The flight attendants say it every time.
If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your oxygen mask on first, and then assist the other person.
This is a great metaphor for self-care. And it holds true in every situation I know of.
Self-care has gotten a lot of press on the internet these days and that is good in that we feel encouraged to actually focus on taking care of ourselves.Sometimes self-care is hard work. Click To Tweet
It is also bad because in many places it’s been simplified to ‘have a cup of tea’, ‘take a bubble bath’, ‘light a candle’, ‘spend time with a pet’, etc. These are not bad in and of themselves, they can be helpful, it is just bad if we look at the ways we treat ourselves as self-care. Sometimes self-care is hard, laborious work. We need to do the work.
We need to look at every aspect of our self-care and ask if what we are doing is working. Self-care in just one area of our lives doesn’t do us any good. We have to do our best across the board.
Most people find this part of self-care a bit of work and it sometimes easily ignored until it isn’t easy anymore.
- Do you follow a diet that is good for you (not one size fits all but most of us already know what NOT to do)?
- Do you keep yourself hydrated?
- Do you get enough sleep?
- Do you visit your doctor, dentist, optometrist, and any other healthcare providers regularly?
- Do you take prescribed medications as directed?
- Do you take over the counter medications as directed?
- Do you take care of your skin?
- Do you have at least one activity that keeps you active?
- Do you practice any stress relief coping mechanisms?
Mentally and Emotionally
This might even be trickier than physical. It’s not so easy to see. It can be tough to diagnose. It is also critical to our well being.
- Do you acknowledge when you are having mental difficulties?
- Do you find ways to mentally rest?
- Do you find ways to become mentally stimulated?
- Do you seek help if your mental state becomes overwhelming?
- Do you take care of yourself physically?
- Do you have someone you can talk with on a regular basis?
- Do you surround yourself with people who are also interested in your well being?
- Do you have clear boundaries?
- Do you teach people how to treat you well?
- Do you live in a way that your thoughts, beliefs, and actions are congruent?
- Do you have others to care about?
- Do you have a purpose in your life?
- Do you put an effort into making something better?
- Do you know how to forgive people?
- Do you know how to ask for forgiveness?
- Do you know how to be vulnerable?
- Do you know how to be resilient?
Humans are social creatures and sometimes our self-care requires the participation of other humans or the modifying of human interaction.
- Do you have meaningful relationships?
- Do you have a “tribe” to belong to that is a healthy and safe choice for you?
- Do you distance yourself from people who are toxic?
- Do you engage with others on a regular basis?
- Do you spend too much time with others because you are afraid to be alone?
- Do you engage and help the larger community around you?
Let’s face it, the majority of us have to work to pay the bills and we spend more time at work on a regular basis than any other activity. We have to make sure we take care of ourselves here as well.
- Do you have a set of workplace boundaries?
- Are you a workaholic?
- Do you put in enough time and effort at work?
- Are you effective at work?
- Do you feel fulfilled in your job?
- Do you do what you need to do to make sure that are happy with your job?
- Do you look for other opportunities when you are not happy with your job?
- Do you have the tools to optimize your work?
- Do you have a safe comfortable place to live?
- Do you have overwhelming debts?
- Do you protect your finances to the best of your ability?
- Do you put things before people?
- Do you become stingy with your money and your things?
- Do you treat your money and your things irresponsibly?
Our moral and spiritual base is probably the most key ingredient in our self-care. Because it guides us in every other way that we live our life, this is where the most profound work that we do comes in.
“The litmus test for right and wrong is how it affects humanity.”- Shannon M. Blower
While ‘affects on humanity’ can (and will) be argued by any number of factions, I think this quote is a great way to look at our own internal compass and setting personal parameters of right and wrong.
- Do you meditate/pray/ruminate on a regular basis?
- Do you hold yourself accountable for your actions?
- Do you hold yourself accountable for the effect your actions have?
- Do you live by the values you profess to have?
- Do you practice self-control?
- Do you live your life as if it is centered on you or that you are part of a bigger world?
- Do you have a personal code of ethics?
Steps To Embrace Self Care
Everybody’s journey to self-care will be different because, let’s face it, we have our own special crazy to deal with. But…
It starts with self-reflection.
It starts with the identification of what needs to be cared for.
Then you need to put in the work to take care of you.
For me, I think I will put some more time into practicing Tai Chi. It helps me physically, mentally, and spiritually. You have to love a 3 for 1 deal!
Photo Credit: Rumolay
What will you do to take better care of yourself?