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
Notice your breath
Call a friend
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
Listen to an inspiring podcast
Don't skip breakfast
Schedule a day of pampering
Organize your space
Work Life Balance
Use your PTO or Sick Time
Finish that project
Use your good china, crystal and flatware
Scheduled quiet time
Make a gratitude list
Accept a compliment
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
Get quality sleep (turn off the TV and other media devices)
Put yourself first
Light a candle
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
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