As the holidays have come and gone and the business of schedules and routines falls back into place, it’s often easy to forget about prioritizing what is truly essential for all of us: self care. What exactly is self care? It is the process of attending to one’s personal health and well-being. For the sake of simplicity, we can classify self-activities into four main categories:
- Regulate schedule (i.e. attempt to get up and go to bed around the same time each day)
- Practice good sleep hygiene (i.e. regular rituals before bed, such as drinking tea, reading, and listening to guided meditations)
- Make sure to eat at least 3 meals a day, especially breakfast
- Eat protein throughout the day
- Reduce white/processed sugar and flour
- Eat as close to the source as possible (i.e. organic)
- Drink water throughout the day
- Regular and strenuous to increase your heart rate (i.e. walking, running, spin class)
- Aerobic exercise has shown to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Connections (to yourself, to others, to a higher power)
- Socializing with a friend or family member
- Spiritual practices
Often, we prioritize the needs of others before ourselves, which actually works against us. The better we care for ourselves, the better able we are to care for others. As the metaphor goes, if we are flying on an airplane, we are instructed to put our oxygen mask on first before helping others. If we run out of oxygen, we will be unable to help anyone else with their oxygen mask. Therefore, it is essential that we first take care of ourselves prior to attempting to help others, even our dependents such as children. In utilizing this example, we can also reduce our guilt in caring for ourselves first, as when we do so, we are in a far better position to be effective in helping others. We then bring out best selves to the table.
It is important that each day, we strive to make positive choices in each of these areas in our daily lives to ensure a strong foundation so that we can tackle the stressors of everyday life. The better care we take of ourselves, the more energized and refreshed we feel to enjoy our lives to fullest.