“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political welfare.” – Audre Lorde
About a month ago I had an incident that made me realize I need to focus more energy on my well-being and prioritize practicing self-care. I believe that in order to be my best self (which means doing my best for others too) there are certain steps I should take to ensure my emotional, mental, and physical health and happiness, and you should too!
1. Understand the importance of your health and wellbeing.
As I get older, I realize that when my body and mind are out of whack, everything’s out of whack. I know it’s a common phrase to hear, but it’s true: when it comes to our mental and physical health, everything is connected. In order to do my best as a student, daughter, friend, sister, and partner, I have to first do what’s best for my body and mind.
2. You must find time for rest and relaxation.
In this day and age (thanks, in part, to the demands of the economy) nearly everyone is overworked and exhausted. Sometimes I’m so busy that I actually feel guilty when I have the chance to relax, but I’ve been working to see things differently. In order to truly be productive and efficient when we’re working, we also need time to ourselves, and just as importantly, time to have fun!
3. Stay active
This is probably the most difficult thing for me, since my work as a student requires a lot of sitting and not much moving around. Being active is essential for keeping our bodies healthy, and it’s also a great way to de-stress. If you have a particularly sedentary day, go for a walk or even a quick bike ride. Just get up and do something! In addition to burning a few calories, being active helps you to clear your mind and appreciate your body for all of the amazing things it does every second of every day. It’s also an excellent excuse to spend some time outdoors, which for me, is one of the most relaxing things to do on a day off.
4. Take note of what your body is telling you
Pay attention to your health. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a medical professional. And the saying is true, you are what you eat – so if you’re feeling sluggish, start making changes to your diet and lifestyle!
I’m a strong supporter of following a plant-based diet (going vegan has seriously improved every aspect of my health and happiness), so I recommend checking out The Happy Vegan: A Guide to Living a Long, Healthy, and Successful Life, by Russell Simmons, if that’s something that interests you.
5. Make time for what makes you happy
Prioritizing ones happiness is seriously important, and if we aren’t feeling healthy, we won’t be happy. This playful list from Buzzfeed has some great pointers for improving your happiness, including meditation, which I myself plan to start doing more often!
6. Take a “mental health day” if you need one
Sometimes, you just need a day off. If you can’t take a sick day, then be sure to set aside one of your days off to relax and recharge. Remember, you deserve a break!
7. Don’t be so hard on yourself
If you’re anything like me, I’m very much a go go go, do do do kind of person, and when I’m not going or doing, I often feel guilt-ridden. The truth is, however, you can only go for so long before you run out of physical and emotional energy. In order to be a truly great go-getter, it’s actually essential that you take a break once and awhile to re-energize.
8. Remember that you can only do your best if you’re feeling your best
As you’re taking these steps to prioritize yourself, you may feel like you’re being selfish. If getting a manicure or massage once and awhile helps you feel good, doing so is not a selfish act. Life is difficult, and the best way to get through it is by working to preserve yourself. That means that no matter what, even if you’re a single mother supporting your family, you can’t let your wellbeing fall by the wayside. You owe it to yourself (and those around you who love you) to take care, recharge, have fun, and be happy. It may be difficult, but as Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political welfare.”
Take care ❤