What is self care?
Self care is defined as “any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.” It includes safeguarding your body, mind and spirit. It is, simply put, taking care of yourself, yet not at the expense of everything else in life. We all have others who depend on us; family, jobs, friends and self care is not about excluding those others from our lives. It is about finding a balance so that through self care we can be the best possible you. It can help you feel more connected to yourself and the world around you. It will bring you relaxation, rejuvenation and renewed spirit. And it’s hard work! However, it will bring long term benefits you can’t find elsewhere. Benefits for you and for others.
What is self care for you?
Self care is unique to each individual. We all need different things to feel energized and complete. For some its time alone with a good book, for others it may be a night out with friends. But it takes time and attention to what our bodies and emotions are telling us we need for each of us to identify our own authentic requirements. If we review the definition, it is under our control. We can choose each and every day if or how we want to manage our time and meet our needs. It is also deliberate. We are purposeful and plan for our self care time. Scheduling time to listen, reflect and then act allows us to fit this in our busy schedules. And it is self-initiated meaning no one tells us what we should be doing. Granted we can get input and ideas from others yet it is up to us to decide what best fits our own needs.
Identifying what your self care needs are can take some insight and investigation. In “The Art of Extreme Self Care”, Cheryl Richardson suggests you develop your own rhythm and routine by asking yourself what one routine you could put in place this month that would improve your life.
Establish your center. We all have responsibilities, important things that need our attention. If we are not careful, our hearts and minds can be consumed with the task of keeping our busy schedules. Instead of centering ourselves and letting the other elements of our lives take their place around that center we end up shifting our attention. What childhood activity can you resurrect to infuse more joy into your routine? What hobby can you make a priority?
Self care is not a one time deal. It’s the constant repetition of many tiny habits, which together calm you and make sure you’re at your optimum—emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you are feeling stressed and not living authentically, you may need to rebalance.
In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Phillippa Lally and her research team figured out it takes on average 66 days to form a new habit. And that can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person and the circumstances. Habits are a process and not an event. Missing a day will not dramatically effect the outcome, just grant yourself some grace and get back on track.