“Calgon, take me away!”
I am old enough to remember a 1980’s commercial for Calgon Bath Powder. A woman in her professional work attire has scenes playing behind her: traffic with horns honking, her boss yelling, the baby crying, and the dog barking all at the same time. In despair, she shouts, “Calgon, take me away!” She is then magically transformed into a luxurious penthouse bathtub in peace and quiet, and not a stress line on her face.
As dramatic and dated as this commercial is, I am in admiration of the woman who has realized that she is at her limits and firmly sets her boundaries and promptly opts for a healthy dose self-care (with a little help of TV magic). The concept of selflessness is often viewed as a virtue or a badge of honor. Yet, if we fail to care for our own needs and nurture ourselves, we are less able to help and care for others. In order to give the most of yourself, you have to be your best self. In order to be your best self, honoring your needs and boundaries are a must. Although this can look different for each person, here are some examples of vital self-care most of us need.
Sleep is one of the most fundamental human health needs. Everything is worse if you are not getting sleep. Mood, coping, energy, immune function, all are impaired with insufficient or poor quality sleep. Essential sleep is a big component of a healthy mind and body. Setting your bedtime alarm to allow for eight hours of sleep and turning off all screens one hour before your scheduled bedtime are a good start. Adequate sleep can boost energy, increase memory, and improve coping with life’s stressors.
The foods we eat provide the building blocks for our cells and the metabolic processes of our body. Taking the time to prepare and consume healthy meals are a good way to care for yourself. Keeping your diet full of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and fruits, will provide a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that will provide energy and mental clarity and immune-supporting components.
Take a walk out to the park, take the dog for a walk, or a bike ride around the neighborhood. You will get some much needed sunlight and a bit of exercise. Just 15-30 minutes will help provide the vitamin D benefits of the sun and the necessary movement to optimize well-being and health. Schedule an activity in your planner if you have difficulties fitting this one in.
Unplugging, prayer, meditation, or simply reading a book can all offer benefits of some much-needed downtime in a hectic life. While the over-committed person may see these as an indulgence or a waste of time, numerous studies have demonstrated that many health benefits of these recharging activities boost mood and immune system as well as reduce stress.
Remember, you need to put on your oxygen mask first before you place the oxygen mask on someone else, as the friendly flight attendant once said. You need to care of yourself, before you can adequately care for others. You are worth the time and effort it may require. Regular self-care will reward you with many benefits.
If you are having difficulties with self-care, managing stress, or health concerns, schedule a time with me to talk.