Self care ain’t nothin’ fancy.
It’s the simple act of waking up every morning with the intention that you will DO things throughout the day that will benefit you, and perhaps everyone around you. Those who take care of themselves have the energy to take care of others. It’s like when you’re on an airplane and the stewardess reminds you, in an emergency, to place the oxygen mask on yourself first, before attending to others.
Self care isn’t glamorous.
In fact, some might say it’s downright boring! It could look like something so simple as making your bed every morning. In “Make Your Bed,” Admiral William H. McRaven reminds us to “Start each day with a completed task. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then you can change your life for the better… and maybe the world!”
Self care isn’t impulsive.
It’s habitual, so after you’ve formed the habit of making your bed each morning, you can practice self care in other areas of your life, like proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and hydration. Truly caring for yourself takes undying and underlying discipline! It takes discipline to do the things that are good for us instead of what feels good in the moment.
Self care isn’t selfish.
It is a practice that, if done daily, is not an indulgence. Self care starts by giving yourself permission to invest in yourself – it is the best investment you can make! Rest and relaxation may seem like luxuries for some, but trying to “do it all” all of the time leads to exhaustion and anxiety. Intentionally taking the time for “time-outs,” meditation, leisure and fun can all have a positive effect on our health as well as the health of those around us.
Self care isn’t done by trying.
If you think about the difference between these two sentences – I am going to try to stop drinking during the week, or, I will stop drinking during the week. The latter commands action, a full body response, as the other implies a future thought, stored in your head.
When we say we are trying we don’t really have to do anything. It also provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t accomplish the outcome we say we wanted. Trying might make us feel like we had an out when we fail, but it actually induces the kind of behavior that leads to failure.
Yoda said it best: “Do or Do Not, There is no Try. The difference may only be in your mind, but it has a dramatic impact on the outcome of whatever you set out to do.”
1. Commit to completely eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary. Catch yourself and notice how often this word comes into your mind or out of your mouth. Words are powerful. If you say you are “trying” you are saying there is a strong possibility of you not following through.
2. Keep your eyes on the prize! Take 100 percent responsibility for the outcome of what you want to accomplish. Trying is all in your head. Get out of your head and into your “whole” self. When you are in resistance you are stuck in a rut blaming everyone around you for your inability to follow through on your goals. It takes discipline to take full and complete responsibility for our own well-being.
3. Focus on the small steps forward. This has been proven over and over be the best strategy, verses having lofty goals that are over before you really even started. Small steps are a great example of your steadfast commitment to self care.
4. Ignite your internal Fire! According to traditional Chinese medicine, the Fire element is within you and all around you. It’s the element of transformation and movement, the underlying source that “puts a fire under your butt” when you get super motivated. This is a physiological response and if you don’t have enough of it this may be slowing you down and keeping you in the “Try” zone.
The organ that represents the fire element in Chinese medicine is the heart. You have to have your heart in it to move from the “Try” zone into the “Do” zone.
You can also stoke that inner fire through your food choices. In our diet, the pungent, sour, and salty tastes contain the most fire. Of these, the pungent taste will increase fire the most rapidly, but it is the sour taste that has the greatest long term effect. Pickled foods, yogurt, and foods marinated in vinaigrette are example of sour foods.
So what is self care?
It’s simply an unconditional love for yourself. And when you truly care for yourself, exercising all the discipline that it requires, you rise to a much stronger place to give of yourself to those around you. You will be a happier parent, a more helpful friend, a fully engaged spouse and a healthier human being. You will be in a much better place to make a difference in the world around you when you start with self care!