**Thank you for reading the self-care series! The practitioners highlighted in the series are great resources for bringing some self-care practice into your world. The final post will wrap up the power of self-care on balancing the whole self.**
Self-care is a way to let your light shine within you so that you may shine your light onto others. When we care for ourselves, we care for all parts of us that need love and nourishment. Self-care means goodness for the whole self; mind, body, and spirit. This may look different for everyone, but has the same effect in all of us: balance.
Self-care is something that is difficult to clearly define and describe as it is different for everyone. What may be self-caring for me might be hard work and despair for someone else. Even just identifying self-care practices are a way to turn inward to find what your body, mind, and spirit need. This time spent only on you does not have a time requirement. It can be a few minutes or maybe even a whole year. This is the time to find what feels good to you, works for you, and nourishes you. No pressure, no limitations, no rules.
The one requirement to self-care is to practice self-care. We are essentially trained and raised to work for others and for goals and achievements. It is not taught to us that part of this life is enjoying this life. When we work so hard to meet personal or outward standards, we lose sight of what really matters. It is important, no matter how busy or giving we are, that we take time to care for ourselves.
I like to break up self-care into body, mind, and spirit.
Self-care for the body can include so many things. These are things to promote health, wellness, and nourishment to the body. This might include exercise, massage, dance, yoga, walking, hiking, lotion, oil, stretching, nutrition, what you drink, what you eat, etc. This does not mean you have to have a restricted diet and exercise routine. This means eating healthy but treating yourself to things you love in a moderation. This means exercising and moving the body in ways that feel good to you. It is a balance of what is good for the body, what feels good on the body, and what strengthens and nourishes the body.
Self-care for the mind might include therapy, meditation, journaling, napping, quiet time, puzzles, reading, laughing, relationships, writing/journaling, gardening, crafting, etc. The mind is nourished in so many ways. This involves taking time to find awareness of what is strenuous and stressful to the mind and ways to promote a more calm and clarifying practice. This might mean setting time for screen breaks, negative relationship breaks, work breaks, and thinking breaks. This is taking a pause on what gets the mind spinning setting off the fight or flight aspect of our nervous systems. This is doing what stimulates the calming aspect of our nervous system. It is a balance.
This will definitely look different for everyone. Spirit is connection and awareness of what is beyond us in this physical world or a faith in something. This might look more traditional like prayer or spiritual worship and praise. It might look like meditation and reflection. Spiritual self-care might be connecting with the earth or the natural world. Spiritual self-care might even occur or involve connection with another being, another human, plant, or creature. Whatever it is for you, it is a balance.
The great thing is that often when we practice self-care for one aspect of our whole self, the other aspects are nourished as well. When we eat a delicious and nutritious meal our mind becomes clear. When we meditate, our body releases tension. When we tend to a garden, our spirit comes alive. They all work together in a beautiful balance.
Today my self-care practice was going outside in the morning to meditate. Sometimes I meditate with music or sometimes with the sounds of nature. This morning, I found some rocks around my patio. I am sure they are just store bought rocks that you get in bulk at hardware stores. But for me, these rocks were everything I needed this morning for my time for myself. I sat with the rocks just holding them, feeling them, noticing them. Doing nothing more for twenty minutes.
Yesterday, my self-care practice looked extremely different. I curled up under some blankets with my cozy socks on and watched a favorite TV show for a few hours. Although very different than today’s self-care practice, I still took time for me, to do something only for me, and that brought me comfort and calm.
Tomorrow, who knows. My self-care might be two minutes long and involve something completely different than rocks or TV. However, it will be only for me and time for me to nourish all of me. No pressure, no restrictions, all for the self.
Self-care is what makes your life whole. It is nourishment. It is balance. Most importantly, it is OK for you to do. It is absolutely the best gift we can give to ourselves. YOU deserve this gift. It is all for YOU!
May you find a self-care practice that brings you balance for a nourished body, a loved mind, and a joyous spirit.