Thursday, August 6, 2015

Take Care Thursdays: Basic Self Care

I have previously discussed the importance of self-care (you can read about that here), and how to find the time to do that.  Today I am going to talk about the basics.

Self-care doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming.  It doesn't have to involve a spa weekend with the girls, or hours and hours of shopping on Rodeo Drive.  It certainly CAN involve that, and wouldn't it be glorious if we could afford that, both financially and time-wise.  For most of us, though, that is not reality.

Reality is that sometimes we are lucky to shower every day.  Or every other day.  Or once a week.  Not making time for that most basic self-care is sending a message to yourself that you are not important.  That is not okay.  I know it can be difficult to make time to shower, but it needs to happen.  Give your kid(s) a cupcake and a movie to watch if you have to.  Lock them in your bedroom so they can't escape and make a huge mess of the entire house.  Make this time for you.  You are worth it.

Following is a list of basic self-care.  At a minimum, we should not be skipping these items.  We should be making sure we make enough time for ourselves to do these things each day.  If you aren't doing them, then you will probably not be feeling so hot about yourself.

Sleep.  Seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night is ideal.  If your kids get up early, this means you need to go to bed earlier.  The consequences to your health for missing out on quality sleep are really negative.  Please consider making sleep a priority.  Things that can help you relax in the evening and get better sleep are:  turn off your electronics at least an hour before bedtime, essential oils in a diffuser (lavender is my favorite), and try to go to bed around the same time every night.

Exercise.  This doesn't have to be an intense workout.  Take a walk around the block after dinner.  Do some light yoga in your backyard.  Even 10 or 15 minutes of being active is better than nothing.

Eating.  If you are feeding your body junk all day, you are not going to feel very good, or be very motivated to do other healthy things.  There are many studies that discuss sugar being a contributing factor to depression.  The food we put in our mouth is truly our body's fuel.  Would you pour vegetable oil in your car's gas tank and expect it to run properly?  No way, you know your car would breakdown!  How is your body any different?  You have to put the right fuel into yourself in order for you to have good energy.

Caffeine.  This is one that I struggle with.  Caffeine can add to my anxiety.  I have quit several vices without thinking twice, but coffee has a strong hold on me.  I try not to abuse it.  I stop drinking caffeine at noon, and limit myself to four cups per day.  Four may sound like a lot to some, but I used to drink up to twelve cups throughout the day!  Since I practice most of the other self-care basics, I am willing to compromise on this one.  Just be aware that caffeine can remain in your system for a long time and affect your sleep.

Water.  The health benefits of drinking water are endless.  It helps regulate your body systems (digestion, circulation, body temp regulation, etc.), can help with weight management (often we believe we are hungry when we are truly thirsty), keeps skin looking good, helps us feel less tired, and can even boost productivity!  This is probably the easiest of all of the self-care basics to manage.  Own this one!

Relationships.  Spending quality time with your spouse, children, and friends is imperative to our health.  Tell your spouse something you appreciate about them today.  Make eye contact with your kids and really listen to them.  Make time for date night (or have an at home date night after the kids are asleep!).  Try to arrange for one on one time with each kid just once this month.  Reach out to a friend to have a picnic at the park while the kids play.  These things are sometimes the hardest to do, but are also the most important.  Real life human connections is what feeds our soul.  Don't starve your soul.

Outdoors.  Spending time outside is so good for you.  The best news is that you can combine this with exercise!  Your evening walk or backyard yoga kills two birds with one stone.  Being outside can help if you suffer from depression, it can improve your ability to focus, and it can help you relax.  If you don't want to exercise, then you can sit outside and drink your morning coffee.  Deeply inhale the fresh air, hold your breath, and then slowly exhale.  Don't you feel better already?

Hygiene.  I already discussed this earlier in this post.  This one might be the most important one!

Hobbies.  Stimulating your creativity can provide a great outlet for stress.  They force your mind to take a break from any negative thinking or worrying.  They can offer a new challenge, introduce you to new people, and allow you to remain in the present.  Next week I will talk about options for hobbies.  Sometimes, when we allow ourselves to be consumed by being a mommy, a wife, an employee, we often forget what it is that we used to have interest in.  Or the interests we used to have are no longer appealing.  I will provide you with a list of hobbies you can consider for yourself.

Whew!  That seems like quite an overwhelming list, doesn't it?  Just add all of these nine things to your life!  No big deal, right?  Well, it can be a big deal.  Start with the One Step concept.  Take one item (let's start with water) and add it to your day.  Try it for a few days and see if you feel comfortable adding another item.  If not a few days, maybe a week.  Or two.  You can do this at your own pace.  However, the sooner you can incorporate these items into your daily routine, the better you will feel about yourself.

Comment below and tell me about your self-care journey!  I would love to hear from you.

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