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Self Care Is Self Love

The Oxford Languages defines self-care as:

  • The practice of taking action to improve one's own health

  • The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress

The World health Organization defines self-care as "the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider".

As a yoga teacher I tend to have conversations around self-care fairly often these days. And most times, I discover that people do not place nearly enough importance on their own self-care. Self-care is not an indulgence or an act of selfishness. In reality, self-care is a necessity and it can take place anywhere we are.

But self-care is hard! Work, family and other responsibilities usually are high on our daily task list, leaving little time for self care. Many report that prioritizing their own care over that of others not only provides them a break from stress but makes them a better caregiver and/or employee. They even report being more productive, having increased resilience and confidence and a noticeable reduction in the body's stress response and burnout.

There are many components to self care; physical, emotional, social, personal and psychological & knowledge.

  • Physical self-care includes exercise, movement and sleep.

  • Emotional self-care includes removing negativity, increasing confidence and self esteem.

  • Social self-care includes our social interactions, relationships and physical interactions.

  • Personal self-care includes hygiene, nutrition, hydration and spirituality.

  • Psychological self-care includes mindfulness, self reflection, mediation.

  • Knowledge includes obtaining and understanding basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions

Self-care is a broad and individualized concept. It means something different to each person. While one person may benefit from a luxury spa day, another will benefit from hugging a tree. Basically, self-care means anything we do to take better care of ourselves so we can stay physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually well. Although self care cannot cure disease, it may help prevent future health issues. Taking care of one's self slows the aging process and reduces our body and mind's stress response (decreased blood pressure, anxiety & depression).

Some Self- Care Ideas:

  • Read a book for pleasure

  • Take a lunch break with a friend

  • Take a nap

  • Enjoy nature, hug a tree or sit on the grass

  • Take a warm bath

  • De-clutter your space

  • Pray

  • Meditate

  • Notice your breath

  • Call a friend

  • Journal

  • Express your feelings

  • Give yourself a facial or self massage

  • Listen to music, children laughing, or birds chirping

  • Play with your pet

  • Cook a healthy meal

  • Take some deep breaths

  • Watch a funny movie

  • Ask for help

  • Smile

  • Listen to an inspiring podcast

  • Don't skip breakfast

  • Hug yourself

  • Schedule a day of pampering

  • Organize your space

  • Unplug

  • Work Life Balance

  • Use your PTO or Sick Time

  • Finish that project

  • Reduce caffeine

  • Dance

  • Say "no"

  • Use your good china, crystal and flatware

  • Scheduled quiet time

  • Make a gratitude list

  • Accept a compliment

  • Pick wildflowers

  • Go to bed earlier

  • Positive affirmations & positive self talk

  • Wear your comfy cloths

  • Write yourself a love note

  • Discover a new hobby: Paint, garden, learn a new language, knitting, writing

  • Go outside

  • Get quality sleep (turn off the TV and other media devices)

  • Put yourself first

  • Light a candle

  • Aromatherapy

  • Physical Activity: yoga, walking, riding a bike or other activity at a regular and frequent intervals

  • Healthy Eating: nutritious foods, balanced diet with appropriate caloric intake

  • Drinking water

  • Knowing your BMI, cholesterol levels and blood pressure

  • Hygiene: wash hands, brush teeth, washing food

  • Making & keeping your annual health visits and screenings

  • Mitigation of health risk: quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol, practicing safe sex, using sunscreen

If you still are unsure about what your self-care needs are, or how to incorporate them into your life, check out the International Self-Care Foundation website. This is a great resource and has many in-depth articles on self care.

Of course, yoga, breath-work and meditation are great forms of self care that provide body & mind awareness, and can be a gateway activity to self-care and improved health. Scheduling daily time on calendar helps to remind you of your commitment to self-care and your yoga practice.

And remember, others will benefit from the efforts of your self-care and yoga practice!

Wishing you endless days of health and happiness,

Dawn Young E-RYT, RYT500, RPYT, YACEP

City Yoga Warren

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