Self Care is essential in our lives - it is deeply rooted in nature. Just like a plant needs proper conditions to thrive - fertile soil, water and sunshine, so do we need to nurture our mind, body and spirit to feel balanced, healthy and fulfilled. We don't expect to receive nourishment (in the form fruits or vegetables) from a plant that hasn't been cared for properly. Yet, somehow, are expected to give to others, our family, children, coworkers, community - without nourishing and nurturing ourselves first. It's impossible to give water from an empty well...
Often, the area of self care is the most neglected because of lack of time, stress and overall busyness we all face in our lives. Neglecting our most basic and essential needs can only go on for so long. Then we get reminders ... in the form of aches and pains, insomnia, indigestion, restless mind, body and spirit.
I have recently received one such reminder in the form of a (very painful) pinched shoulder muscle and misaligned back that required a trip to a chiropractor, daily massage, hot/cold packs and hot sauna. I got the message... thank you.
When I stopped long enough to see what was the cause of all that suffering, I realized that I have been really busy lately... and short on time. So busy, that I stopped going on my morning walks and doing my quiet time. I had projects that were due, remodeling that was happening at home, cooking, cleaning, shopping and a thousand other things - I'm sure all of us can relate. After about a week or two of this crazy busy schedule, I could feel that my neck and shoulder muscles become increasingly stiff and then rock-solid. I tried stretching, putting hot compress on it, self massage. All of which worked for about 15 minutes. My body was asking for some movement - so that the stress could leave my body.
Our body, mind and spirit like to receive a variety of
Stillness and Movement
Sleep and Wakefulness
Solitude and Socialization
Stimulation/Learning and Reflection/Assimilation
in short, a balance between Rest and Play (activity) on all levels of our Being. I love this motto I learned from Martha Beck: Rest until you are ready to Play and Play until you are ready for some Rest! That is the the rhythm of nature and life. What a great way to find Balance in our life.
My morning walk is so simple that I didn't even think it made any difference - other than me "clearing my head" and breathing some fresh air. All I do is walk around the neighborhood, in a loop, for 10-15 minutes. It's more of a stroll then a walk. Not much of an exercise... Yet, when I stopped - my body noticed. As the saying goes, "the devil is in the details". It's those small, insignificant things that make such a huge difference. A drink of water, 15 minutes of quiet time, a few deep breaths, some nourishing food, a nice hot bath, a cup of herbal tea - none of these things take a long time or require anything fancy - they're surprisingly simple. So simple, that we underestimate their significance and importance.
I got the message and returned to my daily routines, which include essential self care. I also wrote down a list of things that our essential in my day, as a reminder. They are all very small and simple things
Water with lemon
Green smoothie or fresh fruit
Herbal tea or lemon with honey
Creating Art or other creative expression
I have another weekly list, which includes a hot bath with some essential oils and a trip to the (book) store... We are all unique and my list can be very different from yours. What matters is that we are aware of our needs and we listen to them.
I have discovered that the best way to build in self care into my day is to setup routines. So in the morning, I start my day with some lemon water, followed by fresh fruit and/or a green smoothie (fruit mixed with greens and water in a high-speed blender). Then I take my Quiet Time, use my favorite essential oils, journal and do some reading or planning, After which, I take a walk. So, by noon, I have already done most of the things that are essential for my well being. And I can tell the difference - my day flows a lot more smoothly and easily and my body stays healthy.
I realize that this is basic stuff and we all know it. Somehow though, I tend to forget the basics and need to be reminded frequently. So, this is a reminder to myself as well to anyone else who needs it.
I hope you are inspired to create your own list of Essential Self Care Practices and incorporate them into your day. You can go even further and create a weekly, monthly and even annual list or make a drawing - and use it to remind yourself to take care of the most precious commodity you have - Your Self. And remember: only when you nurture yourself - you can truly nurture others!