Self Care—Why It’s Important:
Are you someone who enjoys serving or nurturing others? If so, then that is something we have in common. In years past, I have been known to stay up until the wee hours of the morning preparing a variety of tasty dishes and desserts and setting festive tables for fifteen or more people who would be coming to our home to enjoy holiday dinners. The groups got smaller over the years, but I added two or three fun and fancy tea parties throughout the year. I love helping others feel welcomed and special. I also enjoy doing something spontaneously, filling a need or desire for someone. Perhaps you can relate. If so, it’s part of who we are. Or, more importantly, who we choose to be. But, in the process of filling the cups of others, how do we ensure we aren’t emptying our own? There are four areas of self care I like to inventory on a regular basis, to be sure I am taking good care of myself. They are, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. All are important.
Physical: I am not a workout maven, but I always want my body to be strong and healthy. I’ll bet you want that for yourself as well. Whether you are an ardent hiker, a gym rat, love to dance, (my favorite), or someone who enjoys a good walk as exercise, just start moving. You know your body and what it can do. And, the interesting thing is, the more consistent we are, the more our bodies allow us to do. Physical activity of any kind helps the body produce endorphins—the “feel good” hormones. Another aspect of physical care is, the food and beverages we consume. I don’t like diets, and unless you are on one for medical reasons, I suggest just giving thoughtful consideration to what you are eating and drinking and trying to strike a balance in your daily consumption. Instead of thinking of food as good or bad, try thinking in terms of what it will do for you. Understanding the importance of portion control is a good idea, too. When we are making healthy food choices regularly, we can also choose to enjoy that favorite dessert or beverage from time to time. The longer we are on the planet, the more our physical bodies show their appreciation for the care and attention we give them. Oh, and take time to love your body for all it allows you to do each day.
Mental: Taking care of ourselves mentally is important, because our thoughts are always creating our realities. If I am tired, bored, or something isn’t going quite right in my life, I take time to check in with my thoughts. When I do, I will find I have allowed something negative to sneak into my creative process. I love knowing I can swap negative thoughts for positive ones. My positive thoughts begin demonstrating in wonderful ways in my life. A positive mental attitude helps us serve and nurture others with love and joy, rather than resentment. Another aspect of mental self care is paying attention to what we are reading and watching on TV. What we are feeding our minds is as important as what we are feeding our bodies.
Emotional: Basically, I have found my emotional well being is tied less to what others think of me than to what I think of myself. When I am serving or nurturing another, it comes from a place of love, compassion, and joy. I hope that’s true for you as well. If we are trying to win acceptance or approval, we will often be left feeling we fell short or didn’t measure up. Releasing toxic situations or relationships is taking care of our emotional well being. Using our talents and abilities with confidence, courage, and joy, strengthens our emotional well being. Speaking to and about ourselves affirmatively strengthens us emotionally, too.
Spiritual: Maintaining and growing spiritually, makes caring for myself physically, mentally, and emotionally so much easier. I believe the spirit is the workshop, the creative source for all that is good and perfect in my life. No matter what your belief system, if you aren’t nurturing and growing your spirit, you are not opening the door to your greatest potential in life. For me, time spent in prayer and meditation each day refreshes me mentally, connects me to the physical aspects of my life, and gives me emotional peace. It allows me to love myself right where I am, without judgement, blame, or guilt. When we find ourselves in this place, our cups are full, we are caring for ourselves, and we have more to offer others as well.