By: Emily Neilsen
The term “self care” is everywhere, yet its definition is squishy, at best. The term often conjures images of stressed out moms taking group trips to the spa, getting massages, and going on yoga retreats. Certainly, these things can be self care. But, self care can be much simpler and is often most effective when it is integrated into everyday life. It also does not need to cost anything.
At its most basic, self-care is simply taking care of oneself and one’s needs. It stems from the idea that we cannot give endlessly (to our loved ones, our careers, those in need, etc.) without also taking care of ourselves. In fact, self care is much more effective if we approach it proactively, instead of reactively, by incorporating simple routines into our lives, and maintaining them even when we feel good. These habits can also be renewing and energy conserving, allowing us to move through the world more calmly and peacefully.
What is proactive self-care? Truly, anything you do that supports your mental, physical, and spiritual health before you feel burnt out or exhausted.
A few examples:
- Doing something ahead of time to increase calm and decrease chaos during busy moments: Making your bed in the morning, laying out clothes for next day, meal planning for the week, or doing anything that will help you feel calm, organized, and centered in the future.
- Creating a short bedtime routine that allows you to feel relaxed and grounded before heading to sleep: e.g. journaling, meditating, taking a bath, or reading.
- Getting extra sleep before you feel over tired or scheduling time in your calendar that is reserved for relaxing, not accomplishing.
- Addressing your physical and emotional health before symptoms arise. This could mean changing your diet, incorporating more or different forms of exercise, sleeping more, or seeking counseling, among many other possibilities.
- Self care can also be about asking for help or saying “no” to invitations and requests that are draining or don’t easily fit into your schedule.
As with any new habit or goal, you may find that integrating proactive self-care can be challenging. Start small, by identifying and incorporating one or two small changes that fit well into your life. Be patient with, and kind to, yourself (that’s self-care, too!)
Here are a few articles for additional information: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201810/7-tips-good-self-care
Emily Neilsen is a mother and educator, who loves asking big questions, digging in the soil, swimming in natural bodies of water, and playing outdoors. She is a 500-hour and Prenatal certified yoga instructor. Emily currently plans arts & cultural events and reading initiatives, and works with first-year students at Northern Vermont University-Johnson. She cares deeply about health and believes mental health, movement, and diet play essential roles in wellness. Emily lives with her husband and 2-year-old, as well as a husky and a calico cat in Hyde Park, VT.