When I first got the idea to write about self-care, I had just completed my yoga routine and was sitting up on my mat reflecting and mulling over some ideas. I generally prefer to do a power yoga class in the morning because it helps to energize me and get me in the right frame of mind to begin my day but I failed to do so that morning. Therefore, I made up for it with an evening practice. I felt a sense of satisfaction, release, ease, and peace in my body and my mind. I remember thinking, “everyone should feel like this, it is an excellent way to take care of oneself.” It is then that my mind drifted to self-care, what it means and what I believe it should mean.
I hesitated for a week to write on the topic, telling myself that my blog’s focus is on inspiration and personal growth and development, therefore my audience may find the topic frivolous and not appreciate it. The fact is self-care is not frivolous at all. To be effective on our journey of personal growth and development, in order to achieve our goals and experience the success we want, we must take good care of ourselves.
To be effective on our journey of personal growth and development, in order to achieve our goals and experience the success we want, we must take good care of ourselves.Leona Isaac
When you hear the word self-care, what images come to your mind? For the average person the term most likely conjures up images of spa days, carefree shopping, a night out with friends, soaking in a warm bath, listening to quiet music or even watching one’s favorite shows on Netflix. The term generally brings to mind self-indulgence. However, Audre Lorde got it right when she said, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” Self-care should be an ongoing practice and not just an event.
Origins of Self-Care
While the term in itself has become quite trendy and may even sound shallow or selfish, I have learned that it involves a great deal more than what some make it out to be. According to Aisha Harris, of the New York Times and writer for Slate, self-care was originally a medical concept. It was coined in the 1950s to describe activities that allowed patients who were institutionalized to preserve some form of physical independence by doing simple tasks which nurtured their sense of self-worth.
By the 1960s there was concern about post-traumatic stress among health care professionals and the term was used to promote physical, mental and emotional health among these workers. By the 1970s it was used in the political arena when the Black Panther Party (in the U. S.) began encouraging black citizens to take care of themselves, though they were being ignored and denied fair treatment regarding their medical issues.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as, “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” We see that self-care in essence has to do with actively taking care of one’s health and well-being.
A New Definition of Self-Care
I am aware that there is a plethora of information available about what self-care is, ideas and suggestions for self-care routines and the like. I believe however, that any approach to self should be considered from a holistic point of view. It should encompass all aspects of the self; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I propose that self-care be defined as any activity engaged in with the purpose of promoting and maintaining one’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Hence, my morning or evening yoga routine can be considered an act of self-care. I have never been a fan of hardcore exercise and always found it a chore, but I discovered that I enjoy yoga and biking.
I loving encourage you to intentionally practice self-care. Do not make it an occasional event but rather make it a part of your everyday life. You will not wait for your car to completely run out of gas to the point of shutting down before you fill up your gas tank, would you? So do not treat yourself that way.
I will not give you a list of self-care activities that you should practice because intuitively you already know what you need and what you should do. Instead, I encourage you to think carefully about your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Next think of the activities which you can engage in that will meet those needs and promote and maintain health in these areas. Be sure that you choose activities which you enjoy doing and set realistic goals, that way it will be easier for you to maintain the behavior.
A New Start
I also suggest to you NEW START, 8 natural principles to maintain health and well-being.
N – Nutrition E – Exercise W – Water
S – Sunshine T – Temperance (moderation in the use of good things and avoiding bad things) A – Air (Fresh Air) R – Rest T– Trust in God/Divine Power
From personal experience I understand that physical health affects mental and emotional health. Thus, taking care of our physical health is a good place to begin in practicing overall self-care.
Wrapping Things Up…
It is in no way, selfish to think about yourself or to take care of yourself. We take care of everyone else around us. We give and we give and we give, but often we do not give to ourselves. Give yourself the time to rest and relax. Give yourself the time to breathe. Give yourself the time to do something that brings you joy. Give yourself the time to get your body moving in a meaningful way. Give yourself the time to be. Give yourself the time to heal. Give yourself the time to acknowledge the way you are feeling. Give yourself the freedom to let go. Give yourself the love you need, from yourself. Give yourself permission to wholly take care of yourself; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
This year we have all taken a beating from the Covid-19 pandemic. We have all been affected in one way or another, especially mentally and emotionally. I do not know what specific personal challenges you may be experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Whatever they are, I pray for you God’s grace, strength and help. Above all, I pray that you may prosper in all things and enjoy good health, as your soul prospers (3 John 1:2). The solutions you need to the challenges you face and the strength you need to cope are right within you. You may just have to dig deep to find them. Do not hesitate to ask for help where you need it, because none of us can go this journey alone.
If ever there was a time to begin practicing self-care, that time is now. Self-care is a daily practice, not an event!
Thank you taking time to read this post. I would love to hear about your thoughts on self-care, so leave me a comment. ?