Self care can be a phrase/word/idea that many people do not understand the definition of, much less participate in. According to the Oxford Dictionary "Self Care" is defined as:
the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
The act of taking an active roll in your mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health is one neglected and misdefined by adults who interact in this rat race of a generation we live in. Our culture tells us we are not successful unless our schedules are so full we forget to take time for a meal. Society labels you as "lazy" if you take the time to nap. And, how dare you get a full night's sleep. No, the trend is to brag about how few hours of sleep one is operating on. You've seen the episode of Myth Busters where they compare an intoxicated driver with a sleep deprived driver, right? If you haven't, you should. It is very eye opening.
One fact that we must attend to is that self care is an act that replenishes you rather than depletes you. Replenish. That is a word we know, right? We replenish the gas in our car, the shampoo in our shower, the food in the cat's bowl. But how many of us use this word in relation to ourselves?
Replenish is a word which means to "restore to a former condition." So, in order to provide yourself with self care, you would need to restore yourself to a previous condition. Let's explore this idea for a moment. When someone decides to restore something which has been left in neglect, it is an intentional act. This could be a restoration process of a car, a house, a yard, a dresser. All of these items would require one to intentionally look at the product, assess the damage, and make decisions and purchases based upon the evaluation done in order to bring the item back to it's former glory. If we, as creative individuals, will do that for an inanimate object, how much more should we do that for humans? For ourselves?
Self care is an intentional practice of assessing what we have depleted from ourselves and replenishing, restoring, and reviving that area. It is taking an active roll in our own personal lives. Cars don't happen to restore themselves just as renovations don't just happen to a neglected home. Why do we think this will happen to us? Assess yourself. What do you need? Think about yourself in compartments, first. You have four key areas to look at: Emotional, Physical, Mental, and Spiritual health. These are all important areas to keep healthy. Just as a gas tank on a car needs to stay filled in order to run, we also must keep all these areas filled. You cannot expect to give at work, school, home, family, kids, friends without taking the time to replenish. We, as a society, are depleted. It is time we take an honest look at our lives and learn to evaluate before we begin to run on empty. An empty tank is not helpful to those around us; in fact, an empty tank begins to pull from the other tanks around it. How so, you ask? Well, just try to talk to a person who needs a bit of self care. Are they life giving in their conversation? Chances are, the depleted person is exuding an short temper, an angry demeanor, and an easily frustrated state of mind. Let's add complaining, self-pitying, and emotional to that list of adjectives. Wow! This doesn't sound like a life giving person to me! So let's look at your compartments again, how are they looking?
Are you spiritually drained? You need to pray. Are you physically depleted? You may need a nap. Are you emotionally strained? A run may help to relieve stress or maybe a yoga class. Are you mentally zapped? Think about catching a movie or cup of coffee. Notice these things do not require you to do something for someone else. Again, the activity you participate in needs to replenish rather than drain you. This can mean you say "no" to a few things. It can mean you say "no" to hanging out with friends, "no" to answering texts during a meal, "no" to emails while sitting on toilet (admit it, we've all done it). For every "yes" you say, you have said "no" to something else. Conversely, the opposite is true. For every "no" you say, you have said "yes" to something else. Let's look at some examples of this in action.
Ex 1. You say "no" to answering a text at dinner so you said "yes" to listening to your spouse's day.
Ex 2. You said "yes" to an extra spreadsheet at work so you said "no" to sit down dinner at home and grab a hamburger on your way home late.
Self care is intentional, prioritized, and thought through. It is saying "no" to some things in life (like the extra cookie) and saying "yes" to others (green tea, why yes!). It is taking time to evaluate yourself so that you can positively effect those around you rather than being a drain. Self care is an essential part of your well being so let's take the time to practice it consistently.
How do you care for yourself? Give us examples of how you prioritize your life to self care? Maybe you currently neglect yourself but have an idea of how to better prioritize. Tell us about it. Oh, and grab a cup of coffee while you do it.