Self Care is apart of my daily routine. Here’s why…
A few years ago I was enrolled in my doctoral program full-time, working full-time, and because that wasn’t enough, I decided to train for a bodybuilding competition. It should come as no surprise I got extremely sick… bronchitis sick… for the second time. I remember feeling terrible, not because I had an elephant sitting on my chest, couldn’t breathe, was coughing up a lung, or feeling like death. But because all I could eat was saltine crackers and soup.
I was worried that all I was eating were carbs and sodium (irrational right?). It bothered my so much that I actually decided to run 5 miles which was real more of a wog (walk-jog). My doctor, who was conveniently (or inconveniently) my aunts fiancé, said I was knocking on pneumonia door and would be hospitalized if I didn’t “lay my ass down.” I was annoyed but also a little relieved because I could barely function.
However being bed ridden gave me time to really reflect on how I had been treating myself and how well I actually took care of my body, mind, and soul.
Showing up to yoga every other month, shaving my legs infrequently or journaling only when I needed to vent was NOT self care.
Self care was not even a phrase I had in my vocabulary. Had someone asked me back then what I did for self care, I would have said I work out everyday and treat myself to spoonfuls of peanut butter. When it really came down to it, I was less concerned about how healthy I was and more concerned about what my body looked like. I cared more about having the title of doctor and less about the mental and emotional transformation I was going through.
When was the last time you practiced self care?
Let’s start with the basics. When is the last time you got 8 hours of sleep? Or the last time you exercised… multiple days in a row? When is the last time you said no to something you didn’t have the capacity to take on?
As women, we tend not to make self care a priority.
We are caretakers by nature and ironically that means taking care of everyone except for ourselves. I am sure your to-do list does not include take a bubble bath or get a massage. Maybe you are at a point where “wash hair” doesn’t even make the list. Whenever you are short on time it is easy to cut the “less important” items from your list.
We all need to cut that out. The truth is, we can’t properly take care of other people unless we take care of ourselves. The importance of self care is real and it MUST be a priority if you want to look your best, feel your best, be your best, and accomplish your goals for several reasons.
The Importance of Self Care
HEALTHY WORK LIFE BALANCE
Self care allows you to check in with yourself and take time when you are overwhelmed and overworked. Not having a work-life balance can lead to emotional distress, physical exhaustion, lack of focus and productivity, and increased levels of stress or anxiety. In order to stay sharp motivated and healthy you need to set boundaries and take timeouts.
We all know that stress is toxic AF. When you take care of yourself you reduce your stress which boosts your energy, confidence, and mood. Being less stressed will also make your body feel better. The headaches, knots in your back, and other pains are often times either caused by stress or intensified by stress. The things happening in your body are directly related to your stressors (I recommend watching the movie Heal on Netflix).
LIVING IN THE MOMENT
Self care often (not always, we don’t all love running and shit) involves doing something you enjoy or that feels good. It can also mean doing more of what makes you happy or learning new things.
Making self care a priority forces you to stay present and check in with yourself and be aware of changes in your body, your mood, or mental state. Focusing on yourself can help you live your life in a more purposeful way. This is not selfish it is necessary.
There are a lot of ways both big and small to start making self care apart of your routine that affect the wellbeing of your mind, body and soul. To begin small, we are going to focus on 2 areas of self care for your body.
How to Practice Self Care
We are going to do our best Fergi impression and “be up at the gym just workin on our fitness.” Fitness includes both exercise and diet. Exercise is a good place to start, literally. You can implement this into your daily routine now.
I know, not what you wanted to hear and it is counterintuitive to the story I started this post with. However, having a BALANCED workout routine is not only helpful it’s essential. We all know that when you exercise it makes you happier and improves your mood (if you didn’t know welcome to the party). It lowers the levels of hormones that cause stress and heightens our serotonin levels aka the “happy drug.” It reduces your risk of all sorts of health issues like cancer high blood pressure and the list goes on. It also helps your skin and body look sexy AF. This does not have to be overwhelming or mean that you spend two hours in the gym everyday. Start off with 20 minutes 4 days a week. Do something active. Simply move your body.
I am not saying go on a diet. Diets suck and are hard to maintain any results once they are over. Not to mention they are frustrating and can make you feel worse about yourself. When I say diet, I am referring to your lifestyle and relationship with food. You should always be conscious of making healthy choices. You can’t put unleaded gas in a premium car and expect to function at a high level. Your body is premium which means it needs premium fuel. Not to mention it helps with weight control, disease, puts you in a better mood, improves your memory and so on. Now let’s be honest, food itself makes us happy. Donuts, pizza, cookies can all make my day and do on several occasions. The key here is balance. When in doubt follow the 80/20 rule.
R, R & R
Rest Recovery and Relaxation. All of these give you a chance to check in with your body and recharge. How are you feeling? What is your body saying? So many things take your energy and we have a limited amount. We are responsible for replenishing it and two ways easy to implement ways get get back on track are bubble baths and more sleep.
No these are not just good for movie scenes. Bubble baths are like an emotional vacation. The warm water allows your muscles to relax and reducing pain and inflammation. It also helps you breathe easier and improve heart health in a few ways. Warm water makes your heart beat faster, increases your oxygen intake and creates steam which can clear your sinuses and chest. Lastly it is good for you skin. It opens your pores releases toxins and can moisturize your skin. If you are feeling frisky add epsom salt to your bath for some added detox. You can also try taking a bath before bed as the relaxing water will help you sleep. Which leads me into the last easy to implement self care habit.
Not only does getting a good night’s sleep help with the bags you have been packing under your eyes, but it also improves your mood (yes another mood enhancer). Sleep helps with emotional stability making you less irritable, and less stressed. You will also see improved performance, better memory, increased creativity and it sharpens your attention. So take your ass to bed girl! Beauty rest is a real thing!
The importance of self care is simple. It helps you know and honor your worth. Self care helps YOU make YOU a priority. It helps you remember that you are important and you deserve the care you so thoughtfully provide others. Taking care of yourself will boost your confidence and self esteem.