Holiday season is a time of celebration, joy and gratitude. Most of us find ourselves giving wholly of ourselves to our families, our friends and our communities as everyone comes together to celebrate. And at times like these, it’s very easy to skimp on self-care because we are so busy. Ironically, that lack of self-care makes it more difficult for us to give to others.
Self-care is the human equivalent to regular car maintenance. We may not be machines, but our bodies are similar in that they need regular care to maintain peak performance. Without self-care, our bodies can break down which manifests itself as aches, pains, illness or just plain old exhaustion.
It is easy to think of self-care as a basic routine that includes a healthy diet, exercise, and some all-natural skincare. All three are part of self-care, but they do not constitute the whole of what self-care is. So what is self-care? Mental Health Zen contributor Christina Milian writes, "Self-care is a broad term that includes everything that you do to take care of yourself so that you stay healthy, both mentally and physically."
Milian goes on to explain that self-care is a "lifelong activity" that is rooted in a person's knowledge and understanding of how to apply self-care principles in daily life. To summarize her definition, self-care is actually a way of life. It is an attitude that says you're going to give as much attention to your own physical and mental well-being as you give others.
Basic Principles of Self-Care
There are lots of things that go into self-care. It starts with making healthy lifestyle choices that include eating right, exercising regularly, avoiding unhealthy activities, and so forth. Self-care also includes:
- avoiding alcohol and drugs
- being cautious with medications
- establishing regular 'me time'
- disconnecting from technology.
Milian recommends embarking on a self-care lifestyle with the goal of keeping things simple. The more simple our lives, the more effectively we are able to care for ourselves. Along with that, she also recommends planning ways to practice self-care. That makes good sense. After all, isn't a failure to plan really a plan to fail?
One last principle of self-care to consider is that of honesty. Milian talks about honesty in terms of making conscious choices about those self-care practices you know will work for you. But we think there is more to it than that.
Honesty in the self-care realm also means being honest about who you are as a person. It means not trying to be what others expect you to be but, rather, being content with who you are. You can only give effectively to others if you know what you have to give. Only when we’re honest about who we are will we have the ability to be honest about what self-care practices we actually need to implement.
Self-care is an important part of making yourself better able to give. So this holiday season, let’s not only plan to give of ourselves, but also to be equally good at taking care of ourselves.