Self care is all the rage right now and for good reason.
According to the 2017 American Psychological Association Stress in America survey, the number of people in the US who have experienced a stress symptom within the past month has jumped from 71% in 2016 to 75% in 2017, which they are calling a significant increase. And, I don’t know about you, but I am definitely included in that statistic.
Our bodies are in this constant go-go-go state and today’s society is always pushing us to multitask, hurry up, be the best, help others, and succeed that it causes our nervous system to literally think we are in danger – and we kind of are. We are so focused on the doing that we completely lose sight of our being.
The point of life has never been to give everything of yourself to everyone and everything else so that we are left depleted, frustrated, annoyed, crabby, and low on fuel. This is not how you become your you-iest you.
If we aren’t happy, healthy, strong, and energized then we aren’t going to be of any help to anybody or anything else.
When I take time to care for myself I am calm(er), focused, joyful, energized, positive, and more fun to be around. This makes it so much easier for me to build my relationships and focus on my sense of purpose, health, and so many other things.
Proper self care is so important but do we really know what it means or do we just use it as a good excuse to book a spa day or spend money on a big vacation?
Today’s world definitely has everyone looking for quick fixes like these. But, self care is not a trendy new herb or powder that you drink in the morning that magically makes you a superhero. It’s about so much more than just “treating yo’ self” every now and then.
Self care requires us to truly carve out time to be fully focused on our well-being and what our bodies and minds are trying to tell us. You will not come back from your dream vacation any more relaxed than you left if you don’t take time to look inward and actively work to let go of your worries and anxiety.
Self care should really be a preventative part of your daily routine and not just something that you turn to when you’re already low on fuel and crying for help. Trust me, I had to learn this the hard way.
Self care is not nearly as new of a concept as that coffee scrub wrap that your favorite spa is offering. In its original days, it was an ancient way of life that was traditionally built on keeping ourselves socially intune with the world while building our strength and resilience. inside of our mind, body, and soul as a whole.
It’s about the choices that we make each and every day, the boundaries that we set, and our constant dedication to ourselves. It can be any practice or activity that helps us become the us that we want to be. It’s having the self-awareness to know what makes us truly feel our best. It can cost nothing or be expensive. It can be taking a hike or taking a nap. Whatever makes you genuinely feel good.
However, we need to care for all parts of ourselves in order to reap all of the benefits of self care. Self care requires us to tend to and listen for what our mind, body, and soul really need in order to be fully cared for in our unique way.
Everyone is different and we need to acknowledge that. What works for someone might not work for you. If you don’t like the scent of lavender, it won’t benefit you no matter how much science says it is calming.
I’ve never enjoyed taking a bath. I never understood the idea of sitting in your own filth and never enjoyed that gritty feeling on the bottom of the tub. But, when me and Scott moved into a new house with a beautiful new tub I thought, “Now is time for me to pick up this ‘self care’ routine.” I truly thought that by soaking in this tub I would magically feel better like it is advertised in so many places. But, a lot of the time I was left feeling bored and a little bit trapped, like I HAD to stay in there for a certain amount of time.
Just because a bath works for some people and does actually have its benefits for the body, my mind and soul were totally suffering in the process. It took me a little to realize that this was just doing me a disservice by forcing it upon myself and kind of just trying to fit in with what “normal” people find relaxing.
There are some things that I enjoy doing because they connect me with people that I love. I relax on the couch and watch Food Network because it reminds me of being at my parents house with my family. It’s letting my body and mind relax while warming my soul.
There are some things that I enjoy doing that some people consider to be chores. Organizing and cleaning the house organizes my mind and helps me focus. I pretty much always start my week with this in some way or another.
Not every part of your self care routine needs to attend to your mind, body, and soul all at once. They can only cover one or two but make sure that you don’t forget to hit the third later.
But remember, we can’t just mindlessly move through these things. To truly see all of the benefits we need to bring in this consciousness aspect that cools and calms the nervous system. This can be something that links you to a memory or something that before you do it, you take a moment to realize how lucky you actually are to be able to take the time for that activity. By doing these things consciously we change everything.
I challenge you to take your self care routine deeper. Listen intently to yourself as you experiment with different things that satisfy your mind, body, and soul and slowly begin to implement them into your routine one at a time.
Have a trip planned? Take time to pause and have gratitude for that fact that you were able to travel and see if you have any less anxiety on your way back.
Recall things that you used to enjoy and carve out time on your calendar to bring them back into your life.
Every day, make the commitment to work toward building a stronger relationship with yourself. Be patient and know that while changes might not be immediate, they will be meaningful and sustaining over time.