Self care isn’t something a lot of people talk about. The majority of society may see it as selfish, however it is one of the most important things you can do for your health, which also improves the health of others.
Our body, mind, and spirit are all aspects of our being that need to be nourished. Below are some ideas of how to care for yourself more intentionally. Think of ways in your life where you need some extra care in these areas, and make it a goal to pay more attention and feel more in tune with your body.
Healthy Eating: Nourish your body with whole, unprocessed foods. Try to ‘eat a rainbow’ every day by enjoying a good variety of fruits and vegetables. Slow down and chew your food- it aids in digestion, promoting stronger teeth, increasing the absorption of nutrients, maintaining a healthy weight, and you’ll savor your meal more!
Physical Activity: Try walking, running, yoga, biking, or a community class. Listen to your body and find what you enjoy most.
Breathing: Breathing is something our body automatically does to survive, yet all too often, we forget to tune into our breath and realize the power that it holds. One of my teachers, Dr. Andrew Weil, described it as “one of the most helpful things you can do for your health”. He says your breath creates a connection between the conscious and unconscious mind. Dr. Weil recommends practicing this particular breathing exercise every day: Begin in a comfortable position. Let all of the air out of your lungs with pursed lips. With your tongue on the roof of your mouth, breathe in through your nose with your mouth closed for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 7. Then exhale through pursed lips for a count of 8. Repeat this for 4 breath cycles (Never more than this at one time for the first month, but after you can increase to up to 8 breath cycles as a time.) You should practice this twice a day to feel the full effects. You can practice this exercise any time; it is particularly helpful when you are feeling stressed or anxious, having a craving, or trying to fall asleep.
Take Baths: Taking time to relax and unwind in warm water is very soothing to the body, mind, and spirit. Sylvia Plath once said, “I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath, but I can’t think of one.” She was right! Try adding 2 cups of Epsom salt to a hot bath and soak for at least 15 minutes. It can help relieve pain and muscle cramps, relax the body, and eliminate toxins from the body, which is a great addition to an elimination diet or any other cleanse.
Dry Brushing: Dry brushing, or running a natural fiber brush along your skin in the direction of your heart, is exfoliating and really great for your lymphatic system. It also puts you in touch with your body.-you’re spending time on yourself, paying close attention to every part of your body, which really helps you tune in. Check out this article for more information! I’m looking forward to trying dry brushing this week!
Abdominal Self Massage: Massaging your belly helps you tune into a really important part of your body that may not get enough attention. It can help increase bladder tolerance, improve digestion, dislodge waste and move it through the body, and decrease stomach pain. Check out this article for a how-to on abdominal massage.
Journal: There’s something about putting pencil to paper; it helps our mind connect with our heart. It also helps you become more aware of your feelings and clarify your thoughts. Give it a try. Put down your phone, grab a notebook and a pencil, and write!
Prayer: Spending time meditating or praying is very beneficial in caring for yourself. Prayer can elicit a relaxation response, which helps lower stress levels. It is a helpful reminder to express your gratitude, compassion, or forgiveness and can help you release control of a situation that you might unhealthily be holding onto. Prayer also connects your mind, body, and spirit which promotes healing. Check out this article on why and how prayer affects your health. Try spending time in prayer every day for two weeks, and see what you learn.