Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Take Care of Your Whole Self

    Do you take care of and tend to your whole self, mind, body, and spirit? Do you check in with yourself regularly and evaluate how each of these areas is doing? If you don't, that is a-ok! Fitting in self-care can be tough, especially in busy daily lives and in a culture that neither teaches nor emphasizes the importance of this practice. While time-management is a discussion for another day (as well as one of the many forms self-care can take!), let's discuss the three areas to focus on when working with self-care. 

Spirit and Emotions
    This arena is probably the most easily noticed when it's feeling off. If you're emotions are sitting right, nothing in your life is. I think your spiritual or psychological wellbeing is deeply tied to your emotions, so you must tend to your feelings in order to care for yourself on this level. 
     Suggestions for caring for your emotions include regularly checking in with yourself and acknowledging your emotions (a process I wrote about here) and asking them what they want you to know or why they are occurring. I also suggest creating a daily practice that can include relaxing your mind and checking in with yourself spiritually and lifting yourself up. This can include stretching, gratitude, journalling, meditation, visualization, you name it! In addition to these things, it can be good to evaluate different areas in your life and assess how these are affecting you emotionally and spiritually. If your work, friends, or some other aspect is bringing you negative spiritual and emotional energy, try making some changes and tinkering until you find a balance that satisfies your emotional well-being. 
    Just do things that make you happy and make sure your feels are well-resolved, instead of bottled up, and your emotions and spirit will be well cared-for!

    Tending to your mind can involve practices that also tend the spirit and emotions, like visualization or focusing on positive thoughts. However, another aspect of caring for the mind is to ensure you are keeping your brain intellectually stimulated, rather than allowing it to get bored and unhappy. Some methods of keeping your brain busy and happy include learning new skills or subjects, trying out/having new experiences, or engaging in problem solving or creating new projects. Two things I love to do to keep my brain happy are reading non-fiction books from the library and keeping an ideas journal. An ideas journal is a great way to get your mind active every day and come up with solutions to problems and new projects. You can read more about it here
   In addition to stimulating your mind, tending to it may also involve finding ways to relax your mind and turn it "off". Good ways to do this include organizing your schedule and tasks so that you have time to relax and still get everything done, and you can do things besides work without stressing out. Things you can do when your brain is "off" include doing things with your hands, like a craft or art project, cooking meals, or going for hikes or walks, or hey, just watching a little Netflix (DO NOT BINGE, however. That is NOT what self-care is about. Unless that will have good outcomes for your body, mind, and spirit, that is). 

    Tending to the body can be challenging for some folks, but it is definitely a vital part of the equation of self-care. Caring for the body is a multi-layered process that includes eating well, exercising and moving your body, keeping up with your healthcare and allowing time for recovery when the body is sick, sleeping enough, relieving stress, taking care of your skin, hair, and any other exterior concerns, and generally ensuring that your body is healthy and happy. 
    Exercise and observation are excellent ways to check-in with your body and get a sense of its "mood", or state of health. Is it easy to move your body? How do you feel before and after eating? When you wake up in the morning, do you feel rested? These and other questions will help you get a good reading on your body's health. 
   Taking care of your body and tending to all these aspects of doing so requires time management and tinkering. Although there may be a certain diet or exercise plan that works well in theory, you must find what foods, workouts, routines, etc.. work for you and makes you feel best. Make sure you enjoy the exercise you do, and savor the food you eat. A healthy lifestyle has to be fun, otherwise it's not sustainable. 
   What's great about caring for your body is that the actions involved sometimes overlap with other areas, a phenomenon that permaculture babes will recognize as stacking functions. For example, exercising is not only great for your body, but also for your spirit and emotions, as it floods your systems with endorphins. Likewise, cooking healthy meals is a great hands-on opportunity to turn your mind off. Coming up with a workout plan and schedule is also a great way to engage your brain in problem-solving. 
    To read a little more of what I have to say about exercise, look here

   One more important thing to mention is that self-care is not the same thing as self-pleasure. Yes, self-care and self-pleasure both fall under the umbrella of self-love, and yes laying in bed watching Netflix and eating donuts is a very fun, treat-yo-self act, but it will not have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing as a whole. I'm not saying that it's not ok to do these things - it totally is! However, it's all about balance. Take care of your mind body and spirit, and you will be one well cared-for being! Not to mention, probably healthy and happy too :)

Photos: 1, 2