I used to think that self-care meant that you treated yourself to a manicure or massage sometimes.
But as I am getting older, I am realizing that self-care is more about honoring what your body and mind need to strive and help you live out the life you want.
A few years ago, I didn’t think much about self-care because I was functioning well and weight loss was never a big struggle for me. My body was able to tolerate a lot of “abuse” in many different forms – too much alcohol, too much sugar, not enough sleep, excessive exercise and then periods of no exercise at all, too much food, not enough food…my body would just keep moving along.
Now that I am in my late thirties, and have two kids, my body is starting to stand up for itself. I don’t get away with as much.
I have developed some good habits when it comes to self-care. Here are a few of them:
Getting Enough Sleep
I used to function fine on 5 hours of sleep. In fact, when I had my first child, I rarely felt like I was experiencing the sleep deprivation new parents talk about. But this is no longer the case. If I don’t get 7 or 8 hours of sleep I am irritable and I feel like no amount of food fulfills my hunger. Not a fun way to go through the day. Plus, the lack of sleep adds an element of stress I don’t need because I struggle to get things done.
Sleep is now a high priority for me. I often have to fight the desire to stay up late and watch TV or just get one more thing done – but then I remember that I can do a lot more once I am well rested.
I Think About My Future Self
I was recently introduced to the concept of your “future self” and thinking about everything that you do with future self in mind. For me, this looks like picking up the kitchen right after a meal is over, instead of waiting for my future self to do it. It’s really kind of rude to leave such a mess to my future self.
You can apply the “future self” concept to everything you do. When you make a decision, think about how it will impact your future self, and try to treat your future self with the utmost kindness.
A great question to ask in regards to food is, “is this food good for my future self?”
Eliminating Distractions So I Can Be More Present
How distracted are you throughout your day by your cellphone? Does it really feel good to have all those interruptions? When I see alerts come up on my phone, I think that it’s just one more thing that I have to respond to or “do” – it creates a sense of urgency and adds more work and stress to my day.
I made a choice to reduce some of the distractions by putting my phone on Do Not Disturb from 9:30 pm until 7 am. Any alerts or calls that come in will be silenced so I can’t hear them.
I also changed the alerts that come through on text messages. I no longer see a preview of what the message is. I just see the name of the person who text me. And with Facebook, I turned off all the alerts on my phone. Once I open up Facebook, I am able to see all the notifications, but I no longer look at my phone and see a long list of notifications.
These simple ways that I redesigned my phone help to eliminate distraction, therefore allowing me to concentrate better and be more present.
How I Choose to Eat
I think the biggest thing I have learned over the last year is that my body is becoming less tolerant of certain types of food and ingredients. If I eat past a certain point at night, I have digestive problems in the morning. When I eat too much sugar, I crave more sugar and I feel really lethargic.
Same goes for alcohol. Before I have a drink, I think about what I want to accomplish that day or night. If I don’t want to feel drowsy and tipsy, I choose not to have the drink.
Monitoring My Thoughts
I no longer berate myself and get down on myself for the choices I make with food. Once I saw what results this thinking had on me and how unhelpful it was, I started taking a more kind and neautral approach. This helped eliminate a lot of the drama that was so damaging to my relationship with food.
I also no longer engage in unhelpful comments in my mind in regards to my weight and body appearance. Instead, I focus on what my body can do and all that it has done.
If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you are sabotaging your happiness. True happiness starts with being in alignment with what your mind, body, and soul want. Making self-care a priority is the best way to make this happen.