"Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day
One of the most important lesson I’ve ever learned reflects the fullness of our proverbial cup.And no, I am not talking about “half glass full or half glass empty” type of cup lesson, but in the context of self-care.
Each action we take that nourishes ourselves and meets our own needs pours a little, let’s say love, into our cup. It is so important to fill up your own cup–and keep it full–or you will be unable to pour into others’ cups and cope with life’s demands. In other words, you cannot give and keep giving to others if your cup is constantly empty.
I truly believe that one of the most difficult things we must learn as adults is how to fully and compassionately take care of ourselves. Self-care is something I see myself, my clients, family and friends struggle with on a daily basis. I am not only talking about physical self-care, such as eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Those are extremely important aspects of self-care, but I am also referring to taking care of ourselves emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Nourishing these four self-care kingdoms on a daily basis is what will help you fill your cup and continue to fill it. What do you need to fill your cup? Try to pick one idea from each of the 4 self-care kingdoms and practice it on a daily basis. (Try to make areas with a * non-negotiable.)
Physical Self-Care: Are you nourishing yourself physically?
To make sure you eat a healthy amount, try eating 3 regular meals, or 4 to 5 smaller meals a day (being mindful of portion size) with a variety of foods including lean meats (fish, chicken), fresh produce (vegetables and fruits), whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Limit highly processed foods, added sugars, refined grains, trans fats, and processed meats. “Food is the most over-used anti-anxiety drug in America, and Exercise is the most potent and underutilized antidepressant.” – Bill Phillips
Watch out for Caffeine and Alcohol – they can increase anxiety, increase depression, disrupt sleep, increase fatigue, and can cause dependence (addiction). As a general rule of thumb, men should consume 128 ounces of water daily, and women should consume 88 ounces, but this may also depend on your activity level, your environment, etc.
*Get Enough Sleep
Notice your sleep habits and schedule, including if you struggle with insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome. All of this affects sleep, which is our body and mind’s way to re-charge!
The average amount of sleep needed for Young adults (18 to 25 years) and Adults (26 to 64 years) is 7 to 9 hours of sleep.“Deterioration in sleep follows general health to a closer degree than it does true chronological age,” says Robert Simpson, MD, assistant professor in the University of Utah’s division of pulmonary medicine and a sleep medicine specialist. “If we track people over time and ask them, ‘How’s your sleep?’ the degree to which it deteriorates or improves over time tends to mirror their overall health. That’s particularly true of heart conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.”
*Get Regular Amounts of Exercise
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines. Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Even just walking for 30 minutes 5 times a week will give you the amount you need to see and feel the health benefits.
*Practice Good Hygiene
It may seem obvious, but sometimes these things can get away from us. Make sure you bathe regularly, wash you hair, trim your nails, and even wash your clothes, bedding, and home on a regular basis to feel clean, confident, and cozy.
“For most people, good hygiene is so much a part of their daily routines that they think little about it. They bathe, they brush their teeth, visit the dentist and doctor for regular checkups, and wash their hands when preparing or eating food and handling unsanitary items. To keep those you care about healthy and safe, help them learn, and be sure that they are practicing, good personal hygiene.”
Want to really boost your self esteem? Pamper yourself! Get your hair or nails done, get a massage, or whatever will have you feeling extra special and cared for!
Emotional Self-Care: Are you getting your emotional needs met?
*Build a "Good Vibe" Tribe
It’s so important to build a positive vibe tribe around you! Build and foster connections with those most important to you, who are supportive, caring, and don’t bring you down. It might be time to 86 those who are critical, negative, bad influences, and don’t support you. Remember to ask for what you need: whether it’s a hug or for someone to just listen. No one is a mind reader!
*Hobbies you love!
Remember it’s important to nourish and express yourself emotionally when we don’t always have other people around. You can do this through hobbies or passions like writing, art, music, cooking, gardening; or soothing yourself by practicing yoga, mindfulness, deep breathing, going for a walk, or journaling. Remember that being compassionate and understanding towards yourself, and giving yourself credit are key parts to taking care of yourself emotionally!
*Tune Into Your Emotions
Being able to identify your emotions and notice how they feel in your body without judgement or trying to change them. Just sitting and being present with your emotions, with compassion and love, can do wonders for your health and self-esteem!
Remember your emotions are NOT permanent. They will eventually pass. Our primary emotions include: Fear (anxiety), Sadness, Hurt, Anger, Shame, Disgust, Peace, Love, and Joy.
We do not have ‘control’ over our emotions, but we are able to regulate and manage them so that we do not react from them and can have choice in how we respond to them. You can practice this through deep breathing, accepting your emotions, presently sitting with them until they pass, relaxation, bubble baths, going for a walk, changing your thoughts and mindset. This takes practice!
*Express Your Emotions
Remember this effects you not only emotionally, but physically, mentally, and spiritually as well. Yell it out, dance it out, punch a pillow, do whatever you need to do to get the negative energy out of your body physically without harming yourself or others.
Mental Self-Care: Are you stimulating and challenging yourself enough mentally?
Reading, writing, learning, cooking, problem-solving, intellectual conversations, puzzles or games such as scrabble, crosswords, sudoku, or chess are great ways to challenge yourself, develop your brain, and grow!
Spiritual Self-Care: Do you have a spiritual connection in your life?
Having a strong foundation in something larger than ourselves and humanity is extremely important. This category is extremely subjective, and you can get this nourishment from your own personal relationship with your higher power or even connecting with Nature and the Earth.
*Give back to others
Getting outside of yourself through volunteering, helping others, giving back to your community, etc.
*Find Purpose and Meaning
Your reason for being here on this Earth. Remember that this can change over time and does not always stay the same.
Practicing gratitude is an important daily practice to remind ourselves of what we are thankful for and focusing on what we do have instead of don’t.
**Meditation or mindfulness
Whatever you prefer to call it, gets double stars, because it hits all four areas of self-care. Mindfulness is the practice of being truly present in the moment, engaging all your senses, just noticing with no judgement or trying to change or struggle against the moment.
“Self-Care is not selfish or self-indulgent. We cannot nurture others from a dry well. We need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our surplus, our abundance.” -Jennifer Louden
If you are nourishing yourself enough in all four of these self-care kingdoms daily, it is much easier to cope with life’s overwhelming and sometimes baffling experiences and stressors.
It is then, and only then, that you can start to notice and create meaningful change in yourself and life. Self-care if also one of the best ways to increase your self-esteem! To “esteem” yourself means you value yourself, and what better way to show you value yourself then taking care of yourself!?