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“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what's left of you.” ~ Katie Reed
Do you remember the classic holiday movie, "A Christmas Story"? It's the one that TBS airs for a full 24 hours straight every Christmas.You know the one with Ralphie and his coveted Red Ryder BB gun.
But have you ever stopped to think about Ralphie's mom? She's the disheveled but loving homemaker, someone who the narrator points out "hadn't sat down to a hot meal in his memory."
She gave tirelessly and never asked for anything in return. While it may not strike you as odd in the movie, it's a reflection of traditional gender roles in America that have perpetuated a society where taking a break is almost sacrilegious. This mentality has been handed down from generation to generation, and as the years have passed, we've only gotten busier. We've even enlisted our partners to help manage various commitments, and with multiple kids in the picture, the juggling act becomes even more challenging. Add your own commitments like work, exercise, errands, bills, and before you know it, there's no time left for yourself. You end up merely existing on this planet rather than truly living.
In the relentless pursuit of busyness, we often forget to take care of ourselves. Fast food replaces real, wholesome meals, caffeine becomes our lifeline due to lack of sleep, and we find ourselves glued to screens for most of the day. We play the comparison game both in real life and on social media. We're stretched thin, running from one commitment to another, and we put ourselves last, if we even consider ourselves at all.
That's where self-care comes in. Self-care is about prioritizing your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It's not selfish; it's about reclaiming time for yourself to achieve balance in your life. You've probably heard more about this topic recently because it's gaining popularity. Forbes, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, LifeHacker, and numerous other sites have all covered self-care in recent years.
Self-care is often described as "recharging your batteries" or "filling your cup," and these metaphors are apt. You can't expect to give your all to others when your own battery is running on empty or your cup is barely filled. Every daily activity drains your energy and depletes your emotional reservoir. By practicing self-care regularly, you ensure that your batteries stay charged, and your cup remains full.
Self-care should encompass physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions to create a well-rounded sense of balance.
Physical self-care is perhaps the most straightforward. These are activities you can incorporate into your daily, weekly, or monthly routine to reduce stress, refocus, and rejuvenate.
Massage/Spa Treatments: These are a well-known form of self-care, but they don't have to be a luxury. Schedule a treatment weekly to reap the best results and keep yourself relaxed and refreshed. From mud baths to float tanks, deep tissue massages to hot stone massages, there are various options to release tension and toxins from your body.
Dry Brushing: This quick and beneficial practice exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores, stimulates the lymphatic system to remove toxins, and can be incorporated into your morning routine.
Stretching: Even if you're not a fitness enthusiast, regular stretching improves posture, increases energy, relaxes the mind, and relieves muscle tension. Just 10 minutes of stretching 2-3 times per week can make a significant difference.
Clean Up Your Diet: Enhance the nutrient density of your daily diet by increasing your intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants through vegetables and whole foods. Gradually incorporate more variety into your meals to boost your overall health.
Drink More Water: Proper hydration not only keeps you energized but also improves nutrient absorption and overall well-being.
Diffuse Essential Oils: High-quality essential oils can improve mood, aid relaxation, enhance cognitive function, and provide drug-free pain relief while adding a pleasant aroma to your environment.
Emotional self-care involves more abstract but equally vital practices:
Practice Gratitude: Start your day by jotting down 3-5 things you're grateful for in a journal. Keep it fresh and diverse to foster a positive outlook.
Engage in Self-Love: Compliment yourself daily, write self-affirmations, connect with your body, and practice self-love to build a foundation for loving others.
Banish Negativity: Reframe your thoughts to eliminate negative self-talk and focus on facts rather than distorted perceptions.
Visualize Your Future: Picture where you want to be a year from now and create an action-driven timeline to make that vision a reality.
Spiritual self-care may seem unconventional, but it's essential for grounding yourself, discovering your passions, and achieving deep relaxation:
Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and goals can declutter your mind, promote mindfulness, and help you develop self-discipline. Consider starting with a simple journal like the 5 Minute Journal.
Meditation: Meditation is a powerful tool for improving self-awareness, reducing stress, and enhancing emotional health. Find a quiet space, clear your mind, and practice being present.
Nature Walks: Spending time in nature elevates your mood, allows you to breathe in fresh air and vitamin D from the sun, and provides clarity and stress relief.
Mindful Breathing: Focusing on your breath can reduce stress and anxiety, improve breathing patterns, and help you stay calm in challenging situations.
This list doesn't cover every self-care technique, but it's a great starting point to reclaim time for yourself and regularly recharge your batteries. Whether your goals are performance-driven, aesthetic-focused, or simply about finding happiness and health, incorporating self-care into your daily, weekly, and monthly routine will help you achieve them more efficiently. Don't follow in the footsteps of Ralphie's mom; prioritize yourself, and you'll reach your goals faster while becoming a healthier and happier version of yourself.
Yours in Imperfect (giving back to yourself) Action,
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