You've probably been hearing a lot about self-care lately. It might seem like the next trendy buzzword, but it’s a concept that many of us could stand to practice more often. Self-care is the practice of deliberately taking care of our mind, body and spirit with activities, mindset shifts and rituals that nourish us from the inside out.
We seem to believe that taking care of others means they will also take care of us. Or, that helping more people means more people showing up to help us. I still have moments where I put so many things on the front burner of my life that the only place for me is the back burner. It doesn’t take long to burn out and have nothing left for yourself.
Now is the perfect time to reexamine your self-care routine. Below are my top 7 self-care practices.
1. Embrace the fact that self-care is not selfish. This is first important step in practicing self-care. Taking care of yourself is an absolute necessity because you can’t serve from any empty vessel. We all need regularly scheduled “me time,” so carve out the time and stick with it. If you think, I’ll take care of myself once I get everything else done…think back on a time when you actually got everything else done. It’s been a while, right? So, you might as well take time out for yourself now.
2. Get comfortable loving yourself as you are. Strengths and flaws! Remind yourself daily of what’s great about you, and limit your focus on what’s not so good. Go out of your way to limit comparing yourself to others. They came into the world on a different mission than yours. Figure out what you have, what you want and start living a life that is aligned with that. There’s nothing wrong with changing, but learn to enjoy who you are before you make any changes.
3. Seek joy. What brings you joy? Joy is different than happiness because happiness is based on what’s happening around you in the given moment. Joy is deeper. Once you’ve found your joy, pursue it!
4. Speak your truth. When you speak your truth - your passions, values, feelings and aspirations - you give others the chance to know the real you. And once you show the world the real you, like-hearted people will show up to be part of your circle. Speaking your truth helps build your community of people you can share with and learn from along your self-care journey.
5. Create calming rituals. Rituals are things you do over and over in the same way, often around the same time of day. Creating a calming ritual can signal to your brain and body that all is well – there are blue skies after the storms. Some rituals include deep breathing exercises or visualization. My personal favorite is lighting a candle and reading while the candle slowly burns and fills the room with its sweet scent. Find what calms you and create a ritual around it - practice doesn’t always make perfect but it always makes for improvement.
6. Develop your spiritual practice. Many of us want to be more spiritual but don’t know where to begin. We equate spirituality with sitting in silence or chanting mantras. But the truth is, developing your spiritual practice can be as simple as listening to music that calms you, spending time alone, moving your body, saying a prayer or being out in nature. Spending time on your spiritual practice can help you feel grounded to move through your day putting your needs first.
7. Show yourself some grace. We are all a work in progress; be gentle with yourself because you’re still learning. Show yourself some grace for things you may have done that you’re not proud of and move forward making better decisions.
Self-care is more than spa days and “retail therapy,” it’s a series of activities and best practices that nurture yourself from the inside out. Seeking joy, speaking your truth and showing yourself some grace are all big parts of taking care of yourself. Self-care doesn’t cost us anything and the benefits are priceless.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. And the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9)”