What is Self-Care?
Self-care is exactly what the word says. It is caring for oneself. In today’s day and age, our lives are so busy, and we are expected to do so much in a short period of time, that often we don’t even consider taking a moment to ourselves. Eventually, we burn out. Sometimes, we are able to recognize that, and take some time for ourselves. Other times, it may lead to more serious circumstances such as mental health illness and depression.
You probably have heard the ‘overflowing teacup’ analogy. In order to help others, we first need to fill our own cup. We need to be well ourselves, to have the strength and energy to give what’s overflowing to those around us. If we gave what is in our cup to others, our own supply of energy will be depleted much faster, and we won’t be able to help ourselves, never mind those we love.
I like to think about self-care, as nourishment of my body, mind, and soul. So here are some little, free or inexpensive things you can do, to care for yourself for just a few minutes a day. Because many of these ideas don’t take much time, many experts recommend doing several of these things over the course of the day. My advice would be to try and do at least three things, one from each of the categories below. Nourish all three; your body, mind, and soul every day, and you will see the difference in no time.
Nourishing Your Body
This component of self-care focuses on taking care of your body. When we think about nourishing our body, most often two things come to mind: exercise and food. Below are a few ideas to get you started.
- Go for a walk
- Replaced the doughnut with fruit
- Drink a glass of water right after you wake up
- Take a yoga class
- Take time to eat your dinner, don’t rush
- Stretch for five minutes
- Try a new smoothie
- Go for a bike ride
- Truly savour your dessert
- Try a new exercise video
Nourishing Your Mind
Nourishing your mind is all about forgetting about the stresses of the day and taking a minute or two to allow your mind to relax. Often times it includes reading, listening, watching things that bring us pleasure, or talking to people whose company we enjoy. All that to take our mind off of the daily hurdles. Here are a few examples of things you can do to nourish your mind:
- Listen to an inspirational podcast
- Watch a movie
- Read for fun
- Call a loved one
- Attend a workshop at your local recreation centre
- Write a journal
- Learn a new skill
- Pick up a new hobby
- Go for a coffee with a friend
- Search for pictures of things you enjoy on the Internet and then browse through them
- Plan your next vacation
Nourishing Your Soul
A big part of nourishing your soul is based on gratitude, service to others, and truly getting to know yourself. All those things help us realize, that we are just a little speck in this universe, connected in wonderful ways to everything and everyone around us. There are many different ways to nourish your soul. Some of them include:
- Meditate for five minutes
- Play with your pet
- Write down five things you are grateful for today
- Do a random act of kindness
- Attend prayer service
- Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths
- Donate to a food bank
- Cuddle with your children
- Write a note of encouragement for someone who may need it
- Pay it forward at a drive-through window
Other Ways to Nourish Your Body, Mind, and Soul
There are many other ways to nourish your mind, body, and soul. Some of the activities relax you in more than one way. Self-care also includes pampering yourself in little ways. You could try one or more of these to start with:
- Sleep in
- Get a spa treatment
- Enjoy your favourite gourmet tea or coffee
- Sing along to your radio while driving
- Skype or FaceTime with a friend who lives far away
- Take a bubble bath
- Play board games with your kids
- Go for a drive in the country
- Go on a hike
- Visit a farmers market or a craft fair
- Watch the sunset
- Hug someone
Take the Self-Care Challenge
Regardless of what you choose to do, take a few minutes each day for yourself. I am well aware that it is not an easy task at times. One strategy I have used in the past during my busiest moments, was to actually schedule me-time. It could be a one minute deep breathing session every hour during my workday or a one hour exercise class. Sometimes it is a lunch hour coffee with a friend or simply taking extra 10 minutes to enjoy my dinner. We all have different schedules and different demands on our time. But in order to keep going, to stay positive, and to keep our body, mind and, soul healthy, we need to take care of ourselves.
So I invite you to take a one-week self-care challenge. Print the self-care challenge card found below and see if you can cross out each and every one of the squares within a week. It would mean, that you need to do about four little things for yourself each day. Feel free to swap the ideas on the card with your own or with the ones listed above.
Let me know how it went.