What is Proper Self-Care?

What is Proper Self-Care?

I’ve found self-care described as both frivolous and necessary, but the frivolity seems more of a simple distraction. So what is proper self-care? The kind that nourishes you in mind, body and spirit.

Post-covid, I’m not the only one looking for more sustainable self-care that will actually help me care for myself. I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s been finding it hard going.

Even the World Health Organization has an opinon on self-care, so you know it’s important. They say

Self-care is the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.

World Health Organization

Why is proper self-care important?

I guess it’s putting the old oxygen mask on yourself so you can take care of others.

Or more importanly, taking proper care of yourself, so you can take proper care of yourself for a long time – something you do for you. Not your boss. Not your family. Not the other people you think depend on you.

Proper self-care is good for reducing anxious thoughts, stress and burnout. It improves resilience, happiness and relationships. Not only that, it gives you more energy, so you can do all the things you love. And helps with focus too.

I know there are times I get tired and rundown, and I think it won’t matter if I don’t exercise, binge that bag of chips, or stay up late watching some tv show, but it really does matter.

So, proper self-care is taking care of yourself, well, er, properly.

Perfect circular logic.

Body

Taking care of your body seems easier than the rest; eat well, exercise well, and sleep well.

But at the same time, we’re learning your guts are more important than we all thought, and inparticular your gut bacteria or biome. “Good” bacteria are better than “bad” bacteria. Good bacteria prefer grains, fruit and vegetables, as well as new bacteria in the form of fermented foods. Eating for your gut is also useful for maintaining your weight. Which also helps to keep your body moving.

And the best way to get good food, is to cook for yourself. Bonus points if you cook for someone else. Mind you, it has to be good fresh food, not heating up something processed.

Exercise is good for your body – keeping your skeleton strong and muscles flexible. Added to that, if you don’t use it, you lose it, so it’s important to do something that gets your heart pumping, as well as building muscle and increasing flexibility.

Spending time outside in the sun is good for mood and vitamin D absorption without which you don’t have strong bones. If you can spend some time in nature, there are added benefits.

And of course pets, and gardens can be good inspiration to get outside and exercise more.

And while we’re talking about bodies, taking care of your body with regular dentist, optical and general practitioner appointments can help you stay in charge of your health, and get any potential conditions (e.g., cancer) sorted earlier. Especially when you follow instructions…

Mind

While your mind is technically part of your body, your thoughts and your feelings aren’t. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t control them. To get good sleep, you need the right conditions; to have exercised your mind and body enough, to have eaten and drunk the right kind of food and drink, to have a nice cool, dark, and uncluttered place to sleep.

Uncontrolled thoughts and emotions are usually quite good at convicing you everything is a catastrophe if you don’t deal with it all perfectly. Meditation is good for both calming thoughts and emotions, and for examining them coolly and logically.

Taking a day trip can help, not only to see how someone else lives, but to give yourself a break away from your worries and cares. Not necessarily even a day, just going somewhere different for lunch will do. As long as it’s a healthy-ish lunch!

Even something as seemingly ordinary, like a calendar, can ease your mind. Somewhere you can plan and organise your life. And plan time for your self-care. 😉

When it comes to the mind, especially in terms of not developing severe dementia; stimulating your mind. Learning new skills, reading books, and thinking about puzzles.

Spirit/Soul

Taking care of your soul, or feeding your soul, doens’t have to mean organised religion. It can also be the belief that you are part of something larger than you.

One of the benefits of organised religions, is a built in community of people who think the same general way you do. Your friends and family.

Another potential benefit is purification – taking proper care of your hygiene needs can be a way of becoming a new person, shower by shower. Sloughing away the old you that doesn’t take care of you for a new one that does.

As is a gratitude practice – thanks again Mrs Sparkle. Not to mention the developments I’ve seen in my lifetime.

And fostering your life force can be.

And of course, meditation, time with trees, and incorporating acts of kindness into your day.

Proper self-care is taking care of yourself

So in the end, proper self-care is just taking proper care of yourself.

Checking in often enough to notice when something doesn’t feel right,

  • Does your body feel kinked up?
  • Is your mind turning in circles?
  • Are you spending too much, or not enough time on your own?

And then taking action to ease it.

It’s not as easy (or exciting) as taking a bath or binging a show, but it will be better for you in the long run.


Low angle photo of green trees by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash


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