“Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to take care of others.” ~Bryant McGill
Happy Hump Day y’all! I hope you’re all still buzzing with 2016 new year magic. Today I wanted to talk about self care. This is a phrase thrown around a lot in the counseling world, and while I’m sure many people may know and understand what this means; it could sound a little bland or daunting. For starters, self care is an intentional action to take care of your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. Many people consider themselves too busy, or have too long of a to-do list, or have kids or pets that need to be taken care of, instead. But today, I hope that you will realize that the word instead is not helpful in this case — we will use the word also. You may have to go to the bank, make dinner for your family, and put together a broken shelf, and you can also read a great book at the end of the day. You may have many meetings and appointments during work, and you can also take a brief walk outside to clear your head.
But… why? What’s the point of doing these nice things and carving out precious time to do these intentional positive actions? To recharge your battery and get you feeling connected to yourself. To allow yourself to enjoy what you do, to relax and destress, to take space from the responsibilities and craziness of everyday life. Some people consider this self-indilgent, but think about it this way- you can only take care of others if you first take care of yourself. It’s like when you’re on an airplane and you see the air mask demonstration. The flight attendants say to put on your air mask first before helping others. I remember as a kid thinking that that’s really selfish and mean, but as an older and wiser (somewhat) person, I know that you have to save yourself before you can be effective at saving others. Obviously, that is an extreme example, yet the metaphor works. You have to practice what you preach and be a good role model, and that starts by allowing yourself a routine self care ritual.
Make a list of the actions you can do to take care of yourself. It can be something really small, like listening to a favorite song or staring at the sky for a few breaths, to something big, like booking a spontaneous flight to the opposite coast for an adventure. Choose things that will nourish your soul, and reduce stress, not create it. For example, if your only self care ritual involves watching tv, you may get extremely caught up with the show’s drama and not feel rejuvenated or full of positive energy afterwards. While tv may be a quick release from the stress in the moment, think of it this way: the easiest path leads to the hardest life, and the hardest path leads to the easiest life. This is not to say that I believe your self care rituals should be really difficult, challenging or soul sucking. But it is different to watch mindless tv for hours on end and feel completely numbed from your life, than to talk a meditative walk in nature that required you to put on multiple layers and say goodbye to your cellphone for a bit.
Here is an incredible chart of ways that you can start including self care into your daily life… I guarantee you will find something that works for you!
What can you do for self care today?