I’m taking a break from my gut health series to write about something that has been on my mind: self-care. Self-care is vital to our health and, in many ways, is the linchpin of creating and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. And while it’s one of those things that is talked about ad nauseam in health blogs and in health-focused magazines, it’s really hard to get people to actually do it.
In fact, self-care might be the most challenging aspect of health for my clients. I preach it because I know how important it is, but even I can have a hard time incorporating it into my life. In fact, over the last month I’ve not tended to myself at all. And I have excuses. There’s my business and volunteer commitments, unexpected travel, illness, and now a toddler that can scale just about anything. In the face of all that, I just let self-care fall off the list. And you know what? It did not serve me. Here I was trying to serve everyone else, but I had nothing to give. I did it; I took care of those diverse needs, but I wasn’t eating as well as I should or exercising enough. I felt overwhelmed; I had very little patience for those around me and started to seriously feel resentful. I don’t know about you, but this is not how I want to live my life.
Part of the challenge of incorporating self-care into our lives is that we don’t really know how to do it. When pushed to say what we think it is, we tend to think about eating right and exercising. While there is truth in that, it goes a little deeper. It’s really about the why and how. Self-care requires a shift in our thinking. We prepare good food or exercise not because we are beating ourselves into submission but because we know that when we eat well and move our bodies we feel better and we can handle our lives with more grace. It’s about turning off the T.V. and the phone at the end of a long day and curling up with a good book so that we can get deeper, more restful sleep. It’s meditating, spending time with friends that lift us up, and paying attention to and managing our stress. It’s about making those things that build us up and nourish our body and mind a priority.
Here are a few tips for incorporating self-care into your life.
- Pick your self-care. Decide on one or two self-care practices you want to work into your life. Maybe it’s just using all that fancy face washing things you got for Christmas or maybe it’s practicing yoga daily. Pick something that will nourish you.
- Schedule it. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, put it on your calendar each day and treat it like you would a meeting with your boss.
- DO IT! Seriously, you will always have too many things on your list and not enough time. What does it hurt to take half and hour or less to focus on your health? Nothing. It hurts nothing.
If you need help figuring out how to get self-care into your life or are ready to transform your health, contact me for a free consultation.
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