Whether you are a frazzled parent that is thrilled to get your kids back to school or a busy professional that is realizing there’s a little more than 100 days left to this calendar year…. and you still haven’t gotten around to that “self-care” goal you set for yourself back in January.
September is a great time of the year to launch new healthy habits!
First, let’s bust the myth that self-care is selfish. You might think, “who am I to take care of my needs first, when my kids / spouse / coworkers / family / friends need me? Or—I have too much work to do, I don’t have time to take care of myself”.
Consider: You don’t have time to not take care of yourself. (What?)
There’s a saying I have grown to love, “If you don’t make time for your wellness, then, you will eventually need to make time for your sickness”.
Everything else in your life stems from how you feel. When you are feeling healthy, you have the energy and vitality you need to do everything else that matters to you. When you feel healthy and balanced, other people can feel it. When you are a ball of anxiety, exhaustion or frustration, others can feel that too. Taking care of yourself is the greatest gift you can give to those around you.
When you think about it: (I may get some haters with this next sentence, so bare with me….) It is more selfish to not take care of yourself. What? (did she just say that?) “I’m not selfish!” you think to yourself, “I give and give and go and go…I never stop…I’m always giving to others—how can I possibly be selfish?” How can that be?
When you care for yourself, you are investing in the one person that your family loves and depends on the most in the world. You are the person that takes care of your spouse and kids or your elderly parents–if you are not taking care of yourself, then who is? When you care for yourself, you bring a more resilient, focused, and productive version of yourself to your home and workplace each day. You have more grace, energy, and kindness to give back to your colleagues, neighbors, and community.
When you do not take care of yourself, you are not at your best. You are tired and cranky. You upset the people that love and count on you the most. You attempt to pour from an empty cup and whether you realize it or not, everyone else around you will experience a lesser version of you. They are the impact of your months (or years) of built-up self-neglect & stress.
When you can prioritize your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, you become the most energized version of yourself. You now get to give back from an overflowing cup. Others get the best you’ve got—not your leftover crumbs.
If you want to experience the life transformation that comes with consistent self-care, there are a few very simple ways to start putting it into practice.
Here are four suggestions to “keep it simple” with the basic cornerstones of self-care. From each category, consider for yourself which strategy resonates the most for you? What would be the easiest actions for you to start implementing as soon as possible?
Physical Well-Being: Nourishing Your Body
Physical self-care is the cornerstone of overall health. We neglect this pillar by overworking, putting off exercise, eating junk food, and limiting our sleep schedules. Feeding your body with proper nutrition, treating it kindly with regular exercise, and allowing it adequate rest are all methods of showing tenderness to your body and practicing concern for your physical life. You can practice physical well-being by:
- Eating Nutritious Foods: Consume a balanced diet rich in whole foods, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains. Hydration is also key to maintaining your physical health.
- Engaging in Regular Exercise: Aim for regular physical activity that you enjoy. Whether it’s brisk walks, yoga, or dancing, exercise boosts your mood, energy levels, and overall fitness.
- Prioritizing Restful Sleep: Establish a consistent sleep routine that allows you to get 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night. Quality sleep supports your body’s healing and rejuvenation processes.
Mental and Emotional Well-Being: Cultivating Inner Harmony
Caring for your mental and emotional well-being is crucial for managing stress, building resilience, and maintaining a positive outlook. Evidence of a lack of self-care in this area is demonstrated by feelings of anxiety, exhaustion, short temper, forgetfulness, depression, lack of motivation and overall life satisfaction. By practicing these self-care strategies, you can begin to cultivate mental and emotional wellness and balance:
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Dedicate time each day to mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises. These practices help you stay present, reduce anxiety, and enhance emotional balance.
- Set Boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and establish healthy boundaries to protect your mental and emotional space. This prevents burnout, protects your schedule and personal life, and promotes healthy relationships.
- Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your strengths and forgiving yourself for mistakes and learning to rewire the voices in your head bent toward self-criticism.
Social and Interpersonal Connections: Building Meaningful Relationships
Human connections contribute significantly to your well-being and sense of belonging. When we don’t prioritize our relationships, we find ourselves feeling guilty for not spending enough time with our children, spouses, and family, growing more distant from our friends, and even beginning to avoid social interactions entirely. You can begin re-cultivating meaningful relationships by:
- Spending Quality Time Together: Connect with friends, family, and loved ones. Engage in activities that allow you to bond, communicate, and share experiences. Schedule these in advance and commit to them on a calendar or planner.
- Active Listening: Practice active listening in your conversations, get curious about your loved ones, ask questions & listen to people’s responses without judgment; valuing others’ perspectives will foster deeper connections.
- Seeking Support: Reach out for help or guidance when needed. Building a support network ensures you have people to lean on during challenging times. Be vulnerable about where you find yourself, and where you want to be.
Rest and Recreation: Recharging Your Spirit
George Bernard Shaw once said “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing”. This category is my favorite, as it allows me to embrace my inner little kid. Recreation as an adult not only provides rest for your soul: it also gives you full permission and encourages you to play. Allowing yourself moments of creativity and freedom to do the things you love is vital for recharging your spirit, preventing burnout, and staying true to who you are, without the expectations of the world on your shoulders. Try adding some of these practices into your routine, and have fun with it:
- Engage in Hobbies: Dedicate time to activities you enjoy, whether it’s reading, gardening, crafts, painting, cooking, coloring, or playing a musical instrument.
- Unplug and Disconnect: Take breaks from technology to unwind and disconnect from the demands of the digital world. Consider taking a digital sabbath one day a week, if possible—or even putting boundaries on your technology use.
- Nature and Outdoors: Spend time in nature, whether it’s a leisurely walk in the park, a stroll by a lake or beach or a weekend hiking trip. Nature has a calming and rejuvenating effect on the mind and body.
If you desire to practice self-care, and struggle to implement balance in your life, a credentialed and experienced life coach can help provide you with skills, tools, and accountability you need to make your goals a reality and help you to experience empowerment in all four pillars of self-care.
Transform Your Future | (732) 859- 6962