“Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”
(Oxford Living Dictionary).
My friend and colleague Charles Gosset, Life Purpose Coach, recently hosted a workshop entitled Handling the Holidaze. Among his many insightful suggestions, Charles included a clear perspective on self-care which I can’t wait to apply to the holidays. To simplify the concept he broke self-care into five domains with examples.
- Physical: Sleep regularly, break for lunch, rest when you are tired, schedule exercise.
- Mental: Read for fun, plan down-time, say “no” more often, take breaks.
- Emotional: Practice gratitude, listen to music, view art, talk about feelings.
- Spiritual: Meditate, pray, spend time in nature, volunteer, attend religious services.
- Social: Spend quality time with friends, develop communication skills, participate in small groups (book clubs, support groups), go to movies, host a party, attend a concert.
I have been inspired to explore self-care more deeply since returning this summer from a life changing walk on the Camino de Santiago. Anticipating the physical demands of the pilgrimage, I developed a habit to check in regularly with my body, mind, and spirit, to see what was needed. Learning the five domains of self-care I see how they all worked together to maintain my well-being during a challenging experience. Every day I packed water, snacks, and laced up my boots with full attention. Arrival at the hostel in the afternoon began with a soothing ritual of pampering my feet, in gratitude that they had carried me the distance (physical). I always gave myself permission to nap when i was weary (mental).The day began with prayers, ending with reflection and journaling about the experience. Washing my face before bed was like tucking myself in at night (spiritual and emotional). Spending time with people of different cultures and language renewed my spirit and expanded my view of the world (social).
On the Camino self-care was neither selfish nor indulgent, it provided the health and emotional balance to complete the journey.
The real challenge is bringing self-care rituals home to my regular life in Oklahoma. Instead of regularly checking in with my body, mind, and spirit I have returned to the habit of putting self-care off until I have time. Looking ahead to the additional distractions and responsibilities that come with the holidays I am choosing to prioritize self-care.
In a culture that stresses productivity over process, taking time to cultivate the five domains of self-care is a radical concept. I’m ready for radical change in this season of my life and this time of the year.
Recommended reading on self-care (great stocking stuffers) :
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living (2016) by Shauna Niequist
When a book begins with a forward from Brene Brown you know you are in for a treat. I recently re-read this book and it was just as nice the second read through. Filled with deep reflection and honest self disclosure, Niequest opens her heart and mind for us to see the process of change. In three parts, we see how too much of even good things can lead to burn-out and misplaced priorities. The author realizes that she no longer recognizes herself in the pursuit of perfection. What she discovers is that she was giving her best self to people she didn’t even know and leaving the left overs for her loved ones. Each chapter is an essay on faith, growing insight, and hopeful change.
Girl, Wash your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be (2018) by Rachel Hollis
This is a smart, snappy book from a young woman who is wise-beyond-her-years. Hollis tackles twenty common lies women tell themselves and gives us direct advice on how to move past the lies to find truth. Like any great self-help author, Hollis is unafraid to tell us some unflattering truths about how she was stuck in destructive life patterns and then moved toward greater authenticity. Her vulnerability pays off with an authentic voice that leads the way out.
I hope this post with book suggestions helps you navigate the holidays with a greater awareness about protecting your own well-being and happiness.
Wishing you the five domains of self-care this season:
Meaningful quality time with friends, family, and YOURSELF.
What self-care practices will you bring into your life this month?