What Is Self-Care?
If you want to feel better now self-care is one of the best ways to accomplish that. Self-care is finally getting the attention it deserves with more research being devoted to this worthy subject because the benefits are extraordinary. I am a huge fan of self-care and engage in self-care actions myself on a daily basis, which might be one reason that people often think that I am years younger than I actually am. As we continue the August Year of Freedom theme of being Awake & Aware (don’t forget to enter the Giveaway to win free stuff), I hope you will read this with an open mind and consider the information I am providing because this is extremely important.
Self-care as a noun is defined as: (1) the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; and (2) the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. What self-care looks like in actuality is different from person to person yet there are some research-based actions that are a solid foundation for taking care of yourself. I will start by giving you some of the major benefits of self-care in the hopes that this will get your engines running and give you some motivation to get started in self-care.
Benefits of Self-Care
You will feel better.
It helps keep you healthy.
It increases your psychological well-being (your mental health).
It increases your motivation.
It makes it easier to deal with stressful situations.
It helps you be more productive.
It boosts your immune system by activating your parasympathetic nervous system giving you resistance to disease.
It increases your self-esteem.
It increases your self-awareness.
It increases your energy.
It can reduce psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety, worry, etc.).
It can lower your healthcare costs.
It helps promote a healthy relationship with yourself (self-love, self-compassion, self-kindness).
Other people benefit when you feel good about yourself and are taking care of yourself.
It helps increase your resilience.
It might help you look younger.
Now, let that list sink in deep. Pause. Would you like to feel better? Would you like to have an easier time when stressful things happen? Would you like to be more productive and have more energy? Would you like to have more resistance to disease? Do you want to be healthy? It’s a robust list of benefits. So why wouldn’t you just do everything you could to take self-care actions?
Obstacles to Self-Care:
They don’t have time.
Their comfort zone does not include self-care.
They lack motivation.
They are attached to unhealthy behaviors.
They don’t feel that they are “worth it” on some level.
They have never seen self-care role modeled so they are simply unaware of it.
They have difficulty maintaining healthy behaviors overtime.
They prioritize other people over themselves.
They are engaging in a form of self-sabotage by not caring for themselves.
They lack some form of support or encouragement to change.
Sleep: One easy way to increase your self-care is to get more sleep. The research is conclusive that making sure that you get both enough sleep (quantity of sleep) and good sound sleep (quality of sleep) is by far one of the key ways to improve your health and vitality because the only time your body can repair itself is when you are sleeping. If you are too busy to get more sleep then I would urge you to work on your time management skills because increasing your time management abilities will free up some time, which you can then use for sleeping! You will never regret making this a priority.
Diet & Nutrition: You eat and drink food every day. That’s just a fact of life. Your body depends on nutrition from your food to stay healthy. Any little changes you make to improve your diet and provide better nutrition for your body will yield big results. If you became awake and aware to what you are eating and make some substitutions throughout the day, it would add up. If you want to avoid cancer and other very significant health problems focusing on your nutrition is a proven way to do that because there is a direct relationship between cancer and nutrition in the cancer research that I have amassed over the last 16 years. I eat reasonably well and I also take supplements based on what I have learned over the last few decades.
Move Your Body: Moving your body creates a chain reaction of positive benefits in your body. Walking is one amazing way to move your body and get the benefits of exercise without stressing the body. I have a personal goal of walking 12,000 steps a day, which is 6 miles. I don’t accomplish that every single day, but I get there more often than not. Make it a goal to walk more or find some form of exercise that you enjoy and then do it as much as you can. Make it fun because you are more likely to do it if you can work fun into it.
Grooming: Taking a hot shower or bath, doing your personal grooming, putting on a nice outfit will actually make you feel better. I am a huge fan of doing personal grooming on a daily basis because it simply feels better. Look your best and you will feel better.
Environment: Take a look at your surroundings – where you live, your car or vehicle, all the places that you spend time in. Are they comforting? Visually appealing? Clean and organized? It is well established that people feel better when their environment is clean, organized and appealing. Over time you can get to work on cleaning and organizing your space.
Suicide Warning/Mental Health Waiver
If you have any thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or others please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911 immediately. Please call someone, tell someone or post it on social media and ask for help right now! We have more people suffering from depression, anxiety, and negative emotions than ever before, which means that you are in good company. I am asking that you take a specific action if you are feeling suicidal or that harming yourself because your life matters more than you realize and because there is help available to you. I am not a licensed mental health professional or in the field of medicine. You should get your medical advice from a licensed medical professional. Although my posts are research and experience based, they do not constitute medical advice since I am not a medical professional in any capacity.
Increase your emotional vocabulary: Print out an emotional vocabulary sheet from the internet and start increasing your ability to pinpoint not only the emotions that you are feeling but the intensity as well. I have a YouTube video on this to help you. We live in a world of language and the more you can identify your emotions the better you will be at dealing with them.
Learn how to process and manage your emotions: You don’t have to be held hostage to your emotions. You can actually learn to process and manage then in such a way that you are not victim to your feelings. This is a skill set that anyone can learn. In the meantime, while you are growing and developing new skills, learning how to flip the switch on your emotions can be very helpful.
Use Affirmations to rewire your brain: You can use affirmations to rewire your brain without having to unpack your pain, traumas, betrayals or other negative things. An affirmation is a short sentence or phrase that helps to build your self-esteem and help you feel better, which you can watch in this video.
Ditch the negative thinking, catastrophizing, or disempowering beliefs: You won’t feel good if negative thoughts are ruminating around in your head, if you are catastrophizing, or if you engage in disempowering thoughts or beliefs. That’s just not helpful. You can turn that around. I would suggest doing affirmations multiple times a day until you have turned the corner.
Boundaries are critical to self-care because they establish guidelines and practices that lead to good mental health and well-being. Poor boundaries can lead to resentment, anger, burnout and other negative consequences. If you are unfamiliar with the term boundaries – well you are in good company. It’s not something that we talk about too often in society, but we definitely should. Boundaries help set limits for what you will and won’t do, what you will or won’t tolerate, who is responsible for what, and so much more. Boundaries are personal and vary. What is important is that you have them in some form.
Learn to Become Assertive
Assertiveness goes a long way to help you implement and maintain boundaries. The healthiest position in life is to be assertive as opposed to passive or aggressive. There are excellent books available on the difference between being passive, assertive, or aggressive. There is actually a huge difference. Many interpersonal relationship problems could be resolved through assertiveness and boundaries. If you are not in a position to be assertive in. your life right now, perhaps you could take it on in this Year of Freedom because I promise you that you being able to be assertive in your life will give you a lot of freedom.
This is your sacred space. For some of you it is your relationship with God. For some of you, I don’t know what it is. For me it is my relationship with God and Jesus Christ and it is my relationship with following my heart. My religious beliefs provide the guidelines for my behaviors, which makes life so much easier if I can be frank. Having solid religious beliefs eliminates confusion and provides clear and compelling rules for living. It’s really very helpful. Plus, when you believe in God, then “With God, ALL things are possible”, which is like have a super power! It’s totally cool.
Life Plan/Vision/Road Map
A life plan, vision or road map will provide three key things that are extremely helpful to self-care and feeling happy: it provides motivation; it provides a source of happiness; and it provides clarity. You can also see my video on this topic. This should be something that lights you up, makes you happy, inspires you. I love this subject if you can’t tell!
<h2<Doing What Makes You Happy
When I say, do what makes you happy, I don’t mean at the expense of other people although if you have toxic people in your life they might be unhappy with you taking control of your life and starting to be empowered. I have written about the skill of being able to generate your own happiness, how to be happy when you are suffering, and how to level up your happiness. I trade in happiness. It’s one of my things. I want it to be one of your things. Sprinkle your day, week, and life with the things that make you happy.
Time management gives you the time for self-care. Time management gives you time to execute your life plan, vision or road map for your life. Time management also gives you time for playing, hobbies, socializing – all the good stuff. You want to have a positive relationship to time and time management, to making lists, and begin to learn the techniques that will give you more free time because that will support you in every area of your life.
Get a Reward System
If you are looking to change your behavior it can be extremely helpful to have a personal reward system in place to provide inspiration and motivation. I have personally used a reward system for decades because I know that it works if you have the right rewards. I strongly urge you to have a reward system as you work towards having a life filled with self-care, things that make you happy and are fully empowered to deal with whatever life brings you. Yes, do it!
Other Examples of Self-Care from My Own Life
I do a lot to take care of myself because after all, if I don’t take care of myself who is going to? No one. These are examples of things that I do to take care of myself, which you are free to judge in any capacity. I’m not saying that you should do these things. I’m just sharing some of the practices that I have adopted for my well-being, which work for me or I wouldn’t do them.
Not allowing someone to exploit my generous nature, which could come in the form of saying no to a request that feels exploitive.
Distancing myself from negative people or people who lack integrity or character because that’s just a no-go for me.
Staying clear of people who lack boundaries, who are mean to others or who look down upon other people because that just doesn’t work for me personally.
Being extra compassionate with myself if I have had some added stress or an emotional thing to deal with, which could come in the form of taking a nap, going to bed earlier than normal, or easing up on my schedule.
Being assertive and speaking my truths, which could also come in the form of standing up for myself and not tolerating abusive behaviors from anyone in my life regardless of the relationship.
Terminating “discussions” or “quasi-conversations” where someone is projecting, gaslighting, monsterizing, being irrational or manipulative, which can be done in a very polite but firm way.
Refusing to accept other peoples’ monkeys (not my circus, not my monkeys).
Taking myself out of any situation or setting that feels or appears to be either toxic or somehow unhealthy.
Not holding grudges, which comes in the form of forgiveness and letting things go – a healthy practice that is good for me.
Not taking things personally even IF they were personal.
I don’t put myself in situations that I am clear I won’t enjoy, will be unnecessarily painful, will be disrespected or treated badly unless it can’t be helped, which is highly irregular and extremely infrequent.
Not allowing people to waste my time.
Call to Action:
Yes, I do the self-care actions I have just written about. What can you start doing in the area of self-care? Who can you get to be your buddy? I wrote about buddying up in the last blog post for the Year of Freedom. I was totally serious. Did you get a buddy yet? Right now would be the perfect time to get someone to share your amazing ride to your new life. How can I help you? Who do you know that needs a little nudge in the area of self-care? Share this with your people who need a boost. What are you waiting for? Your life is ready for you to step into with love, happiness and joy.