healthy and happy and to protect the health of your mind, body and spirit.
- Practicing Self-Care helps to reduce Stress. Stress has been linked to several things, including mood and behavior changes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, memory lapses, headaches, and more. Don't let this happen to you!
- Practicing Self-Care helps you to Feel Better. Self-care has a ripple effect on our health and happiness. The healthier we are, the better we can function and be productive. From taking care of our physical needs to feeding our souls, self-care is critical to living well and thriving.
- Practicing Self-Care helps us connect with ourselves. Knowing our worth and how to love and care for ourselves is the first step toward achieving anything in life. When we practice self-care, we are saying we are worth it.
- Practicing Self-Care helps us to remember our priorities. We may be tempted to skip self-care and prioritize others instead, but if we can focus on ourselves, even just for a little while every day, we will not only be better partners, friends and co-workers, but we will also be better able to do our job.
- Practicing Self-Care helps us to better care for others. No one is at their best when they're running on empty. Self-care lets you replenish your energy and manage your stress so that you can care for others more fully.
- Practicing Self-Care helps us to enjoy life more. When you feel better physcially, mentally, emotionally and have inner peace and calm of spirit you will enjoy your life more. As the only one responsible for your well-being, it's important to spend a little time every day tending to your needs.
No two approaches to self-care activities and rituals are alike….and that’s okay! An activity you really enjoy for self-care purposes may leave your best friend feeling bored. You may see your sibling engaging in a self-care activity that baffles you because you don’t understand why they find it so relaxing. Regardless of the situation, they all illustrate an important point: it is important to find what self-care activities work best for you in order to reap the most benefits from practicing it!
If you try to choose self-care activities and rituals that aren’t truly delivering you the rest and relaxation you need, they will be ineffective. You may even finish your self-care time feeling even more stressed out and unrested than you did before you started.
The key word in the term “self-care” is “self.” Ignore what society thinks is “supposed” to be relaxing and refreshing or what your friends are doing. Instead, allow yourself to gravitate toward self-care activities that actually interest you and work best for your specific needs for the absolute best results.
Many people find themselves saddled with so many responsibilities, concerns, obligations, tasks, and errands that the idea of practicing self-care on a regular basis seems very unrealistic.
Instead of making time to take care of themselves, they feel like they absolutely must funnel all their time and energy into taking care of whatever demands they’re facing during the day.
Unfortunately, the determination to continue powering through a set of obligations, responsibilities, tasks, or whatever else life brings is unsustainable. Over time, without proper rest and self-care time, you will not be able to maintain this constant, never ending on-the-go lifestyle.
This is why self-care practices and activities should be made into habits and routines. Just as you have habits such as brushing your teeth or packing your bag for work, you should have habits revolving around spending time on self-care.
Make room in your schedule for self-care the same way you’d make room for going to the grocery store or cleaning the house – it is just as important as any of these basic life tasks and deserves your attention.
The essence of self-care is to take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If you’re interested in being healthier, calmer, more centered, and less anxious, there are five areas of self-care you just can’t ignore.
Physical self-care is all about taking care of your body. Examples of physical self-care include getting proper, good quality sleep, regular exercise, avoiding the use of tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, managing stress. eating a balanced diet and having regular health checkups.
Mental And Emotional Self-Care. Mental, or psychological self-care is the first thing people usually associate self-care with because it helps keep your mind and emotional state in good health. One of the most common activities is positive affirmations and learning how to redirect negative self-talk. Other activities include solving puzzles, connecting with people, doing something you enjoy like a particular hobby, being mindful, practicing self-compassion, setting boundaries and saying “no” when you need to take care of yourself, forgiving yourself and setting goals and priorities.
Spiritual self-care is all about taking care of your soul. It’s involves doing the things that nurture your spirit and feed your soul to promote inner peace, calm and serenity. Examples of spiritual self-care include meditation, communing with nature, thinking positive thoughts, disconnecting from devices on a regular basis, regular moments of silence, practicing gratitude and avoiding the news.
Self-care that makes you better on various levels and areas of your life, that relates to your personal happiness and fulfilment include things like perfecting work skills, learning new skills and introspection, personal growth and development.
A large chunk of taking care of yourself relies on the relationship you have with others. Whether it’s family, friends, or colleagues at work, they all have an impact on how you feel about yourself. This is known as social self-care and can include setting boundaries, connecting with loved ones, reviewing the health of your current relationships. seeking out social groups and volunteering.
Many people enjoy engaging in self-care that allows them to experience some alone time.
This is especially true for people who spend a lot of time with other people. For example, busy moms, employees who work with coworkers closely, students, and caregivers are all examples of people who spend a lot of time and energy engaging with other people.
Whether these folks are caring for them, helping them, or interacting with them in some other way, a lot of their time is tied around social interactions and communication, which can feel utterly exhausting.
This is why giving yourself permission to temporarily disconnect from others is important. Being constantly “on call” for others’ needs and requests is stressful and giving yourself time to be alone while you engage in self-care is a great opportunity to give yourself a break from feeling on edge and constantly alert.
To further enhance this type of self-care time, silence your cell phone, avoid checking social media, and mute your email alerts as well – give yourself the full enjoyment of your own company without any outside intrusions.
An excellent way to get the most out of your self-care time is to set and enforce boundaries around it.
For example, you may have friends and loved ones who don’t fully understand why you need alone time or don’t want to go out to an event (remember, self-care is highly personalized – they may enjoy constant company when you need some time to yourself to feel refreshed again). This is where setting and enforcing boundaries becomes important.
When you set a boundary, you explain to another person exactly what you need from them in regard to a specific part of your life. In the realm of self-care, you may explain to a loved one that you need some alone time to destress after a long day.
Once you set this boundary by explaining it to them and communicating it clearly, enforce it by not allowing them to cross it. If they try to pressure you into giving in to whatever they want you to do that impedes your self-care, explain to them that you are serious and stick to your boundary.
As we’ve discussed self-care is an important component of your overall health. When we get caught up in taking care of everyone else in our lives, it is easy to forget that we need some care as well. We can’t be everything to everyone all the time. We need a break on occasion, a time to be ourselves and have some fun too.
I would like to share with you five self-soothing techniques that might help.
No. 1 Change Your Environment
When you are feeling overwhelmed and about ready to snap, it may be time to change the environment. It doesn’t have to be a huge change. If you are inside, go to a different room and get away from the trigger that makes you feel stressed. Consider going outside and spending a few minutes with nature. Changing up your environment is the key to giving you something new to focus on and get a breather.
No. 2 Stretch the Body
Negative energy can get caught in our bodies, making it hard to focus and feel good about ourselves. On those days when you feel tense and tired and find yourself snapping at everyone, but you don’t have a lot of time for self-care, stretching can be a good choice. A few minutes of stretching the body out can release the tension and makes you feel less stressed and anxious as well.
No. 3 Take a Warm Bath or Shower
Another thing that you can try is taking a warm bath or shower. Turn the heat up nice and high, or to the temperature that you like, and bring out the special bubbles or body wash. Use a fresh, soft, warm towel when you are done so you can feel truly pampered and amazing.
Take a few minutes each day to meditate and see how it can make you feel better in no time. Meditation can help you focus on the present, letting go of the past and stopping some of your worry about the future all at the same time. Five to ten minutes is plenty to start, though you should schedule a bit more time for those tough days that cause you stress.
No. 5 Journaling
Get all of those emotions out on paper and see how they tend to disappear in no time. Journaling is a great way to take those emotions out and to let all those thoughts out of your head. We can often get stuck in our heads, worrying about what will happen or thinking about what went wrong during the day. Writing the information out will give us a chance to let go of it all and focus more on the present. And many people find that journaling in itself is relaxing and soothing.
As adults, we need to take the time to work on self-soothing behaviors as some of our self-care routines. We have a million things to get done during the day, which makes it easy for us to forget about taking care of ourselves. By trying some of the self-soothing techniques you can work more on your self-care and see the best results in the process.
If you take away only one thing from today’s episode I hope it’s that self-care is very important for anyone, and that it is key to protect the health of our bodies, minds and spirits. Now, go take care of yourself, I’m off to do the same!
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