Self-care isn’t something you only do when you feel depleted.
Self-care isn’t something you only do when you remember.
Self-care isn’t something to do only in response to negative circumstances.
Self-care isn’t something that you can cram into a weekend, a stay-cation, detox or mental health day.
Self-care also isn’t doing nothing.
Self-care lies in the day-to-day. It is a practice. It is a routine. And it requires discipline. What you consider mundane, self-care says, “commit to me because I am critical to your well-being.”
Self-care is the practice of checking-in with all parts of yourself to make sure you are whole and that you are operating in the world from a place of connection to Source and groundedness. When you assess where you are and discover parts of you that aren’t well, then you draw from your self-care toolkit for the practice, task or assignment that you need to do in order to bring yourself back to center.
Yes, eating, exercising and resting are the foundations of a self-care practice, but these are just the basics and without awareness of their quality and how they are impacting you and your energy, they could contribute to imbalance and poor health and habits.
To me, self-care is a spiritual practice. It is holistic and involves taking care of your whole being: mind, body and spirit. Self-care is really about developing capacity. Pour energy into yourself first, in a balanced way, so that you can live and thrive. With discipline, a self-care routine helps you develop a reserve of energy that sustains you. Then you can use some of that energy to serve, to give, to work, to dream, to learn, to explore, to speak and to create.
But when we don’t have a reserve, we are depleted. Think of self-care like a bank account. You need deposits and there will be withdrawals. What happens when we spend more than we make? We end up in the negative and owing people money. When you put all of your energy into your work, your kids, your friends, your problems, etc., without giving any attention to yourself, then you will be drained. The only person you will owe, is you.
Below are some of the ways that you can build your self-care savings account. These are your deposits that build that energy reserve. I’ve phrased them as questions because you are the only person who can identify what works well and what doesn’t, for you.
Food: What kind of foods give you energy and how much of them do you need to consume each day? What supplements need to be incorporated? Are there foods you are eating that cause negative reactions?
Rest: How much sleep do you need in order to feel rested? What kind of atmosphere do you need to create in order to get restful sleep? Are you sleeping too much? Are you using it as a means of escapism?
Exercise: How much exercise does your body need? Which would be better suited to your physical requirements: yoga, tennis or marathon training? Do you resist movement all together?
Beauty: How much time and effort do you put into your appearance? Could you put in a little more or a little less, and still feel food about yourself when you walk out of the door?
Play: When was the last time you laughed, saw a good play, painted, enjoy a concert or did something that activated your senses and inspired your imagination? On the flip side, do you play too much?
Spirit: Mindfulness, meditation and/or reflection, what does it look like for you? How do you connect to Spirit? How do you process and release your thoughts and emotions, so that they don’t manifest as outbursts, internal hurt or illness? How present are you with yourself, your decisions and your environment?
Community: Do you have a community of people that allow you to show up authentically and as your whole self? How often do you need and desire heart-to-heart connection?
Boundaries: How can you let others in and still feel safe? Do you know when it is time for you to be quiet, to observe, release control and not insert yourself into another person’s business?
Energy: What efforts are you putting your energy into right now and are they truly important? What is your process for releasing the energy you have accumulated from your interactions with other people?
Space: Do you find it difficult to keep your space clean and clutter free? Do you spend so much time making sure your space is perfect that you are unable to relax and enjoy it?
Mind: Do you fill your mind with things you want to think about by reading books, articles and/or sacred and spiritual texts? What is your limit for reading the news, being on social media or watching television?
Wellness: Have you compiled a team of practitioners to help you address your health? Your primary care physician isn’t a one-stop-shop, so what other kind of therapies, such as herbalism, acupuncture, nutrition, chiropractic care, counseling, etc. do you need to incorporate?
You already have a self-care routine right now and you are already disciplined in maintaining it. Use the aforementioned list to help you build upon your practice and to spark ideas for areas of your life that could use re-calibrating. Moreover, remember that building your self-care savings account, that reserve of energy, takes time. Be patient and kind to yourself. This is the space where Disciple is Medicine because with a consistent self-care practice you are always making those deposits and learning ways to conserve yourself and your energy while withdrawals are happening simultaneously.