Self-care is currently a hot topic. Since the Covid 19 pandemic, our consciousness about our health and well-being has heightened. We finally accepted that we are personally responsible for our health and should proactively engage in the habits and behaviours that can deliver good health. It dawned on us that regardless of our achievements and accomplishments, good health is significantly valuable. The aftermath of the pandemic led to a shift in how we live and what we should value. More importantly, it highlighted the need for intentional personal care.
Magazines and mainstream media also hopped on this conversation by providing their solutions. Self-care references became headline news in talk shows, blog posts and print media. But what is self-care? It is often narrowly used to refer to pampering ourselves like a day at the spa, a pedicure or a meal at a fancy restaurant.
In the most original form, however, self-care isn’t just temporary pleasures or moments; it is a holistic approach that focuses on better health for your overall well-being -body, mind & spirit. It would help if you enjoyed a pick-me-up occasionally. Still, it’s important to note that a long-term approach is more beneficial to you.
Here’s a quick comparison between a short-term and a long-term approach. Take stress as an example; if you experience much stress due to your workload, a pick-me-up could be a massage after a long day at work. In contrast, a long-term approach is to review your workload and delegate the areas you struggle with, leaving you more productive and less overwhelmed. The first solution offers an immediate but short-lived experience, while the second provides a long-term solution. This distinction is essential because long-term self-care requires dealing with the root cause, not the symptoms.
In a Special Health report by Harvard Health, “when it comes to self-care, habits that foster a healthy body is a good place to start”. I believe it is also the easiest because working on your body is entirely within your control. Dr Phil Stutz, a renowned therapist, also agrees with this. He created a tool called the Life force. The life force is a three-step process to regain control of one’s life, and the first step in the Life Force is taking care of your body.
There is overwhelming support for the importance of a healthy body but separating the body and mind connection is impossible. Scientists have learned over time that the mind and body and deeply linked. Our thoughts and emotions influence our health in more ways than one. “When you are stressed, anxious, or upset, your body reacts physically. For example, you might develop high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one.”
What self-care approach should we adopt, that will positively impact body, mind & spirit? While much literature agrees with the body as the first place to start, we must also acknowledge that a more holistic approach is more beneficial. When I think about self-care, habits and behaviours, come to mind. After reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I understood the significance of habits and behaviours for success and, more so, the importance of the principles from which those habits & behaviours originate. For self-care, the principle we should build our habits & behaviours out of is self-preservation.
Self-preservation is a vital concept to consider in life. It involves taking care of oneself physically and mentally to live a healthy and productive life. Understanding that self-preservation is more than taking care of your body is essential. It is also about fostering positive relationships and seeking your best interests. Self-preservation is looking out for your well-being, which is necessary for a successful life. Self-preservation also helps you to recognize and address any potential problems or issues that may arise. By taking care of yourself, you are not only protecting yourself, but you are also looking out for your future.
By adopting self-preservation as a principle, a person will adopt habits & behaviours that serve their care and avoid habits & behaviours that lead to stress or disruption. “Cut off that which may harm you. But if it is worth preserving, and is meaningful, nourish it and have no regrets. Ultimately, this is true living and love of self from within.”
With the principle of self-preservation for your body, you become committed to good nutrition, physical activity & quality sleep. By prioritising these three, you will enjoy a fit and functional body. With your mind, you become more intentional about thoughts that promote growth & prosperity rather than those that lead to defeat. With your spirit, you engage in practices that support your purpose and fuel your passions. When self-preservation forms the foundation of self-care, it forces you to elevate your life decisions consistently.
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