Self-care is any activity that we do with the purpose of taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional health. Self-care activities refuel your tank so you can have more to give, to yourself, to your loved ones, to your home, to your life, to your work. Your self-care should not be something you have to force yourself to do, but rather something that you enjoy doing and look forward to, knowing that you will feel better as a result of doing it.
WHAT SELF CARE CAN DO FOR YOU
Every day can be more balanced, satisfying, and joyful when self-care is part of your daily routine. Self-care is a great way to manage and cope with life’s stressors, thereby preventing the development of resentment, exhaustion, and burnout. The stressors that have the biggest impact on our emotional, mental and physical health is our daily hassles – the small things that happen every day that add pressure to our lives, such as commuting to work, doing the dishes, standing in line, paying bills, cooking and cleaning, etc. Daily hassles are small things that can add up to make you feel overburdened and unfulfilled. Self-care can balance out the daily hassles with activities that nurture and soothe your body, mind and soul. Self-care can also help you to improve your overall health, whether physical health (getting into shape, improving digestion, preventing disease), mental health (improved mood, reduced anxiety and depression), and emotional health (increased life satisfaction, improved connection with self and others). Self care can also help you excel at the workplace, by preventing fatigue and exhaustion, and by lifting your sense of motivation, the self-care routines you do both at work and at home can lead to an increase of productivity and success at work. By implementing a self-care strategy, you will have more to offer both personally (at home, with your family, and to yourself) and professionally (at work and your career advancement).
WHY YOU NEED TO PLAN FOR SELF-CARE
Most of us already know what we need to do to take care of ourselves, and yet we keep putting it off. Our modern lives can get very busy, and we tend to put ourselves, our “me time” and our needs last. Something always seems to come up that needs our time and attention more, and it becomes habit to put our needs aside. We become so used to ignoring our needs that if we finally take time out to do something for ourselves (read a book, take a day off to go to the spa, etc) we end up feeling guilty. Planning self-care into your daily routine turns it from a “when I get around to” task to something that becomes a vital part of your day. You are making a strong statement to yourself that your wellbeing is important and you are acknowledging that your good health requires nurturing and that from taking care of yourself you will be able to do better in all areas of your life.
EXAMPLES OF SELF-CARE PRACTICES:
Physical Get adequate sleep (7-8 hrs for an adult) Drink enough water (7-9 cups for an adult) Eating a balanced and healthy diet (check out the new Canada Food Guide) Eat a handful of something green every day Exercise (whatever suits your style – from a 15 minute walk at lunch, to a 60 minute boot camp) Get to a Yoga/Zumba/Spin/Dance class Go for a hike Take your dog for a LONG walk Fly a kite Have a snowball fight Get some fresh air Stretch Take a bath (to soothe muscles and nerves) Follow a home skin care regimen (to prevent acne, aging, etc) Follow-up with medical care
Mental/Emotional Write in a journal Spend time with family / friends Get organized(to do lists, scheduling) Practice some relaxation / deep breathing exercises Meditate Read a book Listen to a podcast Spend time doing a hobby Tend your garden Cook / bake Start an art project Listen to music Sing out loud! Laugh until you fall off your chair
Workplace Clean your workstation and keep it clean Take your lunch break away from your desk Go for a walk at lunch Take the stairs Take a short time out when needed Have a water bottle that you fill up throughout the day Keep healthy snacks at your desk Don’t drown in email – schedule email checking period throughout the day Stay organized – keep a detailed schedule and to-do list “NO” list
- No eating after a certain time
- No checking email after a certain time
- No emotional eating
- No over thinking
- No social media
- No sitting on the couch for more than 1 hour at a time
- No phones at the dinner table
- No using the word “Should”
- No doing things for other people that you don’t really want to do
- Limit communication with people who cause you stress
- Turn off your phone
HOW TO IMPLEMENT A SELF CARE PLAN
What is your goal?What do you want to accomplish with your self care plan. Before you jump in and start doing things at random, take a moment to consider your specific needs in this moment. If you’re feeling tired –start with getting enough sleep, taking naps, gentle walks in nature, and reading a book on the porch. If you feel like you give all of yourself to others with no time left for yourself – start with saying no to doing things for others, taking time to do a hobby, hit the gym, and clean up your personal space. If you feel like you are not as successful as you’d like to be at work – start with organizing your workspace and schedule, and pursuing avenues to further your skills like courses, books and podcasts.
Start with the basics.Start by focusing on what is going to get you the biggest bang for your buck, the things that will support the foundation of health and drive overall vitality. These things can include: sleeping, eating well, staying hydrated, exercise. If your goal is to lose weight but you’re feeling exhausted all the time, eating well and getting enough sleep while taking a 15 minute walk after each meal may be a better self-care regimen to start with than trying to hit the gym daily and going on a strict diet.
Plan it as part of your daily ritual / routine.Don’t just say “I’ll get around to doing it” – because you will allow yourself to put it aside and push it back. Actively schedule your self-care regimen into your daily schedule/calendar. Yes, I mean write “go for a 15 minute walk” into your calendar at 12:30 after lunch – be specific! Once it becomes integrated into your routine, it will become easier to stick to.
Make Adjustments as you go. Stay flexible and keep your plan dynamic. Check in consistently with what is working. Ditch whatever isn’t working or isn’t helping you achieve your goal. Your plan is not set in stone, and should be dynamically adapting to your changing needs. Continuously add and remove self-care activities to maintain a level of self-care that feels right for you.
Don’t compare – this is PERSONAL.Your needs and how much self-care is right for you is individual to you. Don’t look at how much or little someone else does, just keep in your lane and do what you need for your own care. Don’t let others’ expectations or demands on you interfere with your self-care by making you feel guilty or resentful. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself by focusing on your needs and doing what has to be done to take care of yourself. This will automatically translate to your ability to care for others and excel at your job. Article Written By: Jaty Tam ND. Dr. Jaty is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto and the Medical Director and Co-Founder of Well Street Health. Driven by her passion for health education, and her desire to bring wellness principles to the corporate world (in which she spent many years before becoming a Naturopathic Doctor), Dr. Jaty, continues to inspire audiences through Keynote Speaking and building innovative corporate wellness programs that cultivate winning wellness cultures
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