What is self-care?
Self-care is one of the most important concepts that you will learn about. Self-care is an extension of self-love and this in turn has a huge influence on everything you do and don't do. So what is self-care? Self-care is taking care of yourself in every sense of the word. It is everything you do to help yourself perform optimally emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Basically, self-care is giving yourself everything you need to be a healthy and happy person. Maybe when you hear taking care of yourself you think of obvious things like eating right, exercising, etc.
But self-care goes way beyond those things. It extends to who you spend time with, what job you do, what relationships you engage in, what you invest your time in, etc. All these acts can be put under the title of self-care because self-care involves:
- Taking care of yourself physically through nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc.
- Taking care of yourself mentally by nurturing and maintaining your mental balance, by engaging in meaningful tasks and feeding your mind
- Taking care of yourself socially by engaging in meaningful social interactions, exploring new relationships
- Taking care of yourself emotionally by allowing yourself to feel, experience and learn about your emotions
- Taking care of yourself spiritually by investing in getting to know yourself
In the next part we will be looking at something you can do to start integrating self-care into your life.
How do you integrate self-care?
Self-care is what they call a practice, something you do constantly on a daily basis. There is no goal you work towards, it is about continuously giving yourself the things that you need to stay balanced. Below I will show you some examples of how you can start integrating self-care into your life right away. In the next slides you'll learn about why these are so powerful and get specific tips on how to apply them. Let's take a look, shall we?
Food to feel good
Giving yourself nourishing and delicious food is an act of self care. Eating and preparing meals is about much more than just food. It is about taking the time to take care of yourself, it is about ensuring that you get the best nutrition possible, it is about enjoying your meals and being grateful for the abundance of nutrition you have access to. If you truly think you are worth it, you will make sure that to give yourself the best and most nutritious foods you can find. This is an easy-to-apply but very powerful self-care practice.
How do you do this?
The first thing you need to do is change your mindset when it comes to food and realize that the things you put into your mouth are the fuel of your life and therefore your happiness. Don't you want the best for yourself? Then make sure you give yourself the best and most nutritional foods around. Eating is very much tied to self-love.
- Choose food which is both nutritious and delicious
- Create time for preparing and eating meals
- Be in the moment while eating and cherish your meals
- Develop a practice of feeling grateful for your food
- Make eating a community thing for added bonus points!
You are the most important person in your life, period. You might disagree but think about it. If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to care for anybody else, so it is time to put yourself first. Consciously taking the time to be with yourself, to have alone time, is a huge act of self-care. It is like saying to yourself: "I am worth spending time and energy on and I deserve to truly listen to what I feel and say to myself". You do this for the people you love so why not for yourself. Start being there for YOU!
How do you do this?
Promise yourself to dedicate at least 15 minutes of each day to yourself, to be with yourself. No phone, no distractions, just you, your thoughts and your emotions. You might very well learn that your inner self has been desperate for attention. An easy way to start:
- Determine a time of the day to take 15 minutes just for you
- During these 15 minutes, no phone, no distractions or sounds: just be. A great way to tune in to yourself is a body scan
- Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and just listen. "Listen" to the feeling and sensations in your body, listen to your thoughts, watch them come and go but don't engage in dialogue, just observe
- It is easiest to start doing this as part of a morning ritual or an unwinding ritual at the end of the day
- Bonus: Dedicate you-time by allocating some time for yourself to do something you really enjoy. A gift to yourself.
Surround yourself with people who energize you
The people you hang out with and the areas you frequent have a huge impact on your well-being and on your personal development. If you spend a lot of time with people who are negative or in negatively-charged environments, this will rub off on you. This will influence you one way or the other. You might absorb or unconsciously feed into this and reaffirm your own negative bias or you might unconsciously fight your surroundings and try to shield yourself or counteract it by being overly positive. Neither are very beneficial to you. This one can be directly tied to self-love. Because why, if you love yourself, would you hang out with people who are negative or have a negative influence on you? This could be viewed as some form of self-abuse. You are putting yourself in environments that negatively influence you, that harm you. Do you see the correlation?
You are worth it to surround yourself with people who inspire and energize you. Of course for these people to want to be around you, you need to become one first. So we arrive at the next step.
How do you do this?
Tune in to how you feel when you are around people. Are there people in your life that don't energize you? Limit the time you hang out with them to a level you feel comfortable with. At the same time, keep examining yourself to make sure you are not one of those people without even realizing it.
- Become aware of how you feel around certain people and in certain places
- Try to become aware of where this occurs or why you feel that way
- Monitor your own thoughts and words. Look for negatively-charged thought patterns and language. Have you become aware that you might be one of "those" negative people? Don't worry, awareness is the first step to change. Now you know!
- Expose yourself to positive influences as much as you can. Hang out with positive people.
Invest in yourself
All of us have been put on this world with no manual on how to live our lives. It is our responsibility to embrace the adventure and create our own manual. The journey of life is about getting to know yourself. The greatest act of self-care is to invest in yourself. Get to know yourself. Get to know what things you like, what people you like to be with, what skills you excel at, what your fears are. The better you know yourself, the better you can design a life that is in line with who you are. Developing a practice of self-discovery, of self-growth, of personal development is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
How do you do this?
Expose yourself to inspiring and motivating content as much as possible. Actively learn and pursue the things you are interested in and always look for a way to grow. What's the easiest way to do this?
- Start to read. Reading is the gateway to the greatest minds that have lived, to the mindset of the change-makers of our time and to a wealth of knowledge. I recommend you start with these two books: Think and Grow Rich, Tribe of Mentors
- Actively search out and expose yourself to inspiring content and knowledge
- Invest in coaching, personal development courses, learning programmes, etc.
- Find mentors
- Make your circle bigger. Expose yourself to as many different types of people as you can
- Engage in a diverse range of activities to broaden your perspective
Do things you like and say no
Irrationally, lots of us tend to do things we don't want to do and neglect to do the things we do want to do. Why? This can also be tied into self-love. For example, some of us have trouble saying no because we don't want to disappoint someone else, because maybe, if we do, they won't like us any more. Or we are afraid of being judged by others if we do decide to go our own way. Deep down, all of these things are tied into insecurities which are tied into the image that we have of ourselves and the beliefs we've created. That's why saying no the things we don't want, and yes to the things we do want is such a powerful message to ourselves. You are basically saying to yourself, "I take myself seriously and I will live more in line with what I truly want." Do things you truly love and want to do and say no to things that don't energize you. Engaging in activities that give you energy and enrich your soul is a great gift to yourself. And the better you get to know yourself, the better you'll know what these activities are.
How do you do this?
Like with most things in the realm of personal development, change starts with becoming more aware of yourself. You need to be able to tune in more to your feelings and thoughts and acknowledge them.
- Invest in increasing your self-awareness by practising mindfulness in daily life
- Recognize when you feel like saying no, and when you are energized by things
- Notice when you are acting in accordance with your feelings and when you are not (and ask yourself why not)
- Become aware of the things that energize you and find ways of doing these things more often
Listen to yourself
Take your feelings seriously and be honest with yourself. This is a huge one. We tend to suppress most negative feelings but this can lead to huge problems and will ultimately cause suffering. Take a look around you and see how many people avoid negative feelings by engaging in destructive behaviours such as excessive partying, drinking, drug use, cheating, excessive exercising, etc. Most of the behaviour that is used to mask or change negative feelings comes from refusing to deal with the source and is destructive in nature. But these "negative" feelings and thoughts are just feedback mechanisms; they are trying to tell you something and if you don't listen nothing will change and you might miss out on important lessons and insights. Give yourself permission to feel: it is okay to feel. I'll even share a little secret with you. These feelings are the portal to personal growth and happiness. And suppressing them is the road to suffering. Which one will you choose?
How do you do this?
- Increase self-awareness and create room to experience your feelings
- By now you will have noticed that self-awareness was mentioned a few times. It is vital to develop self-awareness. To be able to listen better to your thoughts and feelings, we are going to go back to one of the first points of self-care mentioned: You-time!
- You need to create room to become aware of your feelings. You can do this by creating time to be with yourself. A bodyscan, mindfulness, they all help increase your self-awareness. And self-awareness is what you need first to be able to acknowledge what you feel
- Learn to listen to your inner talk and feelings by developing mindfulness habits such as meditation
- Identify destructive behaviour and dive into the underlying reasons