An on-going theme that I teach my clients and emphasize in my wellness courses and explore in my own life is how to step into the role of being your own best care-giver and how to prioritize self-care. This is the intelligent stance of putting yourself first when it comes to health. Put on your own oxygen mask first.
I see too many people, particularly women, taking care of others, but not actively advocating and prioritizing their health and well-being and I've been guilty of this myself! But, we all know that when you don't prioritize your health, not only do you suffer, your family and community suffers too. It doesn't have to be this way!
Self care isn't a luxury. It's a necessity.
A parent who is perpetually exhausted has little to give. A zombie mom can’t be an effective parent. A zombie in the workplace can't contribute to the greater good.
When you practice self-care, everyone wins!
A good way to begin to self-care is by remembering your own care-givers and becoming aware of your learned and inherited patterns of care-giving and self-care. These inquiries are important. Our own personal health evolution requires a strong examination of the habits and patterns that are present in our lineage. The habits that we learned from our care-givers that are life-affirming, we aim to perpetuate. The habits that we learned from them that are not life-affirming we should release.
Who were your primary care-givers? Name them. Your mother, father, older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, etc. Your list can include blood relatives as well as the special people who showed up for you in your life and cared for you.
In what ways did you experience their care? Maybe it was through physical touch, nourishment, humor, coaching or teachable moments. If your caregivers are still living, consider reaching out to them and expressing gratitude for their care. If they are no longer living, find a way to remember them and inwardly express gratitude.
Was self-care something that was strongly modeled in your family of up-bringing? Did the adults in your life model self-care? Can you remember how your care-givers cared for themselves and/or reached out for support when they needed it?
You already know how to be a caregiver to your family.
What does it look like to be your own best caregiver?
What habits or practices do you regularly engage in to promote your wellbeing?
Practice daily self-care and you'll live a healthy life.
“There is no herb, supplement or drug that can entirely take the place of having an appropriate daily diet, lifestyle and stress-management routine.”
- Dr. Claudia Welch
“I prescribe regimens for the good of my patients.”
Self Care Basics
Bookend your days with morning and evening routines
The day is going to be busy, hectic, variable with school, projects, errands, etc. You'll be more resilient and effective with your day if you make time for yourself in the morning and evening. Bookend your days with routines and rituals that ground, nourish and calm.
Cultivate a powerful morning routine
Get up early so you can have quiet time before the busy-ness of the day begins. Make time for self care in the morning: reflection, meditation, reading, exercise, journaling, etc. Plan your day for efficiency and flow.
Cultivate an easeful evening routine
Honor your body’s fatigue and slow down after the workday. Avoid doing more work in the evening and choose instead to make time for doing something that is pleasant and relaxing. Play a game. Listen to music. Consider a bath, reading, self massage, meditation or journaling.
Prioritize Sleep. Make Early to Bed a Habit
The truth is, most of us are incredibly busy and many of us get through life on little sleep. We don’t give our sleep the attention it deserves. What we want to recognize is that fatigue is a basic, natural sign from your body, like hunger and thirst. We need to pay attention to fatigue, just as we pay attention to hunger, for example.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for good health. Early to bed is crucial for parents. Get off your screen at least one hour before bed. Get to sleep by 10 PM to get the best hours of rest.
Move Your Body Daily
Exercise daily and you'll be more successful at home, at work, or at anything you do. Exercise boosts your metabolism, is linked to better productivity, encourages better sleep, and makes for a happier you!
Prioritize Your Nourishment
Meal plan on the weekends. Eat a well balanced, whole foods diet. Up your veggies and greens! Drink water between meals. Sit down and relax when you eat your meals. Eat a bigger lunch and an earlier, lighter dinner for better energy, weight management, and less inflammation.
Carve out breaks for yourself. Take yourself on a date
Can you give yourself a half day a week and a full day a month for self care? What brings you joy and pleasure?
What would you like to do for yourself? Plan something that gives you joy and pleasure. A walk in nature, a visit to a museum, an outing with a friend. How can you make this happen?
Don’t lose sight of your passions, joy and desires.
Be an awesome parent, care-giver, worker, boss or employee, but don’t lose sight of yourself in the process. Keep prioritizing your personal passions, interests and desires.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. What the world needs is people who have come alive. - Howard Thurman
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach, educator and yoga instructor.