By Rachel Welch
Believe it or not, we are here with yet another post on self-care! This is important because, in our society, there is a lot of work, and not a lot of rest. There is a lot of productivity and not much fun for the sake of fun. Self-care is the foundation of a balanced life, and we need to understand the importance of making time for it. If we choose to apply the correct tactics, we may be able to self-preserve with self-care.
Self-care is #trending.
It has become a commonly coined, overused, and often misunderstood phrase. For many, the term "self-care" triggers thoughts of baths and candles, indulgence in a large quantity of delicious treats, or staying in bed for the whole day. While self-care can be all of these things, it also has a bit more substance to it than is commonly discussed.
What is Self-Care, Really?
Let's break down the term “self-care” to its intended definitions, according to the Oxford Dictionary. Self-care is "the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's health." Secondly, it is "the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness (1)."
The first definition relates to an action that preserves (or improves) our health.
Think back to the latest "self-care" post that you saw in your feed. Was the primary focus related to indulgence, or to wellness? Many of us have become caught in the web of relating self-care to indulging our desires, healthy or not. Maybe it means eating an entire pan of brownies because we had a bad day or staying in bed instead of keeping to our exercise goal. Is it possible that we have interpreted self-care to be a permission slip for dropping our goals and resorting back to unhealthy habits?
Now, this is certainly not to suggest that brownies or rest are innately bad. Certainly, both things are delightful parts of life in healthy moderation! The point is that our society has warped self-care to mean purely "easy living" when in fact, self-care is sometimes not the easiest thing to prioritize. Sometimes the most loving thing that we can do for ourselves means doing the difficult thing and adhering to our goals. Especially if we made those goals to improve our health.
Self-care sometimes means discipline.
In order to make progress, we need discipline. For fitness, we take the stairs instead of the elevator. For success at work, we go to sleep early to wake up with focus and energy. To learn a new skill, we may need to prioritize practice instead of watching the next Netflix series. If we are going to self-preserve with self-care, we need to make healthy choices.
Sometimes, self-care means respecting yourself enough to stick to your goals.
The second definition of self-care specifies an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness (1). This perhaps is where society's misunderstanding began. Many understand self-care to mean, “what will make me immediately happy?”
In the brownie example, there is nothing innately wrong with brownies. Sometimes, a consumable treat is an excellent way to increase your mental well-being! For example, there is research to suggest that individuals who eat what they want in moderation are more successful at long-term weight loss goals than individuals who deprive themselves (2). The self-care misunderstanding comes when we take it too far. It is important to prioritize long-term health and wellness over short-term gratification.
So, how do we put actual self-care into practice?
To honor the well-being of our bodies and our minds, we must obtain balance. To self-preserve with self-care, find balance between indulgence and discipline. This means making healthy goals and then sticking to them, but also ensuring that your goals involve things for you and your needs!
Reaching a new milestone at work will take time and effort. Mastering a new skill requires an adjustment of how we spend our free time. Maybe this means making a SMART goal that allows you to invest the necessary time towards your work or practice. Also, schedule time to rest! Put yourself at the top of your to-do list and remember that if you burn yourself out to the point of exhaustion, you won't be any good to yourself, or to anyone else.
Balance the time to meet your goal with the time that is needed to keep you whole!
A healthy balance of self-care looks different for all of us. It could be:
- Nutrition: Perhaps the self-care task for nutrition is to eat a healthy meal that takes time to cook, instead of the easier drive-thru option. Maybe this means we take our vitamins and supplements, even if we don't enjoy swallowing them.
- Movement: Exercise and movement should be a part of every balanced day. Find a way to move your body in a way that you can enjoy! Not only does exercise help to banish brain fog, but it improves symptoms of depression, makes us happier, and keeps our brains healthy (3).
- Hydration: So many of us spend much of our lives in a state of dehydration. Drink some water and fuel your body with electrolytes! Your brain, body, skin, and mind will show you their gratitude in remarkable ways (4).
- Rest: Sometimes, being "lazy" is exactly what we need to provide balance to an overworked life! Take a break to rest, meditate, or practice some yoga. Make time for the Netflix show that brings you joy and eat the tasty brownie (5).
Balance and Moderation is Key
Remember the wise and resounding words of the Greek poet, Hesiod, who in 700 BC said:
"Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things (6)."
It was true in 700 BC, and it's true now. Maintaining moderation is a rule to live by when seeking balance. We can find the healthy balance of a well-rounded life as we honor ourselves enough to stick to our goals.
Self-preserve with self-care and remember that self-care is not selfish. Self-care is self-preservation.
1. Define Self-care - Google Search. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2021, from www.google.com website: https://www.google.com/search?q=define+self-care&rlz=1CAPPDO_enUS947&oq=define+self-care&aqs=chrome..69i57j0j0i22i30l8.3542j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
2.10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. (n.d.). Retrieved from Intuitive Eating website: https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/
3. Banish Brain Fog with Exercise. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2021, from Health By Principle website: https://www.healthbyprinciple.com/blogs/news/banish-brain-fog-with-exercise
4. Electrolyte Supplements 101: Staying Hydrated. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2021, from Health By Principle website: https://www.healthbyprinciple.com/blogs/news/electrolyte-supplements-101-everything-you-need-to-know-to-stay-hydrated
5. Hustle or Rest? Why it is Okay to be. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2021, from Health By Principle website: https://www.healthbyprinciple.com/blogs/news/hustle-or-rest-why-it-is-okay-to-be-lazy
6. Moderation in All Things | Encyclopedia.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.encyclopedia.com website: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/moderation-all-things
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