"If you don't see your worth, you'll always choose people who don't see it either. When your self esteem rises, your life follows." ~Mandy Hale
Self Care and Self Love go hand in hand and neither is self -ISH!
I learned the importance and significance of self care at one of the worst times of my life; when my mother was in Hospice for an astounding 7 weeks before she finally passed away 6 1/2 years ago. My 3 older siblings, my dad and I were taking turns sitting with her, and if you have ever been in a situation like this you understand the incredible emotional and physical stress that comes with watching a loved one pass from this life. It took it's toll on us all which could have easily hindered our being the best we could be for our mom in her final days. We weren't the only ones this happened to, and thank goodness the wonderful, compassionate angels who worked at her Hospice facility in Tyler Texas had seen the effects of profound emotional, psychological and physical stress on families and caregivers and had plenty of advice, meetings and literature that stressed guess what? The importance of SELF CARE.
Self care is just that, the way in which we take care of our physical, emotional and mental health (mind body and soul). It is vital to put yourself first (think airplanes and oxygen masks!) and keep yourself healthy and functioning so that you can fully care for others, as well as be the best version of YOU. And being your best self will be the foundation of many other benefits such as healthier relationships and situations. You have to matter to yourself before you matter to others because in the end, others will treat you the way you treat yourself. ...like attracts like, remember?
But how can this all be considered selfish? I don't fully understand this concept but I have to admit, I have felt the guilt myself. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, especially with women who, as I have said before, are expected to be super human beings capable of doing everything with ease, and look beautiful and not complain while we do it...wow! :)
My own mother WAS super human. Or at least I thought so until she died. How could my PERFECT mentor, best friend and mom succomb to something so merely human as physical death, I certainly couldn't comprehend that. Well, because she actually wasn't perfect in the fact that she did NOT partake in many self care rituals herself. Even though she was a registered nurse and knew the importance of staying healthy, she still was old school in her thinking. She was an empath, an old and wise soul, a true healer and she put everyone else first, which is very common isn't it? Her family was her #1 priority and she focused all of her energy on US (especially me because I was a handful!) instead of herself.
Unfortunately the poor self care took it's toll, and even though she lived a long and incredibly prosperus, blessed, and fulfilling life, I often very selfishly wonder if we could have gotten a few more years with her if she had just taken better care of herself!
If you are still wondering exactly what self care and self love looks like I will give you some ideas of what my journey has taught me about both, including the difference in the two, and how they influence each other.
Self Care means taking care of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It sounds like a basic concept but can prove challenging if you are juggling family, career, health issues or are otherwise bombarded with daily stresses of life. But that's all the more reason to practice it. It is vital that we keep ourselves healthy and productive or nothing else will matter because you wont be able to properly function.
~Get enough sleep. If you are like me this is much easier said than done, but restorative sleep is perhaps one of the most vital things to our mind, body and soul. I have learned this, again, the hard way because for years I faught the fact that I am a night owl. I have been, literally all my life. So when grown up duties began to suffer because I couldn't sleep til late morning anymore my physical and mental health really suffered as well. Sleep deprivation is DANGEROUS, but when I became aware of the circadian rhythm cycle and realized that everyone is different in their ability to sleep at night, things started to change for me. Fortunately I am self employed, live alone and can choose my hours of rest, mostly. I have quit stressing about sleeping all night and realize now that as long as I get a certain amount of restorative sleep, it doesn't matter WHEN that sleep is, within reason. I have became more rested and physically and mentally able to function better now. I know not everyone can do this, especially if you have family relying on you. But you can find a schedule that works for you IF you practice self care.
~Healthy diet and exercise doesn't mean starvation, fad diets and time consuming circuit training classes. In 2015 I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It scared the sh*t out of me because that was one of my mother's main health issues and I saw firsthand the effect it had on her mobility and independence in particular. I immediately decided to change my lifestyle, NOT by crash dieting, but by making simple changes to my diet and finding a reasonable exercise program that I could and would stick to. For me, this was and still is a stationery bike in my home. I can ride and do my work online at the same time without having to plan and set back a lot of time out of my day. The result? Fast forward to present day, at 52 I'm 80 pounds lighter, have a normal a1-c ( blood glucose average) and did it without getting on medication. I feel better mentally and physically than I have in all of my adult life. Not to mention the sense of self empowerment I feel knowing I reversed a potentially debilitating and deadly metabolic disorder. Another plus is that eating higher vibrational foods actually can change your energy levels both on a physical and spiritual level. This eventually leads to more ease of sticking with a healthy lifestyle because your body, mind and spirit actually prefer it. It is also a fact that the more sugar you eat, the more you crave, and vice versa. On the occasion that I eat meat, processed or sugary foods (the holidays!) I feel sluggish, irritable and on a lower vibrational frequency. Yes, the junk food tastes good going down but it's not worth how bad it makes me feel in the end. And yes, I also have miraculously quit craving sweets as much, who would have thought!
~Practicing good hygiene can be a challenge if you suffer from depression or other mental or physical illness but it is another basic self care routine that must be implemented for obvious reasons. If you find it difficult for any reason, then consider using this time to introduce rituals such as spiritual baths or showers which are enjoyable and will also improve the way you view yourself.
~Be sure to socialize even if it's something as simple as taking the time to talk to people when you're out running errands. You don't have to be a social butterfly, or extrovert to seek human contact. We as humans need socialization. If you are shy, introverted or an empath it can be a challenge to be around crowds or in social situations but again, find something that resonates with you even if it's simply talking to like minded people in a social media group.
Self love and it's results are similar to, and mostly a result of self care. We are unique individuals and deserve to be treated like we are important and special, including treating ourselves this way. This can be difficult if you have low self esteem for any reason, and who doesn't at one point or another? But remember that our bodies are sacred temples, so start treating it that way and see what happens!
~Embrace your individuality and use it for empowerment. Speak your truth and don't be afraid to be yourself. Don't ever even think about comparing yourself or your life to another. Being unique is a beautiful blessing and how boring would life be if everyone was the same!
~Pamper, pamper, and pamper. There is absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself the way you would treat someone else. If you think giving your friend or family member a day at the spa, a mani or pedi, or buying them something luxurious, why not do it for yourself? You will enjoy it just as much as they would and you deserve it.
These are just a few examples of self care and self love, but as you can see they are closely related and one leads to the other. Please do not fall prey to the extremely outdated belief that it's narcissistic or egotistical to put yourself first.
Especially in these trying times, it is very important to be the best you can be and not succumb to the added stress and chaos of our new (though temporary) normal. I encourage you to love, honor and care for yourself as you would any other loved one!
Stay safe and well!
Please share your thoughts! All comments and ideas are welcome and will be shared with the community to motivate others! I thank you ahead of time for your interest and participation!
Be kind and love one another, as well as yourself! :)