By Rebekah Kane
Daily TLC is a necessity, not a luxury. It took me over 20 years to realize the power of truly taking care of myself and how to nurture, nourish, love, and embrace my body, soul and mind with self-care and TLC. I do not remember being taught the value of knowing what makes me feel good, or how to create my own sense of being grounded and centered. So, it took a lot of trial and error to learn what a solid sense of well-being feels like and to investigate what actions and choices can bring those feelings. This has been a painstaking process at best, and yet I came to appreciate that what my body and intuition are telling me is exactly what I need in that moment. Listening to and trusting those messages is the hard part.
I jokingly refer to myself as a “recovering Type A” personality. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with possessing the drive to accomplish goals, striving to reach new heights and grow through the process, I discovered that for many years I had been living in the midst of chronic anxiety and stress. That stress became the norm for me, and it took a while to realize how a fast-paced “go, go, go” mentality was not truly working for me. At first, this approach served my need to feel purposeful and satisfied by doing and being more. But I learned, I was never completely satisfied or happy or content for long. Instead, I was creating higher and higher levels of stress and getting easily burnt out.
I bet we can all probably think of clear examples like this, of when we have faced unnecessary and negative consequences because of not caring for the self. What if you could have fewer negative consequences and more positive experiences and feelings? Practicing self-care and self-love can remove these negative, stressful emotions and replace them with positive thoughts and emotions.
How you define self-care is unique and specific only to you, and can change over time. So, if you are willing to take the opportunity to discover what exactly self-care looks like and feels like for you, it can be a valuable investment. Learning how to find the foundational practices that help you to feel that you are taking the best possible care of your body, mind, heart and spirit can be easy.
What does self-care mean to you? You. Neither society, nor people in your life, nor anyone else can define this for you.
Believe and trust in what your body and spirit tell you you need. This is your internal guide to building best practices for yourself. For example, one of my non-negotiable foundational ways of taking care of my mind and body is to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. I am a happier, more focused and energetic version of myself, simply with enough consistent sleep.
Self-care does not only equate with the physical care of the body. Dan Siegel, clinical psychiatrist, professor at UCLA, and Executive Director of Mindsight Institute, claims that there are 7 ways we can spend our time to support our well-being: Sleep time, physical time (What physical activity and exercise serves you best?), focus time (What activities help you to concentrate?), time inward (How do you appreciate solitude, self-reflection and time alone?), play time (How do you play and build in creative, new experiences?) connecting time (building and nurturing relationships) and down time (How do like to relax and renew?). Siegel says all of these areas are necessary to maintain healthy mental well-being. These can also be the areas of our lives in which we can define our own self-care needs. Which are your priorities?
Taking that bubble bath with a glass of wine on a weekday evening, making time to meditate for 5 minutes in the morning to start your day, or stepping outside at lunch to walk for 15 minutes are not huge actions. But they are simple practices that may literally hold the key to changing how you feel and empowering you to lead your life in a way that fully supports and energizes you.
Investing time in doing what you love makes you feel good, and that feeling generates a level of energy that impacts how you connect with yourself and others. Depending on the moment or time of day, I might want to feel peaceful, calm, energized, inspired, connected, or carefree. We each have a range of feelings that we can choose to bring out by the actions that we take during our days. What are the feelings you want to feel and how will you generate those feelings?
Self-care practices change how we feel and those feelings can build confidence in trusting our intuition. Trusting yourself by listening to what you need and want can lead to increased trust in your choices and decisions in all areas of life. When we care for ourselves we have so much more to give to others. We can then bring our best self to our families, communities, and life’s work. All our interactions take on a clearer and deeper quality of meaning when we have cared for ourselves first. It is not being selfish. Consider caring for yourself in the ways that feed your soul, body and mind, as showing up as the best person you can be for your own life and for all those you care about and give of yourself to.
What are your foundational self-care practices? What is one small sustainable step that you can take today to incorporate or change something about your self-care practice? Pay attention. Notice how you feel when you give yourself the time to listen to what you need and want. Then find a way to cherish and honor the practice of giving yourself TLC every day.
Rebekah Kane, Founder of Tell a New Story Coaching, coaches and empowers people through job, career and life transitions with less stress, more balance, ease and joy. www.tellanewstorycoaching.com