By: Gabriela Piedrahita
“The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself” - Wallace D. Wattles
For some reason we have been programed to think being busy, exhausted, and sleep deprived equals being successful, so self-care becomes secondary. Some people consider it to be selfish or thoughtless to take time for oneself but really how exactly are we to perform our best if we aren’t our best? As to say, how are we to do if we can’t even be? Self-care takes another level when we realize it is NEEDED in order to be healthy and successful.
So, what is self-care? According to psychotherapist Emily Roberts, self-care is the practice of treating yourself with enough respect that you honor and fulfill your own needs. How many of you often make excuses to not do the things that you know are good for you because you don't have the time or money? Why is it most of us fall into the logic that putting others and their needs first is more important? Don't get me wrong, it’s beautiful doing things for others, but the reality is we cannot pour from an empty cup.
How long do you think your body will run on coffee, red bull, fat burning pills or junk food because you’re too busy to exercise, cook real food or even sleep? How is it you have time for everything and everyone but yourself? What makes other people and situations more important than you?
Helping others is always going to give us peace and joy, as long as we are helping ourselves first because if not, in the long run the psychological impact is not going to be positive. You see, when we always put others first, in some level we are telling ourselves that we are less important, that we are less deserving of our time, energy, attention and resources. Is that how you feel? Do you feel you’re less important? Think about that, self-care goes pretty hand in hand with self-love and therefore is fundamental in order to build and maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves and others.
You may argue “but I don't have time”, well we make time and PRIORITIZE what’s important, and let me tell you, you are important. Some of you may wake up with the best intentions to meditate or exercise even for a few minutes but then start writing an email and get to another until you realize morning’s up, and you have to get to work. So maybe, just maybe you’re not considering your self-care as a priority.
Here are some tips to start loving yourself more with little acts of self-kindness:
Prioritize your health
If you ignore it, you’ll regret it. You need to feel energized, inspired and clear minded to perform at your best. Make sleep a must in your self-care routine, aim for at least 7 hours. Also, move! Take this simple rule: don't go more than 3 days without doing some kind of physical activity be it walking, yoga, running, swimming, dancing, whatever you enjoy. You don't have to join the gym and workout every single day, but just make the commitment to yourself to move your body, you deserve it.
Food is fuel and medicine, it is literally what your body is made of so try to choose wisely. If meal prepping seems overwhelming to you, just start by separating an hour on a weekend to cook something healthy. Invite a friend or family member to do it with you, just as we need to reconnect with ourselves, it’s also important to make time to connect with those we love. Healthy and positive relationships are a huge pillar for human wellbeing.
Schedule self-care as you would any other appointment
If you’re the kind of person that runs on a busy agenda, schedule an appointment with yourself to practice whatever recharges you and gives you joy. Just as any other important meeting: don’t be late, don’t cancel, come with the best attitude and give it your all. Besides, moments of elevated stress are when we can least afford to stop doing the things that contribute to our wellness, so don’t give in, don’t cancel on yourself!
It is not only about you
Self-care is not only beneficial to you, if you are respecting and honoring yourself enough to take time for these practices, you are teaching your loved ones that setting functional boundaries to take care of yourself is important, so they do so too and avoid getting dragged by today's common overworked and stressed society. Would you like your kids, parents, siblings or partner to neglect themselves for you? Didn’t think so.
Don't be selfish with yourself
Yes, buying organic can be more expensive. Yes, meal prepping can take time, but if it's to take care of yourself, it's worth it. Try to see these things as investments in yourself. The whole definition of investing is devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result. I’d say your mental, emotional, physical health and overall wellbeing are worthwhile, won’t you agree?
Learn to say NO
Sometimes we do so much for others and simply don’t put ourselves first enough. If you’re one of those reliable people who everyone can count on for everything, practice saying “no” every once in a while. Often when we say “no” to others, we say “yes” to ourselves.
Set boundaries and know your limits
Your boundaries are what you choose to protect your mind, soul, feelings, body and space. Be it letting go of a toxic relationship, choosing not to be in a harmful environment, having your private space and time to recharge, whatever it is develop boundaries to protect yourself. Self-care also means knowing your limits, it means recognizing when you are doing more than you are used to or can handle. Ask yourself: do you know your red flags? Can you recognize when your taking up too much? Do you try to look for solutions to slow down?
We might not be able to control many things in life, but between a situation and our response is a space, and in that space is our power. How do we feed our power? Attitude, resiliency, gratitude, choosing positive relationships and environments, sticking to our self-care practices and doing the things we know are good for us. This will build up our self-esteem, self-love, and strengthen us to respond better to situations we can’t control in life. It will help us control the impact of reality on the self. Don't take this lightly, exercise your mind, body and soul on a daily basis. Remember to love, respect and properly nourish every dimension of your being, you are worth it.
About the Author: Gabriela Piedrahita
Gabriela is a Research Fellow from Colombia who is currently interning at the Center for Integrative Medicine to complete her Bachelors in Psychology. She is also a Certified Nutrition Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York and has taken some Nutritional Psychology classes in the JFK University. With her mother and two sisters, Gabriela is part of Stamina in Action, a Mentoring and Coaching Firm targeted to women’s achievement of wholesomeness by activating their power to do good in their inner and outer world. She’s also done some research on the two most common mental illnesses of our time - depression and anxiety - and how these can be prevented and treated through nutrition, exercise and yoga/meditation practices. Gabriela is committed to making a difference in the world one person at a time, helping people achieve their best selves while she continuously evolves into the best version of herself possible.
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