Self-care is currently a buzzword in the wellness industry. The importance of taking time to care for one’s self has never been greater. The pace and priorities which shape the lives of individuals has changed over the last fifteen to twenty years, leading to increased levels of stress, overwhelm, physical and emotional fatigue.
Certainly, popular self-care strategies like spending a day at a spa and jaunting to the Bahamas for the weekend help with relieving some short term stress, but all too often we return after these experiences somewhat refreshed but not without that all too familiar dread that it’s only a matter of time before we find ourselves back where we started.
True self care is a shift in mindset and reorganizing how you include and digest external information from the world – not simply just escaping from it. It is creating an internal architecture that adapts and aligns to your deepest needs and filters the world through that viewpoint.
Here are a few of my favorite self-care habits that are simple and dare I say, much more cost effective:
1. Minimize Sensory Overconsumption – Whether it is food, clothing or social media, inundating our senses with mindless information creates a “stressful environment” for our bodies and minds. The brain and gut work closely together to process content from the outside and integrate it into the system. The goal is for the information we digest and absorb to support ease and balance rather than anxiety and over analysis. Notice what happens if you limit consumption of social media to four times a week. The result is more space from the inside and therefore less of a need to take space from the outside.
2. Practice Being in Energy Flow – As urban dwellers, we have a routine. If we plan to take a spin class at 6am, no matter what we are going to be there even if we are fatigued, drained or didn’t sleep at all. However, I beg you to reconsider. Self-care means attending to the truth of the moment and honoring its needs. In my life, I take inventory and respect my energy level every morning. No matter what. Now, I understand there are responsibilities to attend to of course, so we cannot just drop everything, but I advise you to design your supporting daily activities in a manner that is nourishes rather than overextends. For me, If I am feeling low energy in the morning, I practice yin or a slower yoga and breathwork practice. If I have more energy flowing, I can practice Ashtanga or go to the gym.
3. Practice Emotional Generosity – Self-care is about self-love. Self-love is that feeling of connection and universal belonging. We often think self-care is doing something healthy and kind to ourselves but sharing our heart with another person from a place of authenticity is one of my favorite ways to fill up the tank – if you let it be so! Make it a practice. Tell one person that you love every day that you love them, and when they say it back, thank them and take a moment to reinforce how deserving you are of feeling loved in return.
4. Honor Thy Commitments to Thyself – This one is the hardest, yet often yields the greatest reward. Sometimes even traditional self-care strategies like shopping and bodywork can simply be distractions from the stress derived from the commitments we aren’t keeping to ourselves. Decide which one or two commitments you can honor daily that are small and attainable, be it making the bed, or cooking a meal instead of buying takeout. Then tackle a small piece of a larger commitment daily – such as writing one paragraph for the book you are hoping to complete or practicing that new instrument for 15 minutes.
It is so true that happiness comes from within, and self-care is truly the foundation. When I started to really get honest about what makes me happy and what throws me off, some of it felt too basic to be “self-care”. It felt simplistic. But this is the rub. The art of self-care is in caring about all the things that matter to you and making that important.