Ask yourself: What have I done today that feels nourishing, supportive and inspiring- for my well being, my joy?
If you can answer this question, then you are well on your way to working a conscious self care practice into your life.
Self care comes in many different shapes and forms, with many different activities and choices falling under the label “self care”. The purpose is always the same, however- to deepen the nourishment, support and care you give yourself. It is learned behavior though. Sometimes we have to learn new ways of taking care of ourselves, or we may already be doing many self care practices, but we may be simply unaware of them!
Self care is vital for our lives and our well being. I consider self care to be the #1 priority of every being- even if it feels impossible or fleeting!
How to start self care
1. Start Small. If you don’t already have a self care regimen in place for yourself, remember to start small. Savor a cup of tea quietly, listen to your breath for 5 minutes each day, walk barefoot in soft grass, or take a warm bath. These can all be small, yet meaningful ways to nourish yourself.
2. Put Your Self First. You can’t give to others if you don’t first give to yourself. If you are wearing yourself ragged, you will be giving to others from a very fragile and sensitive place. It will likely be with agitation, frustration, fatigue and even stress. Not ideal for you- or your relationships. I think of self care like the mantra we hear on airplanes: “when the oxygen mask falls from above, assist yourself first, and then the person next to you.” Make your needs a priority.
Because self care is not a one-size-fits-all reality, and individual needs vary, we have to be willing to adjust and re-adjust our needs and priorities along the way. I consider self care a practice- like a yoga practice or learning a new life skill. It’s a practice that is ongoing, life long, and requires constant attention and intention. Some days will be easy, other days will feel impossible. If you can do one thing (at minimum) every day that nourishes you, then these baby steps can really add up! This can be the momentum you need to embrace self care more rigorously.
Use my reminders below for strengthening your self care practice and get nourished!
10 self care ideas
1. Pause and listen. Set a timer if you need to, but pause every hour or so and listen to your mental body, physical body and emotional body. At minimum, pause and listen once a day. I consider the 3 level check in step number one in our self care practice. How can we know what we need if we aren’t cultivating a relationship with our mental, emotional and physical bodies? They each have different needs and it’s vital that we know what they each need for daily nourishment. Listen up! Need a reminder about the 3 level check in? Find resources on my blog.
2. Self Care Journal. Keep a “self care journal” and record the steps you are taking each day to care for yourself. Record your 3 level check-ins in your journal and any steps you’ve taken each day to care for yourself. This can include movement, creativity, food choices, rest and meditation, using healthy boundaries, breath awareness and your 3 level check ins- and anything else that you are using to intentionally and radically care for yourself. This journal can be that thread throughout your self care practice of what’s working and not working for you. What do you do a lot of? What are you neglecting? Here are some questions to consider for your SCJ:How have I nourished, supported and cared for myself today? What actions expressed my commitment to self care today? What steps am I committed to for my own well being this week? What boundaries are nourishing me or where might I need to re-commit to them? Where might I need to make some adjustments in my self care practices? What am I learning?
3. Nourish From the Inside Out. Eat simply, eat at regular meal times, and eat slowly in a quiet setting if possible. Nourish yourself from the inside out with delicious and wholesome meals. Now that it’s fall, it’s time to gently cleanse the body, according to Ayurveda. Need some new simple recipes? Here are my three favorite recipes for nourishment- using the Ayurvedic detoxification principles of Shaka Vansya Ayurveda.
4. Get Embodied. Move your body and get embodied. Whether it’s walking, running, a ride on your bike or a stroll through the woods, move your body. Dance, stretch and do yoga. Move the prana in the body and get your system energized. Then do a 3 level check in and see what the response is within you. Need a reminder about the 3 level check in? Find resources on my blog.
5. Beyond the Body. Caring for your physical body in terms of self care is essential. Just remember that self care goes beyond the physical body and also must include the emotional body and mental body as well. Are you tending to your emotional body needs and your mental body needs in your self care regimen? Are you addressing healthy boundaries in you self care practices? Have you been re-evaluating your mental body messages? Are you working directly with the emotional body and the felt senses? Make sure your approach to self care is well rounded. You may need help with these pieces so check in with a coach, therapist or councilor if you need extra support.
6. Healthy Boundaries. Pay close attention to your boundaries. Listen to how you feel when you are with others. What sensations arrive physically, mentally and emotionally? What feelings and thoughts arrive? Be aware of how your relationships effect you. Do they nourish? Overstimulate? Exhaust or support you? What relationships are worthy of your time and energy- which ones should be restructured or let go? Healthy boundaries are a basic step in getting your needs met and getting the nourishment you need in your life. Use them as a vital self care tool.
7. Ask for Support and Express Your Needs. Are you piling your plate too high? Are you feeling burdened and heavy with responsibilities and general overwhelm? Remember to seek support, guidance, and ask for assistance. Don’t self isolate and don’t keep your needs to yourself. Who and what are the trustworthy support systems in your life? Call upon them, invite them in, anchor with them. Seek the abundance of support available to you and your life, but don’t go at things alone and martyr yourself. If you don’t feel like you have the support that you need, it may be time to call in a new team of resources. Find a trustworthy therapist, coach, counselor or mentor to get the process started. Seek answers and solutions.
8. Get Inspired and Go for the Joy! Do something new that inspires you. Try a new class, try a new cafe or recipe, or simply take a different hiking trail today. Be curious and explore while getting out of old ruts and patterns that might be less than fulfilling. Remember that this can be simple and doesn’t have to be a move to a new state or an exotic vacation in paradise! Do activities that bring you joy, recharge your batteries and inspire you- but do it daily if possible. Walk in the woods, write poetry, dance, draw, journal, play with your animal companions, cook nourishing foods, do yoga. These are moments of radical self care!
9. Reflect and Give Gratitude. Openly express your gratitude to your self and others. This can be an essential ritual for experiencing more nourishment in your life. What are you grateful for about yourself? What qualities are you proud of in yourself and in your life? What can you applaud yourself for accomplishing each day that serves your well being? Celebrate yourself! And celebrate others! Expressing truthful gratitude to others can be a balm for their hearts as well as your own. Speak honestly and kindly to others and remind them why they are so special. I consider this an essential ingredient for life and love.
10. Work it Like a Job! Consider self care to be your part time job- or full time job! Nourish yourself daily and always be moving towards greater nourishment for your self and your life. Take baby steps or leaps, but remember that what you do today will provide sustainable nourishment and well being for your future days. Your steps really add up! Above all, do what you love, and love what you do, your life depends on it!
As you continue your self care journey, remember to pause periodically and ask yourself how your self care practices are working for you and if there are any holes in how you are caring for yourself. Make the necessary adjustments along the way and remember this is a process. Enjoy!
Photo: David Marcu, Unsplash.com