Taking time for you: The Benefits of Self Care

I recently started journaling for my overall health and well being. I am not big on journaling unless it serves as a purpose or meaning for me. Where I am at in life, I am constantly looking for ways to become a better person. I’m not saying I think I’m some terrible person, rather, how can I push myself further to inspire myself and others. I love this journal that was given to me by a dear friend called Practice You by Elena Brower. In my first journal entry, I randomly selected a page to start journaling and the prompt in the journal was “This is how I give myself love”. To my surprise, I never thought about how I give myself love.This concept of self love was somewhat foreign to me. As a mother, wife, nurse, business owner...the list is long... I can honestly say that the majority of my efforts have been focused on giving love, caring for others, physically, emotionally, mentally...not caring for myself. I answered the question, “do we need to do this?” Loving myself is selfish, greedy, time that I don’t have.

Why Journal? Journaling is a great way to discover who you are, your thoughts, beliefs, preconceived notions about life. Journaling also provides a time of self reflection on your writings. One of the biggest discoveries I identified was that I didn’t really understand what self care was and what self care was not.

What is self care? Self care is an intentional act that we perform to drive a positive action, promoting our mental, emotional and physical well being. The biggest component is being intentional with the activity. I could list off several activities for you to perform related to self care like take a bath, listen to your favorite music or knit but only you know what you need to help you achieve an overall state of well being.

What self care is not... Self care is not something we force ourselves to do nor should we feel obligated or compelled to do it. If you like to cook but feel obligated to make dinner for your family, this is not self care. Self care is not selfish or feeling like your overindulging in yourself. Taking time for you, nourishing your mind, body and soul will only aid in others around you. Self care should be a priority and a necessity of life. If you have ever cared for someone ill, maybe an aging parent, finding time for respite gives you a chance to rest, reset and re-energize so you can give the best version of you.

Finding balance through self care So where do you start? Below is a couple of concepts to assist you with identifying ways of self care that are special to you. Grab a notebook or journal and jot down things that you find enjoyable, relaxing and grounding. Start by thinking about when you were a child and what small moments you remember that brings a calmness or comfort to you. For example, some nights when I walk in from the car to the house, I look up at the sky and admire the stars. When I was little, I loved playing outside in the summer, climbing trees to escape from being tagged during hide and seek. I would sit high in the tree and admire the stars. Just stealing one moment to be present, allowing me to find my breath allows me to walk into the house of screaming people hungry for dinner without losing my mind. Change your daily routines to a self care routine. I love coffee. Making a cup of coffee for myself, drinking it while my dog sits on my lap before anyone gets up allows space for me in the world. I try to not clutter my mind with activities to come but rather focus in on the smell of my coffee and the cuddles from my St. Bernard. You probably already have a routine established. Bringing awareness and intention to your routine transforms that this activity from a routine is a self care act. Be aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it in and maintaining mindfulness while performing the self care act. Once you identified certain self care activities, remain present, focused and evaluate how you are feeling in the moments. Be aware of your facial expressions, can you feel a sensation inside of you of happiness or calmness or is your mind racing to the next task. If you are new on your self care journey, maybe use your journal as a way to keep track of your thoughts and feelings. Overtime, your self care acts will become part of you leading to decreased stress and anxiety.

Taking time for yourself and performing acts of self care will aid in your overall health and well being. Self care acts can be a quick as taking a pause, closing your eyes and focusing in on your breath to journaling to reading a book. Remember self care is intentional, driving a positive state of mental, physical and emotional health. Taking time for yourself is not selfish but a way for us to care for ourselves so we can be the best version of ourselves to others.

Matthew Huth