When everyday life becomes busy, even overwhelming, how are you taking care of yourself? For many of us, daily life can include juggling responsibilities and attending to the needs of those around us, and it is so easy to get swept up in all that comes with taking care of others. Whether you are a caregiver in the sense that you work in a healing or helping profession, you are a parent, a teacher, or a caregiver in any other sense of the word, it is not uncommon to get swept up in the needs of others, wrapped up in taking care of others, and thus moving farther away from attending to our own needs. What can happen when the caring balance is off is an accumulation of feeling drained, exhausted, or even resentful, when more of our resources are going out than coming in. Noticing the times when you feel drained, exhausted, or even resentful can be the start to shifting the caring balance back to a place of harmony. This noticing may be a sign or invitation to ask yourself about how you are taking care of yourself presently.
Self care is any activity or practice that serves to nurture our mental, physical, and emotional health; it’s how we can feed ourselves on the levels of body, mind, and soul. Self care isn’t selfish; it is essential to our wellbeing, which in turn helps us to be better equipped to care for and offer support to others. Self care is what helps us refuel, and practicing good self care regularly can help us live more balanced lives. Through practicing self care regularly we can be better caregivers. Especially in times of overwhelm or higher stress, practicing self care can help fill you up- you can’t pour from an empty cup!
What lies beneath the surface of the activities and practices that count as “self care” is about resourcing and figuring out how you know what you need. So there is an element of self-awareness needed here to get more familiar with your unique needs for self-care.
How do you know what you need? What self-care tool will help this time?
This is not prescriptive, nor is it an exhaustive list. This is more of an invitation for you to explore and to begin to build in self care practices to your life. I invite you to get curious and creative in the process.
It starts with tuning in to yourself (or self-attuning). It may include asking yourself, “how am I really doing?” To start practicing this skill of self-attuning, I invite you to get comfortable and take a few moments to check in with yourself. However that makes sense to you, whether it involves closing your eyes, taking a few deep cleansing breaths, and scanning your body for sensations and feelings, go ahead and “check in”. This is how we can start to get to know and better support ourselves. From here, I invite you to spend some time thinking about (and feeling into) what kind of activities and practices would meet your needs in these three categories of self care: body, mind, and soul.
Self care for physical health- What supports your physical body: consider healthy diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques here as elements to support your physical foundation.
Self care for mental health- What helps you calm your mind when stress has you feeling frazzled? What kinds of sounds are soothing to your mind? What happens when you pay attention to your breath?
Self care for the soul- What helps you feel settled and grounded in your core? What is something that lifts your spirit? What helps you feel closer to inhabiting your authentic self?
I invite you to take some time for yourself and start with writing down 2 ideas for body, mind, and soul that might be self care tools you can build into your life.
What does self care mean to you?
Kitta MacMorris, LMFT