It’s Dr. Kelly Wood, your Balanced Living Health and Wellness expert. My mission is to help women (and a few courageous men) who may struggle with their weight and experience one or more chronic illnesses overcome their limitations and achieve total wellness and balanced living: mind,body and spirit. I do this through my blog, speaking and individualized group and VIP Balanced Living programs.
Have you ever been on a commercial flight?
If so, you’ve heard the safety announcement which no one really listens to. “In the event of loss of cabin pressure, you should secure your oxygen mask before you assist others”. This analogy has been used countless times to describe self-care, but it’s true, how can you help others if you can’t breathe?
Self-care is like air. You need it to thrive. You have to take care of your emotional, physical and spiritual health before you can fully give of yourself to your family, friends or career.
I didn’t know self-care was a thing until a few months ago when I was stressed out, worried and overwhelmed by a difficult situation I was experiencing. I found that when I took the time to care for myself, I was better able to deal with my life.
I however had to re-frame my thinking first. We’re taught as children that we shouldn’t be selfish. We should be kind and put others before ourselves. As adults we often do this, setting aside our own needs to meet those others – much to the detriment of our emotional and mental health.
Self-care is not selfish!
Self-care is any activity that you do deliberately in order nurture you. It’s identifying your needs and taking steps to meet them. It’s treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.
Why is self care so important?
- Your health improves. It promotes calm and relaxation. It improves both physical and mental health by reducing the effects of prolonged stress on your mind and body. Your mood improves and anxiety is reduced.
- Promotes self-love. Self-care is necessary to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. When you truly appreciate and care for yourself, your confidence and self-esteem improves.
- Helps you re-focus. Just like taking a break during a difficult project or assignment to come back to it refreshed, self-care is much the same. It makes you more effective and energetic.
- Improves relationships. You can not pour from an empty cup. Self-care replenishes you and allows you to freely give to others. You can avoid building resentments toward others who demand so much of your energy and time.
Strategies for self-care
Self-care looks different for different people. It’s truly care for you, by you. You can easily incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Here are some strategies:
- Make time for it. Be intentional about setting aside time each day for yourself. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, do something you like which makes you feel good or relaxed. Listen to your favorite song, go for a walk, sit outside, watch a movie or read a book.
- Learn to say NO. Stop doing things you no longer want to do or never liked doing in the first place. This may mean not answering that phone call, not checking work emails at night and not attending gatherings you don’t like. Protect your space from those who drain your energy.
- Take care of your body. Get enough sleep. Most adults usually need 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Eating good, nutritious food and regular exercise are not only beneficial to your physical health but also promote emotional well being as they improve your energy and mood.
- Spend enough time with loved ones. Self-care doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Sometimes spending time with your family or a trusted friend may be what you need. Be fully present when you’re with someone you love. Stop checking your cell phone!
- Don’t forget your spirit. We seldom focus on activities that feed our spirit but this is also important for total wellness. Pray, read scripture. Meditate if even for a few minutes. Writing in a journal is also a good way to unplug and connect with your innermost thoughts.
Self-care takes practice like anything else that’s worthwhile doing. Your well-being however depends on it. I challenge you to do one thing for yourself each day over the next 21 days. Let’s make it a habit!
To learn more about Balanced Living or our programs please connect with me by visiting https://www.facebook.com/DrKellyWoodMD/