Are you taking care of yourself? Proper self-care makes it possible to function effectively in everything you do, whether at work, home, traveling, or relaxing. It’s hard to keep up with life’s challenges if you fail here, much less take care of anyone or anything else.
If you listen, your body will tell you what it needs. It reacts to past or present experiences, and everything around you is an influencer. The trick here is to listen actively. What is your body saying to you? Perhaps it is telling you that:
- It is tired.
- It hurts.
- It feels energetic.
- It is thankful.
Don’t ignore the message that your body is telling you. Honor yourself by responding appropriately. How? Think of the following to help you care for yourself with honor:
- If it’s tired, rest, stop pushing.
- If it hurts, try to get to the source of your pain and see if you can do anything to relieve it.
- Recognize the times that you are full of energy. What caused this, and can you replicate it?
- If you feel thankful, let it flow into every aspect of your life.
Ways to Self Care
Many of us like to push through pain and fatigue and hope they stop bothering us. Do you? Is it hard for you to relax? Trust me, I can relate. I do the best job of relaxing when I get away from my daily work and routine. Can you say “vacation?”
Here are a few suggestions for everyday self-care that you will find helpful:
- Breathe deeply. Take in the good and exhale the bad. Do this slowly and deliberately as you fill your lungs as much as you can and empty them all the way.
- Change your self-talk from negative to positive. For example, instead of “I will never be able to get this done,” say “I will accomplish my goal.”
- Remind yourself of the things for which you are thankful.
- Get it out on paper where you can see it: write or journal your thoughts.
- Listen to music that you find uplifting.
- For aches and pains, use heat or cold therapy.
- Watch something funny and laugh hysterically. There is healing in laughter. It has been called “the best medicine.”
Find out what works best for you. When you honor your body by giving it what it needs, it responds in kind. Is all of this perfect? No. Is it better? Yes.
The quality and quantity of your sleep are important, as this is when your body best heals itself. During deep sleep, your cells repair and rebuild, and hormones are secreted to promote bone and muscle growth. Your body also uses deep sleep to strengthen your immunity so you can fight off illness and infection. How God so wonderfully crafted our bodies!
It may seem contraindicative, but exercise helps everything mentioned in this article. To be effective, your workout plan needs to be a priority, and it must be something that you enjoy.
An excellent plan of life-giving physical practice consists of these five parts:
- Strength training (with weights, machines, or bodyweight)
- Stretching of all your major muscle groups—a neglected area of fitness
- Cardio that keeps your heart rate at the prescribed level for your age and ability for no less than 15 minutes at a time
- Mindful core and abdominal work like that exemplified in Pilates
Yes, rest is a component of fitness. Rest makes it all possible.
It’s necessary you know your fitness level and work there until you are strong enough to go to the next level. Performing any exercise with proper form will increase strength, no matter how small the movement. You must never sacrifice form to obtain “more”: a heavier weight, a deeper stretch, doing more cardio than necessary, etc. Doing so will defeat your purpose.
Don’t do the same workout every day.
Your body adapts very quickly and settles in as it figures out how to avoid overworking. For maximum benefit, it’s best to surprise it every time you work out. Your body is extremely good at adapting to whatever it’s asked to do, so challenge it with constant variety.
Stretch the muscles that you have compacted.
I call it the “flip side of strength training.” Any contraction of a muscle needs to be followed by a stretch. This often neglected fitness area feels so good!
Limit strength training to every other day.
This is because while you are doing strength training, you are tearing your muscles. They need that day in between because the resting time is when they build and create new muscle fibers.
Cardio is vital because it strengthens your heart and lungs.
Don’t be bored with cardio but try to find a fun way to include it. One of my friends accomplishes this by playing with her grandkids.
To the core we go, where, ideally, all movement originates.
It would be best to strengthen your pelvic floor and all the tiny muscles around your hips and spine. Again, Pilates is the best way that I have found to attain core strength.
So, rejoice at what a marvelous creature you are. Believe that you can function effectively in everything you do. You deserve every bit of honor that you can give to your body, soul, and spirit.
Donna Martelli, formerly a professional dancer with the Harkness Ballet of New York, served on the dance faculty at Butler University, Indianapolis, and is now also a certified personal trainer, and certified Pilates instructor in Indianapolis, IN. She conducts classes, seminars, and workshops in the U.S. and Europe. She is the author of “When God Says Drop It” and “Why the Dance,” available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.