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Self-Care is Self-Protection not Self-ish

There seems to be a lot of people right now saying that self-care is not selfish, but when selfishness is defined in the dictionary as placing one’s own well-being and interests above the well-being or interests of others, I have to question that statement.

The reason for this is if we plan to care and positively impact our colleagues, customers, and/or community, we must firstly prioritise our own health and wellbeing.

If we are to be resilient enough to deal with these stressful and uncertain times, self-care actually becomes a self-protection strategy, not a selfish act.

Unfortunately though, self-care has gotten itself a bad name over the years and many people believe that it is all about meditating in the lotus position and singing ‘kum-ba-yah’ with feathers in our hair … but this is not the case.

Self-care comes in various shapes and sizes, and sometimes we need more of one than we do of another, but the reality is that to be able to work and live at our fullest potential, we need to consider each type:

1. Physical Self-care

Taking care of our body is certainly an important component of any self-care strategy. How often we move and how we nourish ourselves has a direct effect on our ability to focus, be kind, feel energised and show optimism.

Some examples are:

  • Incorporate walking meetings into your day
  • Keep a water bottle on your desk
  • Start your day with healthy food (from our planet rather than a packet)
  • Take the dog for a walk (or offer to help walk someone else’s dog if you don’t
    have one)
  • Crank up the music in your lounge room and get your groove on

2. Emotional Self-care

Being aware of our thoughts and feelings is a great way to start caring about our emotional wellbeing. When we ignore them, this is when ill-health begins but when we are in tune with what is really going on inside our head and heart, then we can make adjustments to our lives when the going gets tough.

Some examples are:

  • End your workday with thinking about what went well
  • Learn to be more present through mindfulness or meditation
  • Express yourself through creative hobbies such as painting, writing, drawing
  • Write down your feelings and thoughts in a notebook
  • Create boundaries around saying “yes” to too many people or projects

3. Intellectual Self-care

These are activities that feed our brains. They can challenge us, help us to think outside the square and improve our ability to contribute to our world.

Some examples are:

  • Learning a new language
  • Reading a book
  • Completing a puzzle or crossword
  • Taking a short course
  • Watching a documentary

4. Social Self-care

As humans we crave to be connected to other humans who bring a smile to our faces, warmth to our hearts and some wisdom to our brains. Seeking out people in our lives who we can trust in and share with is an important component of self-care.

Some examples are:

  • Do an audit of the people in your life – professionally and personally. Only give your time to those who make you feel optimistic and energised
  • Make more effort to catchup with family members in person or via phone (liking their facebook posts is not really enough!!)
  • Reconnect with someone special who you have lost contact with
  • Join a local class or club e.g. yoga, tennis, toastmasters, singing
  • Diarise at least once a quarter to catchup with your favourite friends

5. Spiritual Self-care

Finding ways to nourish our soul and think about the bigger picture can help us to feel purposeful and bring meaning to our lives. This might be religion, mother nature or a particular way of living (e.g being a vegan), but whatever it is it helps us to have a greater understanding of life beyond ourselves.

Some examples are:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Immersing yourself in the ocean
  • Volunteering for a cause you believe in
  • Praying to a higher being
  • Creating rituals that bring certainty and nurturing to your life

6. Financial Self-care

Having our basic financial needs met means we aren’t in a continual state of stress and it opens up our ability to start including self-care into our lives. When we are always worried about money, this can really have a detrimental effect on our physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual wellbeing.

Some examples are:

  • Know your numbers – check your accounts regularly
  • Create a budget and stick to it
  • Put money aside for Ron – ‘later on’ – even if it is only $1 a day
  • Educate yourself – there are thousands of free podcasts
  • Earn extra dollars via platforms such as Airtasker

We all owe it to ourselves to get selfish about our self-care in this world that can throw challenges and curveballs and cannonballs at us when we least expect them.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula for it. We will all benefit differently from each type of self-care. The most important part is to choose what works for us individually and start doing it habitually. Today.

When we are proactive about putting ourselves first, then we become better colleagues,
better customers, and/or better community members. That’s a win:win for everyone.

A workshop about self-care might be what your team needs right now. I’d love to chat with you about what challenges your colleagues are experiencing and how I can tailor a program for them – either in person or through the platform of your choice.

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