If my many years of wellness work have proven anything, it’s this: that a successful self care practice supports the body, mind, heart and spirit. These are the four elements of whole-person wellness.
1. Physical exertion. Any regular reader of my blog will know how firmly I believe that the body holds valuable information about emotional, mental and spiritual health. Disruption in those aspects of life manifest as restrictions to the body: tense muscles, headaches, upset stomachs, and so on. The physical component of your self care practice will strengthen your body, and reverse the damage caused by stress.
For me, massage, pilates and yoga are the winning combination. They’re a perfect fit for my preferences and my needs, so much so that I made a career out of massage therapy and yoga instruction. Kundalini Yoga is the yoga I practice primarily in my personal life, and I love heated yoga as a complement.
I feel confident in saying that yoga and massage can benefit anyone. However, the most important part of developing self care is to find what feels right for you. Running, swimming, horseback riding and rowing are popular choices too. Lean into physical activities that light you up, that feel fun, that remind you of being a kid again and do them as often as possible.
2. Emotional exploration. The whole point of self care is to get you back in touch with yourself. It’s far too easy to ignore that little voice inside of you, or to shove away your deepest impulses in favor of taking care of others or just making life more convenient.
Beginning a self care practice will invite your repressed feelings to the surface, no matter what. There will probably be uncomfortable moments for you. The goal is to receive the information, process it, and let it go. Journaling and/or any creative activity can help nurture you to express your inner monologue. Additionally, therapy can be very helpful in getting some perspective on your feelings, and figuring out the patterns that are holding you back.
3. Stillness of mind. When I started to prioritize meditation in my life, everything shifted. What seemed impossible before I began a meditation practice now seemed within my reach. I am constantly amazed by the positivity it brings to me, and to my clients. Meditation is free, accessible anytime and requires just a small commitment each day. When you commit to it, life miraculously opens up in the most extraordinary ways. Meditation takes nothing away from you, and gives back to you abundantly.
I recommend that beginners commit themselves to 3 minutes of meditation per day for 40 days in a row. Intermediate meditators can commit to 90 days, and long-term meditators can commit to 120. You can learn more about starting a meditation practice on my Facebook page.
4. Spiritual nourishment. Much like choosing an exercise routine, your spiritual nourishment should be tailored to your interests and tastes. The goal is to identify activities, places, relationships and rituals that feed your soul.
For me, my spirit is replenished by walks in the forest and on the beach, playtime with my dogs, driving with my husband and talking to my children. What brings a sense of peace into your life? Reading, baking, photography, talking to a relative, volunteering?
If you have been separated from that sense of joy for a long time, it might feel intimidating to try to find it again. Let the other elements of your self care practice do their work, and sooner or later your spirit will begin to awaken. You’ll know you’ve found your nourishing activity when you get a feeling like butterflies in your belly, or your mind feels more alive, or overall you have more energy and pep in your step. Keep trying new things, and you’ll find your way to your passion.
It’s occurred to me, the more I give to myself, the more I have available for others.