Self-Care For the Real World
Self-care — sure, it would be nice to get weekly manicures and monthly spa appointments, and journal for an hour a day and eat only perfect food. But who has the time?
“The way we like to define self-care is learning to look after your own self as you would a child or a very dear friend — with love, kindness and patience,” writes celebrity yoga teacher Nadia Narain and her sister, raw foodie Katia Narain Phillips, in their book, Self-Care for the Real World.
When you feel you’re the best self you can be, you’ll have more to give and contribute to the world, the authors say. “When we feel good about ourselves we do better, kinder things for ourselves and for others, and we naturally let the good things in our lives grow.”
Here are five to ways to nurture yourself. And don’t worry, it’s not selfish.
1. Figure Out What You Need
Self-care is different for everyone. The trick is figuring out the difference between what you want — chocolate or an iPhone — and what you need, like a good night’s sleep or a new job. When you’re reaching toward something, stop and ask yourself if it’s nurturing you, or reflecting your style.
Different needs come into play at different stages and times of life. Sometimes, during hardships, you’ll need to be gentle with yourself. But when you’re flourishing you may need more challenges — so listen to your body, your heart, your mind, to figure that out.
2. Love Yourself
This may sound simple, but many people have absorbed lessons that say otherwise. “Self-love, and self-care in love, are a big deal; they’re the type of love you can always be sure will be there for you, no matter what,” the authors write, noting that self-love comes before romantic love. “Don’t practice self-care to fix yourself, do it out of great love and respect for the person you are and the body you live in,” they say.
When you believe there’s nothing wrong with you, you like who you are, and it shows.
3. Make a List, or Two
Make a list of the things that make you feel bad, like staying up all night binge-watching a show and eating that half a pizza. Then make another list of things that make you feel better, like finishing a book and nodding off to sleep early. List things you love about yourself and your body.
“Next time you do something to care for your body, whether it’s exercise or rest, a massage or a nice long bath, notice how you feel afterwards,” the authors write. Maybe you will feel just a little bit kinder toward yourself, and more likely to see the good around you.
4. Feed Yourself
Sure, we all eat. The key lies in figuring out how to feed yourself in a kind and caring way.
“If you do one single thing for yourself from this book, take some time to cook a delicious meal that makes you feel good and nourishes your body,” the authors write. Learn one new recipe a week, or even a month, and after a year year, you’ll have a whole new repertoire. Eating healthy goes back to the idea of differentiating between what you want, and what you need. You may think you want a chocolate bar, but your body might need more milk and calcium.
“Eating well helps you stay mentally well.”
5. Turn Bedtime into a Treat
“Sleep is such a healer for your whole system; sometimes if you’re struggling with a problem or an emotion you just need to sleep it off,” the book notes.
Going to bed early should be viewed as a reward. Turn bedtime into a treat: make your bed in the morning, so it’s an inviting place to be. Take a bath or shower before bedtime for bonus self-care. Turn the lights low. Put your screens away.
Create a romantic setting — candles, aromatherapy, fancy linens — but this time it’s for yourself, the ultimate in self-care. For more ideas to improve your bedtime habits, try the free Sleep30 Challenge at www.mysleep30.com/challenge.
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