This article is timely as I just found out that July 24th is international self care day! (who knew there was such a thing?)
If you have read the previous articles on self care, you may have already gotten a better understanding of what it means to practice self care. The last barrier to self care that we are going to explore is the idea that we may not fully comprehend what self care entails or how to incorporate it into our daily routines. However, the barrier of not knowing how to practice self care can be easily overcome with a shift in perspective and a willingness to explore various avenues of nurturing oneself.
Self care encompasses a broad spectrum of activities and behaviours that contribute to our overall well-being. It is important to remember that not every aspect of our lives requires the same level of attention at all times. Let’s consider a few scenarios to illustrate how self care can be tailored to address specific needs.
Suppose you have established a good balance of physical activity in your life (which is one of the ways you can practice self care). You enjoy engaging in activities that keep you moving and you maintain a healthy diet. However, you feel a sense of isolation and detachment from others. In this case, it could be beneficial to direct your energy towards fostering connections with friends, family, or joining support groups. Reconnecting with your friends or engaging in a community organization could also help bridge the gap and enhance your overall well-being. This is one of the reasons we at MD Weight Loss are so passionate about the groups we run in the summer. It provides a space for people to meet others who are struggling but working to improve their health through increased health literacy / education, exercise and social connection.
On the other hand, you may feel emotionally and relationally fulfilled, but notice a decline in your physical well-being due to poor eating habits and a lack of exercise. In this scenario, self care might involve prioritizing your physical health. Consider finding a suitable exercise routine or focusing on improving your diet by incorporating healthier and nourishing foods into your meals. Start small, do what you can and watch as your body responds to the habits you are creating for yourself.
Emotional and Mental Resilience
Perhaps your physical health is not a concern, but you have been struggling emotionally and mentally. Self care, in this case, could involve addressing your emotional well-being, working through grief, and developing healthy coping mechanisms. Engaging in activities such as therapy, journaling, meditation, or seeking support from loved ones can help you navigate these challenges and cultivate emotional resilience.
Regardless of your current circumstances, a fundamental aspect of self care lies in practicing self compassion. As author Lori Deschene aptly stated, “We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” It is crucial to treat ourselves with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness, giving the same grace to ourselves that we offer to those around us. Practicing self-compassion allows us to acknowledge our limitations, embrace our imperfections, and prioritize our well-being without judgment or criticism.
To embark on your self care journey, start by exploring different practices that resonate with you. Experiment with activities that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This could include engaging in regular exercise, allocating time for relaxation and leisure activities, nurturing meaningful relationships, engaging in creative pursuits, seeking therapy or counselling, or adopting mindfulness practices. Remember that self care is a personal journey, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be open to exploring various approaches and adjust them according to your individual needs and preferences. Take small steps each day to prioritize your physical, emotional, and mental health, and watch as self-care becomes an integral part of your daily life, leading to increased happiness, fulfillment, and resilience.