Why taking care of number one is self-full, not selfish.
I was sitting at home icing a surgically repaired rotator cuff, planning a yummy organic salad for lunch, looking forward to the simple pleasure of a cool evening walk, and musing on a topic for this week. That's when it occurred to me that self-care would be the obvious and perfect choice.
Why self-care matters
Whenever we are on an airplane listening to the standard safety instructions we are told to put on our oxygen mask first in case of an emergency, and then put a mask on our children. Why? Because if you are out of oxygen you are no good to anyone. That's an extreme example, and may it never happen, but the same metaphor applies to everyday life. It's our responsibility to take care of managing our energy and making choices for our well-being.
Self-care is not selfish, it is self-full, which is precisely how we fill our cup in order to be present and freely loving to ourselves and to others. As you care for yourself-physically, mentally, emotionally and soulfully-everyone benefits. You feel happier and empowered; others are inspired by your example, and positive energy is contagious.
Self-care is all about one size fits, well, no one. You need to know yourself, listen to yourself, and do what works for you to be balanced and refreshed in body, mind and soul as consistently as possible. Be willing to experiment, be kind to yourself, be curious, and know you are worth it.
Some cost-free, self-care ideas for the body
Sit down, close your eyes and take five slow deep breaths. As you inhale, silently and slowly count to four, so you are at four at the top of your inhale. Now, make your exhale twice as long as your inhale by counting slowly to eight. Repeat. This simple practice calms the mind, reduces anxiety and brings oxygen to your brain.
After regular intervals of sitting, stand and shake out your legs. If you are at work take a walk down the hall and back. Got stairs? Take regular intermissions to go up and down a few flights.
Have a good laugh for no reason. This boosts the immune system and your mood.
Try this zen teaching when you don't have to work: Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired.
Cost-free, self-care ideas for the mind
Unplug for an hour or more.
Delete something from your to-do list that you know you are not going to ever bother doing.
Read a great book for fun.
Walk barefoot on the grass.
Cost-free, self-care ideas for the soul
Focus on a tree, a flower, a bird, the sky-on one thing in nature. Observe its beauty and allow pure awe to fill you.
Watch the sun rise in silence.
Love on your pet animal.
Practice random acts of kindness every day.
Be creative and be consistent
The suggestions above are short lists of self-care strategies. Please create your own ways to practice self-care. Do it. Often. You will experience more joy and love feeling nourished on all levels. Everyone will love being around you, too. PJH