You are the most important element of your own life. The care and attention you give yourself is the one of the main keys to creating a profoundly happy and compelling life for yourself.
Unfortunately, for most of us, taking excellent care of ourselves becomes a challenge that may seem insurmountable. Taking care of yourself in a loving and happy way can seem like such a huge task. And yet, it is through the care that you give to yourself that your ability to achieve your bigger purpose becomes available.
Many of us, especially those of us who are in helping professions or tend to be nurturers also tend to ignore our physical space in the world, including our bodies and our homes. For most of us it is the last thing on our minds. We are typically more concerned with others needs and feelings that we tend to ignore our own needs and feelings or completely miss the fact that we have our own needs and feelings.
Let this serve as either a reminder that you are important. You must take care of yourself to have the time, space and energy to achieve your dreams and in order to have the time space and energy to be there for others. Just think about the people in your life right now who depend on you for care and support. What will they do without you? I know that you have heard this kind of warning before, but instead of taking it as a warning, take it as a moment when you get to choose to put yourself high on your list of priorities and begin the rewarding process of taking excellent care of yourself.
Ok, Enough with the lecture! Let’s get to the good stuff.
So, what does it mean to take excellent care of yourself?
Wikipedia defines Self-Care as personal health maintenance. It is any activity of an individual, family or community, with the intention of improving or restoring health, or treating or preventing disease.
For each person this list will be different. But the important thing to remember is that Self Care is a matter of creating a well-rounded physical representation of who you are.
There is a saying that your Psychology becomes your Biology. So, if I were to ask you what your biology says about your psychology right now, what would you say?
To take great care of yourself, I want to work with you on changing some very common misconceptions about self-care.
In our society, getting you to take care of yourself has become a huge billion-dollar industry. There are clubs, pills, boot camps, yoga studios, marathons, diet foods, personal trainers, and many other means to help you get on track to taking care of yourself.
In my opinion, these things are great to incorporate into your life, but the problem is they are being presented to us as a positive solution to a negative motivation.
For example, how many times have you heard something like this:
If you don’t take care of your heart, you increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
If you don’t lose weight, you increase your risk of diabetes.
If you don’t take your supplements your bone density could cause you to break a hip later in life.
While statistically, all of that is true, the information itself has caused information overload and a sense of apathy. In fact, you are being told that if you don’t do something now, bad things might happen to you later; so often that you might not even know where to start. The very idea of self-care seems complicated and so vast that it is probably not attainable, so why even try.
While self-care does seem complicated, it is certainly something that you can achieve. One of the first things to do to take excellent care of ourselves is reframe the motivation. Let’s look at our earlier example of a negative frame for taking excellent care of yourself.
If you don’t’ take care of your heart, you increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
This really is a scary thought. The misconception is that if we are afraid of something we will do something about it. This may be true for some people, but for most people when we are afraid of something we tend to avoid it. So, rather than approach this idea of taking care of your heart from a negative perspective, let’s look at it from what we want.
What we don’t want is a heart attack or stroke. What we do want is a healthy heart. So, let’s focus on a healthy heart. What is a healthy heart and what helps keep our heart healthy as opposed to how do we prevent heart disease
What is a healthy heart? A healthy heart is one that pumps blood throughout our bodies with regularity and without struggle. How do we maintain a healthy heart? By eating heart healthy foods and by working with our hearts to make it stronger by doing regular cardio vascular exercises.
It really is that simple. Don’t approach self-care from a negative perspective of fear.
As you may know, I am from New Orleans and both my parents are from the Mississippi Gulf Coast just minutes from New Orleans. Amazing rich food is a very big part of the culture as is partaking in libations on a regular basis. There is a lot of fun and romance in the food and in serving food.
As I grew up in a family that was no stranger to ham, potato salad, fried chicken and homemade sweet potato pies, I saw my elders start to pass away in rather sever and traumatic ways. Sudden Heart Attacks, Massive strokes, incurable cancers, and debilitating diabetes where all represented in my grandparents, great aunt and uncles and cousins.
I am sure this many sound familiar to you as well. I am also sure that had my grandfather known that 30 minutes 3 times a week on a tread mill would add years to his life and prevent his third and final heart attack, he would have happily purchased and used one. I am sure that if my grandmother had known that eating pie for dessert caused her diabetes to get worse, she might have gone for a less sugary treat.
Think back at your grandparents if you can. Did they know what to do, how to do it and when to do it in order to prevent such illnesses? I guess it depends upon your age and theirs but mine certainly didn’t.
Given this perspective, we can approach our own self-care from the direction of fear. I don’t want to die that way. Or we can approach our own self-care from the perspective of gratitude. I am so grateful to know what my grandparents didn’t know. I am so happy to know that by taking care of myself I can live a longer, more satisfying life.
Another thing I see in our world is this whole perspective of making yourself work out and forcing yourself to go beyond our limits to look good and feel good. I don’t believe that we need to force ourselves to do anything and that when we force ourselves to feel pain to feel good we feel less motivated to do it. This is the reason so many people sign up for the gym and then never go. We are told that we must feel the burn and experience physical pain to reap the benefits. This may be true to some degree, but it really is a matter of perspective.
When we set out to physically move our bodies with the express purpose of feeling pain, we are less likely to show up. But when we set out to physically move our bodies because we enjoy what we are doing or because we find what we are doing to be rewarding, we are much more likely to show up.
So, which perspective are you approaching your self-care from? Fear or gratitude. I’d like to invite you to think about what self-care means to you when you are coming from a perspective of gratitude?
I am grateful for the body, mind and spirit that I have and I’m happy to do what it takes to take excellent care of it.
Take Care of Yourself