I WANT TO LIVE A HEALTHY AND PAIN FREE LIFE, NOW!
November 13, 2019
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
8 oz. coconut water or water
2 cups greens
2 Tbsp. nut butter
¼ cup berries or cherries
3-4 basil leaves or
1 scoop protein powder or choice (pea protein, hydrolyzed beef or collagen)
Stevia to taste (optional)
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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?
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Yours in wellness,
Monica Paz, MS, CN, FNLP
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Photo by: Alisha Mishra
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