Care (noun): the work of providing treatment for or attending to someone or something; activity involved in maintaining something in good working order; maintenance at a regularly scheduled time; Care (verb): to look after, mind, watch, protect, tend, nurse, or manage.
I recently gave a talk as part of a local speaker series for a community organization here in Santa Monica, California. Attendees participated in powerful exploration around an extremely important, yet often overlooked topic: Self-care.
In our results-driven, productivity-focused society, it is hardly a surprise that self-care is not included in the dictionary. We can, however, break it down and apply the pertinent part of the definition of care: “the activity involved in maintaining something in good working order.” That “something” is us.
Keeping our “self” in good working order requires willingness, commitment and loving discipline. It may sound challenging – especially given all of the to-dos in our day. Nevertheless, the truth is, if we are going to “take care” of other people and things, we MUST take care of ourselves first.
A great case in point is demonstrated each time we fly on an airplane. During the safety presentation, they tell you to put your own mask on first, before you help your child. Did you ever wonder why? The answer is because it would be challenging or even impossible for us to assist someone else if we were unable to breathe ourselves. Simply put, we can take better care of others when we take care of ourselves first. This is a guiding principle for me as a coach, consultant, speaker, friend, colleague, partner and family member.
So, I ask you, in what areas of your life could you be taking better care of yourself? Where could you step-up your self-care, and how might it create short and long-term benefits?
Here are a few suggestions:
Go to sleep an hour earlier to feel more rested and decrease fatigue
Get up 30 minutes earlier to make time for a workout, stretching, breakfast and/or meditation
Incorporate some sort of exercise into your day – even it is a walk around the block
Schedule a massage, time with friends, a dance class or something else that makes you feel nurtured and alive
Eat three meals, and healthful snacks in-between, to manage your blood sugar and maintain energy and alertness
Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and energized
Express your gratitude for all the good things in your life
Take a few deep breaths to relax your nervous system
Exercise healthy boundaries: learn to say “no” and avoid over-committing so there is time and energy for YOU.
Making YOU a priority in your life is an essential part of effective self-care. While you may hold an old or irrational belief that taking care of yourself is selfish, I invite you to consider the idea that it is actually self-honoring. Remember…as the definition says, care is activity involved in keeping something in good working order. That is far from a luxury. It’s a requirement, and one of the most important Tools To Life.