We all are aware of the fact that “self-care” is a phrase primarily used by women.
It’s because many men define self-care as simply pampering oneself like lighting a bunch of lavender-scented candles and taking a long, hot bubble bath. Men also tend to pay less attention to the whole of their physical, mental and emotional needs.
But really, self-care is about self-love.
“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”Lucille Ball
It’s about creating a life in which you are thriving, rather than merely surviving. And this is something that men and women need equally, even if we go about it in different ways here and there.
In my view, there are several layers of self-care. There are the things you do at the moment, as they are needed. There are the things you do habitually or perhaps ritualistically. And then there are the frameworks you build to create a nurturing, on-going atmosphere of self-care. I believe all are necessary.
That said, here are ten tips for living a life of radical self-care:
1. Keep your space clean and organized.
It is one of those self-care frameworks that was mentioned earlier. When your living space is free of dirt and clutter, it has a very soothing effect on your mind and emotions.
If you spend 15 minutes a day tidying up your space, even if you’re starting with a big mess, it’s possible to have a clean space within a week. Keeping it up will remove the worry, anxiety, and the energy wasted thinking about how messy it is. You’ll feel clearer and more creative.
It also applies to your work space, your vehicle and any space you spend a significant amount of time in.
2. No negative, deprecating self-talk.
Seriously, cut it out. Every time you call yourself stupid for making a mistake, you are laying a negatively-charged brick in the foundation of your self-worth.
Why not be kind and compassionate towards yourself?
Commit to changing your inner dialogue when you make a mistake or do something out of line with your core principles. Instead of saying, “I’m such an idiot,” try smiling and saying, “I can learn from this.” Be generous and forgiving with yourself.
You deserve to be treated nicely.
3. Meditate daily.
Spending time in meditation relaxes and refreshes your body and mind. It fosters insight, peace and well-being. It expands and deepens your perspective.
The biggest excuse you can hear from people about why they can’t meditate every day is that they don’t have time. But if you have 2 minutes, you have time to meditate.
Naturally, the more time you devote to this practice, the more profound of an effect it will have on your life. But taking 2 minutes — just a few times a day — to focus on your breath and get free from your mental chatter is better than not taking any time at all.
4. Eat well and take supplements.
The concept of “eating well” can be unconscious if you don’t put the proper thought and time into it.
I don’t buy into the idea of eating certain foods and avoiding others because they are “good” or “bad.” I find out what exactly makes them good or bad for me, and this involves being very attuned to my body. I pay attention to how I feel during and after eating something.
Do I feel energized or tired afterwards? Do I get bloated or gassy? Does my skin feel itchy or hot? How do I feel mentally and emotionally? Does combining certain foods make me think differently than eating them by themselves? These are all clues that tell me how my body is handling what I’ve put into it.
I also invest time in researching what exactly makes certain foods healthy or unhealthy. What’s so good about leafy greens, what exactly do they offer health-wise? What about fried foods, what about them is harmful, exactly? How does caffeine work, what chemical processes in the brain are involved?
This research is to find out what my body needs to function at its best, and discovering which foods meet those needs — namely fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes. And what I can’t get from food, I get with high-quality supplements. Every day I take a supplement regime consisting of omega fatty acids, lecithin, B, D and E vitamins and minerals like zinc. I also include herbs and roots that support me where I need it. Maca root is pretty fantastic stuff.
5. Spend quality time alone.
It is one of the essential aspects of self-care. The key here is making it quality time. Do something special that you enjoy or do nothing at all if that feels good in an atmosphere that feels safe and comforting.
I love spending my quality alone time with my laptop and some tunes while I write and develop ideas. Or walks where there are lots of trees — or greeting the morning sun with an iced latte on Saturday mornings.
I also really enjoy spending a little time each evening with my buffalo drum. I like to turn the lights down low, light some incense, and let the beat take me into a relaxing, meditative space.
6. Do things that make you feel alive.
Do you enjoy gardening, feeling the earth between your hands and connecting with that peacefully creative process?
Does taking photos, painting or being out in natural light you up? Make time for these things regularly, as often as you can. Revel in them.
Make them a priority for your well-being, not a luxury.
7. Create space throughout the day for breath and appreciation.
If there is one small thing you can do for yourself that will have a deeply profound effect on your outlook on life, it’s this. Many times a day, whenever it comes to mind, take a moment to pause and take a deep, cleansing breath. Clear out space in your mind. Feel a sense of appreciation for the moment.
Creating small, thankful spaces like this throughout your day does wonderful things for your perspective and your mood. Think of them as mini-meditations, little gaps in your day that allow you room to breathe and expand.
8. Honor your emotions: Feel them fully, be present with them.
We have a learned tendency to suppress and distract ourselves from our emotions. But to feel them fully sadness, anger, joy, fear to really acknowledge them and be present with them is immensely clearing and healing. Dwelling on storylines and repetitive inner dialogues is not what I’m talking about here — just letting yourself feel what naturally comes up for you when it comes up.
Feel it, process it, honor it.
9. Cheat regularly.
It is one of those tenants of self-care that keeps me sane. Eat the damn doughnut, and enjoy every moment of it! Cheating from time to time may not be significant for the body, but it’s good for the soul. And balance is what’s important here.
Part of my holistic self-care process involves eating as little wheat gluten, dairy and sugar as possible. However, I give myself permission to cheat regularly, which makes it easier and more pleasant to stay committed in the long run. It means enjoying some artisan bread, or some cheese, or a chocolate shake when the craving arises. I balance self-discipline with indulgence, and it works for me.
And last but not least.
10. Laugh at yourself, often.
The less seriously you will take yourself, the more forgiving and loving you will be towards yourself and others around you, and there are so much joy and freedom in this.
So there you have it. This is how self-care makes world more nurturing free-flowing and creative place.
What about you? I’d love to hear your self-care essentials in the comments.