What does self-care actually mean?

I think self-care will mean different things to different people. For me it means changing my habits and patterns so that I can feel healthy and strong in my body, that I can be flexible and creative in my thinking, that I can be open with, connected to and compassionate with the people around me and that I can stay focused on what is happening in the present moment. That all sounds amazing doesn’t it..?

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Now, here is what that actually looks like:

  1. Body – I have accepted that right now, I am not someone who is going to go to a gym every day or run five miles. But, what I am enjoying (and have time for) is a beginner’s yoga class once a week, getting out and taking a 30 minute walk more days than not, and looking for more ways to be active throughout the day. I recently bought a Fitbit and I am enjoying the challenge of adding more steps or distance each day. Eating, instead of focusing on not eating or avoiding certain foods, I’m trying to add in two servings of vegetables (not corn or potatoes…or ketchup!) and more protein into each meal. Not only do I feel better, but I don’t crave sugar as much. Who knew?! These small manageable changes have improved my sleep immensely! When I walk and eat more vegetables, I need less sleep to feel good. I when from feeling groggy after nine hours of sleep to rested after seven hours. Amazing, how’s that for more time!
  2. Psychological – As a result of having more energy physically, I am more focused and productive throughout the day and that means I get more done. My thinking is clear, focused and overwhelmingly positive. I feel happier, capable, and effective. Meditation (not quite daily yet) has increased these changes and my awareness that the change occurred. As a result my behavior is goal driven, task-oriented, and focused on improvement and prevention. Procrastination no longer dominates my days.
  3. Social – Although, for now grad school takes priority in my life, when I have free time I spend it with family and friends. Isolating myself feels less rewarding. I am more understanding and compassionate to other people, as a result I think of my beinng more honest and aware of my own humanness.
  4. Spiritual – I have always liked the idea that there was some grand logic to the universe, that everything and everyone is connected and interdependent. I am know starting to view spirituality as a template for living a value-driven and coherent life. It’s how each of us answer the question of “what sustains you?”. Another gem from my favorite professor. The fun part for me is that I’m just starting to explore this is a conscious way.

That’s quick look as what self-care means to me these days. I feel committed to looking at my patterns of behavior, exploring whether or not they help me feel good and accomplish my goals, and little by little changing the ones that don’t. I find myself wondering what self-care means to you, dear readers.

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