In my last blog I talked about the necessity of prioritizing self-care by putting on your own oxygen mask first. This time, let’s talk about what self-care looks like.
When people hear the term “self-care” they often think about taking good care of themselves physically: eating healthy foods and exercising. Yes, that is absolutely important.
But that alone isn’t enough. When faced with the chronic demands of caregiving, it’s important—even more important during high stress levels—to engage in emotional and spiritual self-care, too.
Beyond selfish—taking that first walk
I remember a time, years ago, when I was so busy taking care of my children, I rarely had any time to myself. When I did have little snippets of time, I would pressure myself to “use it well” by “being productive,” meaning accomplishing some item on my lengthy to-do list that was easier done without young ones tagging along. My precious time alone became an exercise in seeing how much else I could get done for the sake of my family. To do otherwise, to me, seemed to be selfish.
This constant go-go-going began to take its toll, of course. Looking back, I was unhealthy in all ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually. One day, during a precious hour to myself, I finally listened to that gut feeling I had been ignoring for some time. Instead of “being productive” (as I thought of it at the time), I went for a leisurely walk around a lake at a local park.
That walk was glorious! To me, logically, it seemed decadent, a waste of precious time. Yet, in some intangible way I couldn’t quite put my finger on, that walk raised my spirits and energies more than crossing off any number of To Do’s.
In the weeks and months to come, I gave myself permission to take more walks around that lake. I tried other avenues of self-care, too, like sea salt baths and short meditations. Ultimately, I realized that rejuvenating myself during my precious, few moments of time alone was the most productive way I could help myself and my family.
What Self-care is Not
So what does emotional and spiritual self-care look like? First, let’s talk about what it is not.
Self-care does not entail overindulging in some way. Overindulging ultimately lowers self-esteem and further depletes your well of energy for giving to others from a place of love.
Common ways of overindulging in our society are:
- Internet/social media use
- Watching TV
- Getting caught up in the news
- Getting involved in other people’s drama (because that distracts you from facing your own)
These ways are common because they are easy to access, addictive, and, if not overdone to an extreme extent, more or less socially appropriate.
While these activities may give a quick, illusionary boost, they do not replenish the fuel that feeds you deep down in your soul.
What Self-care Is
In general, self-care usually involves a solitary or small-group activity as opposed to being around large groups. And while the annual girls weekend away is lots of fun, self-care has to happen regularly, ideally even daily. You give to others every day; try to give back to yourself in some small way every day too.
Other than that, like so much else in life, there is no one-size-fits-all for self-care that appeals to everyone. Preferred activities are an individual choice.
Common self-care activities include:
- Walking in nature
- Taking a long, soaking bath
- Prayer or meditation
- Being creative for your own personal enjoyment, not necessarily to show anyone else
- Anything that brings you joy or nourishment
- Even sitting down for 10 minutes in a cozy chair while doing “nothing” except letting your thoughts wander while sipping a nice cup of hot tea.
However you do it, emotional and spiritual self-care is an act of getting back in touch with yourself. It is vitally important if you wish to remain centered in peace and joy through the ups and downs of daily life.
Are you willing to prioritize self-care to keep yourself healthy and balanced for the long term? Are you willing to put on your own oxygen mask first?
You already know what activities refill your well and feed your soul. I’m curious—what works for you?
Please comment and share 🙂