Self-Help: Self Care
Some people may think self care or nurturing is just for the fragile; the "weak willed" or "wimps". It certainly couldn't be for strong, ambitious college men and women.
Actually, it is a vital part of maintaining good health and a vibrant life. It's not just an occasional manicure or a 6-pack. Building up a repertoire of reliable self care habits now can affect your quality of life today, and in the future.
If it's not a manicure, what is it? Self care is a way of living that incorporates behaviors that help you to be refreshed, replenish your personal motivation, and grow as a person.
It is the equivalent of keeping your car filled with gas so that you are ready to "motor" when you want to go somewhere!
Three Main Components of Self Care
Here are some examples of self care in action:
Moving your body, whether in some structured sport or exercise, or just dancing around, stretching, or walking to the park to feed the ducks.
Give it something good to eat, that doesn't come in a bag or box from a drive through. Cook it yourself; take time for yourself, not just what ever is the fastest thing. Get a massage or something to wear that has great texture and color. Go to the doctor when you are sick.
Be accepting, kind, easy to forgive yourself. How would you treat a good friend who needed some TLC? Take every 3rd "I should" out of your vocabulary and say "no" at least once a week! Reasonable expectations.
This doesn't mean the end of motivation or working hard. The point is to stretch yourself, not break yourself. Set limits if that is what you need; overindulgence is not nurturing either.
Get enough people in your life, that you can laugh with, share that pizza with, talk to seriously when an occasion comes up, who respect you and don't expect you to do all the work of keeping up the friendship or relationship.
Do a variety of things for fun and stimulation, some that you can do with others, and some to do alone. Having trouble coming up with an idea? Remember things you liked when you were a child, but have long ago given up. Get the creative juices flowing? Paint, draw, get out the hammer and nails and construct something.
Develop a practice that exercises your mind and soul. However you define that.
Whether it is a routine of prayer, meditation, attending services, that build up your spirit and faith with like minded others, exploration of yourself that helps you to identify your values and priorities, reading wisdom literature and discussions with others that deepen your knowledge of yourself and the universe, finding a way to contribute to the well being of others.
Dirty Rumors about Self Care
Isn't it Selfish to Put Myself First?
Some others may consider Self Care the territory of the self involved, who have little consideration for others around them.
Wrong again! Taking care of your needs lays in a balanced, steady place on the middle of a continuum, with intense selfishness on one end, and extreme sacrificing what you need or want for others' sake on the other end.
In fact, nurturing oneself is a key factor in being able to keep up strength, resolve, motivation and inner resources to continue to give to others, whether that be your immediate partner, family and other important people in your inner circle, or the larger community around you.
You might consider that doing too much for others could deprive them of the opportunity to learn how to provide their own self care.
I Don't Have Time to Take Care of Myself!
If you do a "self care audit", you will likely find that some of the activities you spend your time on now, could be better spent "recharging your own battery" Studies show that mental acuity decreases after a short period of concentrated study.
You likely need more true breaks, not just time killers stolen from study time you rarely spend in any really relaxing or satisfying recreation.
All the time management/ life goal experts say put your Self Care into your schedule, just like another class or job shift. How many times do we have to hear, "make a commitment to yourself" before we believe it?
My "Self Care" comes on the tube at 11:30 every night and is accompanied by a large pepperoni. Isn't that enough?
That may be just the ticket for some nights, but do you have enough nurturing choices for the other nights of the week? While not discounting the value of building up your knowledge of 1950's television trivia, the consequences of making this a nightly habit might include indigestion, sleep loss, weight gain, oversleeping in the morning, a feeling of grogginess and little energy lingering the next day.
Maybe you could use some alternatives? Perhaps you could use the comfort of a cozy chat with a special person, or some quiet time with your mind engaged — not just checked out.
Do I Have to Do It Alone?
No, although the best balance is achieved with a combination of time shared with others, as well as some time alone. Your attitude of looking for opportunities to practice Self Care can go with you into almost anywhere.
Still Skeptical? Experiment! Set up a 30 day trial and see how you feel before and after.