As a health coach, I come across many clients who’re good at giving and doing for others, but not paying much attention to self-care to help deal with stress and busyness. So what is self care? Self care in essence is the mindful taking time to pay attention to YOU, not in a self-absorbed way, but in a way that nourishes YOU on as many levels as possible.
And I’m often asked what does that look like and how do you take care of yourself in order to avoid burnout and fatigue. Often I see professionals succumb to illness and get really, really sick and only THEN do they manage to get the much needed rest to catch their breath or slow down and change direction. There's a much better way to incorporate self care to avoid such a crash.
Here’re my top 8 ways to give yourself what you need regularly:
1. Make sure you're well nourished. How hydrated are you? Do you eat well? Does what you eat provide the energy you need to function? Do you take time to eat meals at work and do you take time to snack when your body requires intermittent food during the work day? Self care means integrating favorite healthy foods and water into your daily eating routines and planning ahead to ensure you have adequate nutritional foods throughout your day.
2. Get the sleep you need and know how to rest. Are you getting enough sleep? Do you know how much sleep you need everyday and are you sleeping at least that much? Making a serious effort to make that happen as well as knowing how to rest your body and your mind are essential.
3. Know who you are and your limits. Self care means recognizing when you’re doing more than you can handle and figure out what can be done to slow down.
4. Find a way to decompress throughout your day, create more opportunities for rest and recharge. How can you rest your mind during and after work? What helps you tune out the noise and create more moments of recharge and relaxation, even if brief? For example, stretch or take a brief walk, get yourself a drink of water, talk to a friend, get in touch with a loved one even, if it's just a text. The brain needs those pauses.
6. Take time to get to know YOU better. Learn to recognize your own temperament, and needs, and prepare for your personal limits. Identifying your temperament, needs and your triggers and planning accordingly might help lessen inevitable stress. That might be as simple as grabbing some almonds before a meeting that usually cuts into your lunch hour so you're not crazy hungry.
7. Identify what you enjoy doing and make a serious effort to integrate it into your day or your week. Make it a habit to plan something to look forward to everyday and that’s easy for you. It can be as simple as planning to read a good book at night or have dinner with someone whose company you enjoy.
8. Feed your spiritual self. That might take the form of meditating, praying, communing with nature by a walk in a park, observing a sunset or sunrise, attending a religious service, practicing gratitude, reading or listening to something inspirational.
Bottom line is:
Self care is an act of self-love. Take time to appreciate yourself, for the unique person you are. You’re lovable not for the things you do, but for the person you are. Period. But YOU need to start doing it and become an expert on knowing yourself and taking care of YOU. Shamelessly and without excuses.
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