What are the Benefits of Self-Care?

November 13, 2019

What are the Benefits of Self-Care?

 

What are the Benefits of Self-Care?

When asked the question “do you practice self-care?” most people don’t know how to answer. They assume you’re asking them if they look both ways when crossing the street or if they brush their teeth every day.

Self-care is not selfish care, as it may sound. It is actually selfless care.  It’s the practice of taking an active role in caring for your physical, mental and emotional well-being, particularly in times of stress. Self-care can lead to lowering anxiety, blood pressure and it also promotes healing.

It’s important to understand that when we take care of our emotional and physical well-being, we are also taking care of the people around us. Self-care helps us get to a point of balance where we gain the benefit of a well working body and a calm mind. It’s only when we take the time to care for our bodies that we can garner enough energy to take care of others in our lives.

The concept of self-care has become very popular in the last few years, but it’s by no means a new idea. Women have been practicing beauty rituals and healing routines for centuries. Growing up in Colombia, my high school friends and I had our “Saturday routine”: We would do a sleepover at someone’s house and would take turns “grooming” each other’s hair, nails, and we’d do facials on each other. This lasted for hours and during that time we took care of each other, listened to each other and spent time together. What a way to recharge and connect! I had no idea this was healing and soothing to my body and my mind. Little did I know we were supporting our parasympathetic nervous systems. That’s the part of our brain that helps us go from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest”.

These days I’m lucky if I can carve out an hour to have some tea with a friend without having to plan it a whole month ahead, but now I recognize the benefits of self-care and I know they go farther than grooming. Our society has become too preoccupied with time and busyness and now we suffer from anxiety, depression, pain, irritability and all kinds of emotional issues that take over our lives and affect us and those people we love most.

So, what qualifies as self-care and how do we know where to start? Self-care is anything you do that makes you feel good and is beneficial to your well-being. It can be taking a nap on your day off or going outside to feel the ground between your toes. It can be sitting quietly for a few minutes first thing in the morning to breathe or it can be taking a long bath with soothing Epsom salts or essential oils. One thing is very important to remember: If your self-care routine is taking over your life, if it becomes another chore or if it feels like a burden, it’s not beneficial to you. Self-care needs to be something you look forward to doing and something that leaves you feeling better than when you started the routine.

The list of choices for self-care routines is very long and it can include something as small as writing in a journal or spending time petting your dog every day. The routine you choose is up to you and it can be as long or short as you like. This is your personal choice and it only needs to feel relaxing to you.

A self-care routine is healing and enjoyable, yet the most important self-care you can provide your body is a clean diet with loads of nutrient-dense foods. I recommend starting with a 30-day period of a ritual where you get rid of the toxins that are keeping you feeling sick, lacking in energy and inflamed. The impact of this commitment to yourself will give you the energy to focus on healing. Start with breakfast: Remove sugar, gluten, dairy, coffee (I know I lost you here, but the rewards are incredible) and replace your processed foods with foods that nourish your body. The changes will be remarkable.

A good breakfast smoothie will provide all the nutrients you need to give you energy without the heaviness of the carbs and sugar we have grown accustomed to eating. Here is a great recipe that could get you started:

 

Monica’s Breakfast Smoothie 

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

8 oz. coconut water or water

½ avocado

2 cups greens

2 Tbsp. nut butter

¼ cup berries or cherries

¼ cucumber

3-4 basil leaves or

1 scoop protein powder or choice (pea protein, hydrolyzed beef or collagen)

Stevia to taste (optional)

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Be sure to start with the liquid first and then add all other ingredients to prevent caking of the powders at the bottom of the blender. Enjoy!

Additionally, here are some of the healing self-care routines I recommend for my clients because I find them beneficial and healing. Try them and if they work for you, adopt them or come up with your own. Whatever you do, enjoy yourself and relax!

  1. Meditation:
    • Sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on the breath.
    • Place one hand on the chest and one hand on the abdomen.
    • Inhale softly.
    • Exhale longer (twice as long as the inhale). Hold briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
    • You should feel your ribs expanding and your abdomen moving when you breathe. Try not to breathe using your chest. Your hand over the abdomen should feel the breath, not the hand over the chest.
  2. Journal:
    • Writing your feelings and your thoughts can help you process feelings.
    • Sit in a favorite place and write the way you think.
    • Note your beliefs, dreams, hopes, even your anger and irritation.
    • Notice how leaving your thoughts on paper helps you feel lighter.
  3. Community:
    • Choose a few friends to share and be in community.
    • Consider planning outings and activities that help you get out of your environment.
    • Spend time with people who value what you value.
    • Help people or animals in need. Stand up for them and serve them in any way you see fit.
  4. Spend time in nature:
    • Walking in the forest changes your gut microbiome and other good bacteria in your nostrils and your lungs.
    • Appreciate clean air and nature. Breathe it in, get dirty, spend time outside.
    • Go for a walk or a hike, either alone or with a friend. This is renewing and helps clear your brain.
  5. Castor Oil Packs:
    • Castor oil is very soothing, and it helps nourish and support the liver.
    • It’s beneficial to your entire digestive system.
    • Place a small amount of castor oil over your liver area (under your right rib cage), put on an old t-shirt and place a hot water bottle over the area.
    • Do the castor oil pack form 5-20 minutes. It’s ok to fall asleep with it on your abdomen.
  1. Dry Skin Brushing:
    • Dry skin brushing improves lymph and blood flow.
    • You may purchase a brush online or at your local health food store. Pick one with natural fibers and a long wooden handle.
    • Do this once daily, either morning or evening.
  2. Detoxification Baths:
    • 2 cup Epsom Salts and 2 cups baking soda.
    • Soak for 20 minutes and relax.
    • Listen to soothing music or read a book.
  3. Hydrotherapy:
    • Finish your hot shower with a spritz of cold water over the body to improve circulation and lymph flow.
    • Work up to longer times in cold water, up to 3-5 minutes.
    • You can start with hot water, then switch to cold. Go back to hot water and repeat as many times as you can tolerate.
    • Always end with cold water.
  4. Exercise:
    • At a minimum, walk 30 minutes per day.
    • Try going 15 minutes away from home and back.
    • Start with five minutes one way and five minutes back.
    • Movement and consistency are key! This stimulates lymph and blood flow.
  5. Breathing:
    • Breathing improves blood pH balance and “exercises” the lungs, heart and liver.
    • Start with sitting quietly with your eyes closed and focusing on your diaphragm.
    • Be sure that while you inhale your tummy is moving; not your chest. The exhalation should be longer than the inhalation. Hold your breath for a few seconds at the bottom of the exhale. 
    • Take short inhales, as if "sipping" air. At first, this may seem uncomfortable, but it is in slowing down the breath that we find the most benefit to our bodies. 
    • You may look up “Buteyko Breathing” by Patrick McKeown to learn how to breathe to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Once you start on a self-care routine, you will feel something shift inside of you. You will notice how this time of mindful caring for your own body and mind will transform into a sacred ritual. After a while, the benefits of your self-care routine will become part of who you are and your body will thank you in ways you do not expect: Better digestion, improved sleep, weight management, better moods, increased energy and an overall feeling of well-being. I encourage you to try at least one of the above self-care routines for yourself so you can feel your body healing from the inside out. Your loved ones will also benefit from your self-care routine. If you don’t believe me, you can ask my husband!

Let me know at monica@nourishedfn.com if this helped you in your healing journey.

What are some self-care routines you’ve already been practicing? What holds your back from taking care of yourself?

If this article helped you, please share it with a friend.

Let me know what other subjects would help you improve your health.

Know someone who could benefit from this information?  Use the Social links below to share with friends and family. To receive my blog posts and immediate FREE access to my downloadable resources collection packed with wellness and nutrition insights, subscribe to my newsletter "The Nourished News" by clicking the button below.  

Yours in wellness,

- Monica

Monica Paz, MS, CN, FNLP

 

Photo by: Alisha Mishra




Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in The Nourished News

5 Ways to Balance blood sugar and never have to diet again
5 Ways to Balance blood sugar and never have to diet again

July 07, 2020

Trying to decrease sugar in your diet seems like a daunting task when you don’t know where to start. It’s easy to get overwhelmed because sugar is found in so many foods. 

The objective is to a eat whole food diet that has easy-to-digest foods that include a protein source (meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts/seeds or organic non-GMO tofu), fiber (lots of veggies) and some healthy fat to help delay the release of natural sugar from the rest of the food into the bloodstream. Remember, the key here is to delay the release of sugar into the blood. 

These are 5 simple steps to help you feel prepared and in control of your weekly meals:

Continue Reading

The Surprising Reason You Feel Fatigue and Can’t Lose Weight
The Surprising Reason You Feel Fatigue and Can’t Lose Weight

June 29, 2020

Insulin is a fat storage hormone. It makes you fat, tired and hungry! In this article, I’ll show you how to normalize your blood sugar levels and how to regain your energy and your life back.

Continue Reading

Do you get “hangry” when you skip a meal?
Do you get “hangry” when you skip a meal?

June 22, 2020

Do you get cranky when you skip meals? My client Susan was snapping at people at work and she felt irritable, dizzy and fatigued when she didn’t eat. She thought this was normal; after all, her mother and grandfather had the same condition. Her solution? Eat sugar-containing food every couple of hours and to make sure she had food with her at all times. This wasn’t working...

Continue Reading