I’m sure you have heard of this term or scrolled past someone talking about ‘self-care’ in a Facebook or Instagram post. This is something I talk about on a regular basis to my patients but is something that I hadn’t fully embraced in its entirety in my own life, until now. I can practice what I preach with nutrition, sleep and exercise as much as possible but hadn’t really broken down what was needed on top of these for my own holistic self-care. So, considering this and my journey so far, I wanted to share what I have learnt about what this means for me and how you might be able benefit from more self-care in your own life.
What does self-care mean?
Care of the self, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. First thing’s first, do you know yourself enough to know how to take care of yourself? How often do you check in with yourself to see how you are feeling?
This relationship is based on how well we can connect with what we need, how we show up in the world and connect with our external environment. Whether that be with food, stress, relationships and so on. Often this is learnt behaviour from our childhood and early experiences in life. Somewhere along the way we lose touch with our inner world and therefore become unable to listen to the signs and symptoms that the body might give us either emotionally or physically.
I have seen this in myself and a lot in my female patients. In this modern society we are bought up knowing that those women before us fought hard for equal rights for women to vote and work and have successful careers. We strive hard to sustain equality in our relationships and have families up until the age of 40 in some circumstances. What a wonderful time for us to live in, but does it come at a cost? Can we juggle all the balls and give enough energy to every part of our lives that demand it? I would say a big YES, if know how to engage in self care and do it on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is often realized that we need to be looking after ourselves better when we are on the verge on burn out and have multiple functional sometimes pathological imbalances within the body. We may have ignored the odd uncomfortable symptoms until the body is literally screaming at us to take notice!
How do you know if you need to focus on more self-care?
Firstly, have you got the foundations in place? Do you exercise regularly, sleep a lovely 8 hours per night and know what food and nutrition is best for you? If you haven’t answered yes to all of these then some attention to these areas will certainly help. What about stress? Our modern world and all we want to do and get done has created an issue where we are constantly living in chronic fight or flight mode. The nervous system is constantly being triggered to switch on the sympathetic in response to stress. Stress can be external or internal or both.
You need to care for yourself more if you experience the following:
* Constant fatigue and low energy
* Feeling overwhelmed
* Mood based issues
* Negative self-talk
* Digestive issues
* Hormonal imbalances
* Poor immune function
The list could go on and on!
If this sounds like you, where do you start?
These are my top tips that I have found useful!
* Schedule and plan your time in a week. Make space around things that you need to do. Don’t fill your day with a never-ending list. In this weekly plan make time for the following: food shopping, meal preparation, exercise.
* Make time for 20 min daily meditation, reflection, podcast, bath, reading in the sun or whatever else it is you like to do that relaxes you.
* Get to bed early most nights, 10pm at the latest!
* Move your body and exercise at least 3-4 times per week.
* Read books, listen to podcasts and watch less TV.
* Watch your self-talk, is it negative? Does it blame others for how you feel? Try to think daily about the good things you have in life and feel gratitude for these.
* Eat a good breakfast, every single day.
* Eat a beautiful home cooked meal on a Sunday night to have good energy for your Monday morning.
When you take care of yourself, then you can give more to others and the areas of your life that need your time and energy.
Emma Tippett is an enthusiastic and caring naturopathic practitioner. As a dedicated Melbourne Naturopath she believes that finding and maintaining your optimal health is the primary focus of your treatment. Working with the principle that we are all unique individuals, Emma will tailor a realistic health plan just for you while encouraging, motivating and inspiring you to experience a healthier body, mind and soul.