Do you notice more people around you getting sick or saying they feel burnt out? Or maybe you’ve succumbed to a snuffle yourself or are missing that spring in your step. Many of us can and do power through occasional crunches. Some of us may be going through one crunch after another. At some point, however, we need to pause and rest. If we’re constantly looking for an extra day in our schedule chances are we need to brush up on self-care.
Self-care is not just something for the rich and famous and those with privilege. It is a regular habit each of us must cultivate for optimal health. I believe self-care is so vital that I made it one of the four main pillars of health, sustainable productivity, and wellbeing in my book The Get Productive Grid: A simple and proven work-life balance system to help you thrive. People who learn to look after their own needs have more to give to others because they have something to give.
What is self-care?
Self-care involves making time for activities and practices that help us restore energy and equilibrium. You can also think of it as the things we do in order to take care of our wellbeing. This may include our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. It may even be something we do to nurture our soul. These activities will often directly restore us, improve our resilience and give us more agility to be of service to others. For practitioners, self-care is a must. But the same can be said of teachers, doctors, bus drivers, shop keepers, and so on.
10 signs that more self-care may be needed.
- Not wanting to get up in the morning or finding it hard to get out of bed early.
- Complaining a lot more and finding other people problematic and/or uncaring.
- Being increasingly impatient.
- Forgoing or postponing activities that are good for us in order to get more things “done”!
- Seeming to have no time for a creative task or play.
- Lossing our sense of humor.
- No longer caring about our physical appearance.
- Feeling achy and tense.
- Drinking too much coffee to get by.
- Not paying attention to our loved ones.
How do I choose to care for myself?
- Seeking solitude to reflect, integrate my being, write out feelings and ideas on paper and simply be.
- Doing something special for myself. It could be eating a nice healthy treat, or getting fresh flowers or wearing something elegant. Basically giving myself a direct experience that I’m worth the extra effort.
- Connecting with people in genuine conversation.
- Reading, creating stuff and/or organizing my space and belongings. These activities often provide me with calm, wonder and a feel-good state.
- Yoga, massage, a warm bath or cozy up under a blanket. Each of these acts makes me feel soothed and safe.
Where might you start?
Doing something nice for yourself does not need to cost very much money or take up too much time. What it requires is that you ask and listen to what your mind, heart, body, and spirit tell you they may need.
Few weeks ago a friend invited me to a special yoga class. I jumped at the chance and said yes! I was super excited to see my friend and meet this incredible teacher. It was all set, tickets booked and we were making plans for where we’d grab a bite to eat after.
But when it came to the day, my friend missed her plane and texted me saying she would not be able to make it. I too realized that I felt tired, emotionally low and that 3 hours of intensive yoga would not do much for my spirit. I could sense I needed something else to soothe my soul.
In the end, rather than try to push through it and show up in pieces, I decided to spend the day at home pottering about, reading the papers, taking short naps, watching a film on Prime in the late afternoon, writing a letter, and even baking a cake. I felt absolutely rejuvenated for weeks after. So here’s a vital lesson for you. Make time for yourself. No one else can do it for you. And if you take good care of yourself, you will have more to give to others.
Ad maiora dear friend.