Self-care: Taking care of oneself so he or she is healthy within mind, body and spirit.
Oftentimes we find ourselves getting enveloped in the chaos of life barely being able to pop our head out for air. Why is that? Why do we allow ourselves to be swept away into a far off land where we are neglecting our bodies, our minds and our beautiful little spirits? We are all guilty of it; there was a big project at work, you got caught up with the kids’ schedule, there was just so much to do and so little time.
STOP and take a breath…
Hear this truth and hear it loud and clear – your health is a priority. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you expect to be the best version of yourself when you show up for others? Self care is not something to overlook.
When analyzing today’s standard lifestyle , you might find that something just isn’t sitting right. More than likely, you know exactly what it is. If not, let this checklist be even more helpful in pinpointing where your uncomfy spots are. Because if there’s anything that you take away from this, it’s that we are all works in progress and there is always room for improvement.
Think of your body as a machine; without the proper love and maintenance, problems will start to arise. This is a loaded topic but what not many may realize is there are two simple but extremely significant actions to take that can dramatically change the way you feel; water intake and food quality.
Most people don’t drink enough water and this act alone can hinder your body’s functions from operating optimally. From your brain to your gut and down to your joints, skipping out on your water falls into failing on your self-care. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an adequate daily fluid intake is 2.7 liters for women and 3.7 liters for men. And that is not taking into account individuals who train or work out more than most. Do your due diligence and learn about how much water you should be drinking with your activity levels and see the difference in how you feel. You might be making a few more trips to the bathroom but the benefits will be worth it.
Now for the big juicy topic that I will try to condense into one paragraph – food quality. Let’s be real, we’ve all seen headline after headline announcing the latest additive being found in our food. It’s shocking, infuriating and leaves us feeling lost, not knowing who to trust. A simple trick to avoid worry and deceit is to stick to whole foods. No not the popular grocery store chain, but actual whole food ingredients- meaning it comes from nature. either came from the ground or an animal. Processed foods are where we are seeing the majority of these headlines. They are loaded with harmful oils, fillers and preservatives that your body does not need. Read your labels and if you don’t know what something is, chances are you shouldn’t be eating it. If you can stick to produce not only will you be safer, but you will also begin to notice the difference in how your body feels. If you think of your body as a ferrari, you aren’t putting low grade oil in that kitty to make her purr. Yes, it is a bit more effort to learn but the benefits of this task will benefit you and your loved ones significantly.
I want you to think about the joys of your childhood. What were your favorite things to do? What sparked creativity and wonder in your soul? Maybe it’s painting or singing. Maybe you loved diving into science books about bugs or reptiles. We all have our thing. But when was the last time you did it? Before you dive into a rant about time and how it can be better spent elsewhere, think about what really comes before your joy. Is doom-scrolling on Instagram on the menu tonight or would it benefit you infinitely more to immerse yourself in something you treasure. Even if you only have five or ten minutes to engage in a hobby you love, I can almost guarantee you will not regret it. If anything, you might find yourself carving out more time for it(as you should). As an adult there are so many responsibilities and serious tasks we have to get done . Give yourself permission to have a special time for the “light and playful”. Your soul will thank you. Even the most hard and grueling days won’t seem as bad when you get to sprinkle in some much needed playtime of your own.
We are all guilty of it. Someone asks us a favor or an opportunity arises that sounds exciting and before we have time to sit down and really think about it, one simple word exits our mouth – yes! Before you know it, you’ve overloaded your plate and now you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off because you made a last-minute commitment. This isn’t good for anyone. You’re officially a headless chicken and chances are the people around you aren’t exactly having a picnic being near you in your chaotic state.
It’s okay to say no, we all need boundaries. Many people really struggle with this concept. We might feel obligated to take on the pressure of a new responsibility. But before you leap out of your seat to volunteer, pause for a minute. Do you really have the capacity to do this without compromising yourself and others around you? This should be a quick answer. If you are thinking about moving things around and adjusting your schedule, let me stop you right there, the answer is no and that’s okay. When we allow ourselves to say “no” we are creating boundaries for ourselves that are essential. You are giving yourself time and space for other things that matter in your life. Furthermore, by exercising our power to say “no” you are also modeling healthy boundaries for the people closest to you, may that be children, spouses, colleagues, etc. Too many of us don’t enforce our ability to draw this line in the sand, but we can lead by example in order to normalize this refreshing new norm – it’s more than okay to say “no.” If “no” is tough for you to verbalize, try this one: “that doesn’t work for me.” Give it a try and feel the unnecessary stress melt away.
This is not meant to be the daunting “you need to exercise and sleep more” rant. Although some of you may have squirmed when reading those words. Take note of that feeling. Chances are if emotions began to churn, there might need to be some extra attention placed onto this category.
Your body does need movement and rest. We all know the benefits of physical exercise, it’s no secret. But as we get older, we need movement even more. Staying sedentary can pose problems for joint and muscle health. If you don’t want to lose it, you gotta use it! That being said, you don’t have to jump straight into burpees in order to feel the benefits of physical activity. Even starting with a daily 30 minute walk will benefit you physically as well as mentally. Plus, it’s a nice excuse to get a little fresh air.
Then there’s the other side of the spectrum – sleep. We have been programmed to think sleep is for the dead, but truthfully rest is what will preserve your sanity, energy and health more than anything. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute it is recommended adults get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Their studies have shown that receiving less than this could result in more health problems compared to those who do get adequate sleep. Nobody needs more problems added to their plate, especially when it’s something you can help. Aside from having small children, because let’s be real, sometimes they require some attention at night, there should not be much else that gets in the way of your sleep. If you aren’t hitting these sleep numbers, evaluate why that is. If you need to draw some boundaries, do so. Remember your health comes first and your body can not function properly if you are depriving it of its refueling time.
Between our minds being inundated with inexhaustible content in this crazy media-filled world we live in, it can feel impossible to try and stay present. We are constantly thinking or feeling the need to be distracted. We’ve created the habit of pulling out our phones when there is even the slightest lull in entertainment at any chance that arises. Sometimes, we even find that if there is something in front of us, our mind might be pulling us in several different directions to the point where you really aren’t where you are, you are in a million other places.
There is immense value in slowing down, being present and observing. Literally, stop and smell the flowers. Next time you get to just sit, resist the urge to pull out your phone, clear your mind and take in everything around you. When we allow ourselves space to do this, we give ourselves the gift to appreciate the things around us and increase our gratitude for what we have and what we get to experience. The practice of staying present and grateful also allows us to see more value in the day-to-day rather than focusing on negative things that may arise. That mindset change actually helps you in becoming and feeling like a happier human. Think about it. Keeping yourself in the chaos constantly and never coming up to see the beauty of life is exhausting. But if you are able to slow down and see all the beauty around you, your perspective changes, and it makes for a better you. So stop, observe and appreciate because there is so much wonder around you.
Is this all the TLC you need? Definitely not, but oftentimes these are the areas we neglect because we don’t consider them to be self-care. But remember, self-care is taking actions to ensure the health of our mind, body and spirit. These five simple moves can either serve as great places to start or improve on. So take a moment, sit with yourself and evaluate where you are, where you’d like to be, and take initiative to feel better. Give yourself grace but remember, health is wealth. So nourish your being because you deserve it.
Erica Callahan is a renaissance woman who has dabbled in numerous trades over the years. After spending eight years in marketing, Erica began work as an artist, calligrapher and tarot practitioner while also finishing her last degrees in Reiki, becoming a Reiki Master in May 2023. While working in these fields, Erica’s enthusiasm for food also grew into another passion that she has become a craftsman in. When she’s not immersed in her many callings, Erica is a wife and mom to almost two children (January!) and a mischievous Dogo Argentino.