It is still early in the new year. Maybe you have made and broken your New Year’s Resolutions already. But, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is self-care. So, I encourage you to at least make a promise to yourself – to love, nurture and take care of yourself. We all have a million things to do and we often shuffle our own needs to the bottom of that never-ending list because we feel that we must care for others first – otherwise we would seem selfish. But, here is the reality: self-care is not selfish – in fact you are being selfish if you don’t put yourself first.
Self-care is not selfish
Think about it…if you don’t put gasoline in the car, it stops running and you can’t go anywhere. If you don’t restock the fridge, there is no food to eat. If you don’t make tea in the teapot, then you can’t pour it into your cup to drink it. Sometimes you need to reboot the computer to get it to work properly. Everything needs to be be replenished and refreshed to keep working – and you, my friend, are no different. If you don’t look after yourself and recharge your batteries, then you become tired, weary, irritable, burned out and maybe even sick. Then what happens to all those loved one you care for?
Your health and well-being is important – just as important, or one might argue, even more important than that of your family. All you do for your family disappears if you don’t care for you and you get sick or fall apart. When you feel your best, you are more patient, kind, loving and generous. And that is better for everyone, especially you! Remember, you need to refill your cup, refuel, re-energize. Here are some key areas to focus on:
There can be lots of conflicting information about food – so many marketing strategies, trends and fads. Let’s keep it simple: view food as nourishment -we need the nutrients to fuel and replenish our bodies. View food as more than its calorie content or whether it fits into some trend. Choose foods that meet your personal health needs. Your body will give you all kinds of signals about how happy it is with your food choices.
If you are feeling tired, run down, have aches, pains, gas or bloating, these are all messages from your body that something needs attention. Focus on NOURISHING your body with food. Choose fresh, whole foods over packaged. Be mindful about your choices and eating – plan snacks so you don’t get caught hungry with limited choices. Before eating, pause, and ask yourself how that food choice will nourish your body and build you up.
Did you know that rushing, stress and worry can shut down the digestive process? Drinking cold water with, right before or right after meals can also shut down the digestive process. So, try to slow down and take time to savour your nutritious meal or snack. And, yes, drink plenty of water, just away from meals. Opt for sipping on room temperature water or herbal tea with your meals. Eating food in smaller quantities is easier on your digestive system – so try eating 5 or 6 smaller portions per day. This can also help keep your blood sugar levels in check – a big influencer on your energy levels!
Bloating indicates your digestive system needs some support. Pay attention since a less than optimal digestive system can weaken your immune system, so you will get sick more often. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat – keeping a food journal can be helpful in pinpointing problem foods. For more digestive tips, head over to Better Digestion in 8 Simple Steps.
Your body was made to move and we don’t do enough of it! Stretching, cardio, and weight-bearing exercise are all important. I know that gym memberships are a big seller this time of year. But you don’t have to go that route. Start your day with pilates or yoga, take the dog for a walk or jump on your elliptical trainer. Buy some free weights at home. Maybe hire a few sessions with a personal trainer to help you develop an exercise routine that works for you. The key is to move EVERYDAY and enjoy the benefits: better focus, improved mood, stress reduction, better digestion and elimination.
Make Time for YOU
Make time for you – relax, recharge, re-energize, reflect, set goals. When enthusiasm wanes and energy drops it is a sign that you haven’t taken time for yourself. Make a conscious effort to include it in your daily/weekly routine. Get up 30 minutes before everyone else to get in your time/combine it with exercise. Schedule quiet time for yourself each evening. This may mean you have to get really good at setting your own personal space and boundaries. Aim daily to take 20 minutes to yourself to engage in a mindful activity like: tai chi, meditation, nap, enjoying a cup of tea, soaking in the bath, journaling, listening to music, breathing. Relax, gather your thoughts, dream, reflect and breath. Your whole week will go better. And, when you can, schedule a massage, or time out with friends, or even a little retail therapy. Enjoy yourself!