When you hear the words “self-care” what does it mean to you? Does it simply mean eating three square meals a day and getting a good night sleep? Maybe there are things you do, if not consciously, that could be considered selfcare practices even if you haven’t thought of it that way.
It is not uncommon in today’s world to hear people say they are stressed out. And while experiencing stress is not itself a bad thing, experiencing prolonged, unrelenting stress can be harmful to both our psychological and physical health.
If you want to learn how to manage stress better, one approach to doing so is to improve/increase your selfcare practices. Taking care of yourself can help provide a feeling of stability and confidence, which can increase your resilience to stress and make you more effective at managing life’s challenges.
In my counselling practice I sometimes encounter individuals who feel worn out. They feel their resources are all but tapped. Sometimes they describe a life in which they give, give, give, until they have nothing left. Essentially their own wellbeing has slipped way down the list when it comes to priorities.
Parents can probably relate to this as much as anyone. You want the best for your children, so naturally you make their needs a priority. However, sometimes in the process of raising children we forget about our own needs. And those needs go well beyond food, shelter, and water. They include a feeling of wellness, having good relationships, experiencing peace of mind, feeling you are an effective parent, and having some sense of control in your life. When these things start to unravel so too does our ability to effectively manage the challenges that can come our way.
Taking care of your self is not selfish. In fact, it is one of the greatest gifts you can give. When you begin to take better care of yourself, it follows that you have more to give others. Self-care affects everyone that you come into contact with. Treating yourself well and caring for your body, mind, and spirit makes you a better partner, a better parent, and a better friend. And keep in mind that you can teach your children a great deal by modeling the behaviours you would like for them. If you want your children to take care of themselves then let them see their parents doing the same.
Psychology can help us gain a broader view of self-care. The term psychology comes from two words: “psyche,” meaning soul or spirit, and “logos,” which translates to study or meaning. At its essence, psychology is the study of spirit. And while we certainly need to take care of our physical selves by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep, taking care of your psyche means pursuing those things that feed your spirit. While the possibilities for doing so are endless, here are a few suggestions that have proven fruitful for countless people over time: spending time in nature, listening to music, praying, meditating, walking, spending time with loved ones, being creative, and reading from the wisdom of the ages.
Keep in mind that similar to maintaining good physical health our psyche requires some dedication of time and effort. If your time is limited as it probably is, then try doing one thing you believe will add to your sense of wellbeing. Take care of yourself by feeding your spirit and everyone around you will benefit.
I leave you with the following story:
One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’