What is Self-Care?

Or how to take care of your Mind, Body, Heart and Soul.

First thing I want to tell you my friends is that I’m no specialist. I have no degree in self-care (not sure it even exists) and I haven’t studied on the topic for years. However, I’ve always been good at listening to myself and doing what feels right.

When I embarked in The Self-Care Journey (365 days, 365 acts of self-care), I decided to learn as much as I could on the topic. So far, I’ve come up with a definition of self-care I love because I think it summarizes it all:

SELF-CARE IS A POWERFUL CHOICE TO GAIN AN OPTIMIZED LEVEL OF PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH.

Let’s deconstruct this sentence together and you’ll see why it is so powerful.

  1. SELF-CARE IS ABOUT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

The words “self” and “care” are about taking care of yourself. And this is fundamental. Self-Care is not about taking care of the projection people or society have on you. It’s not about losing the 50 extra pounds you need to look like a model. It’s not about bending like a snake to do this crazy yoga posture. It’s about doing what feels right for YOU. With the body, the mind, the heart and the soul YOU have.

What is interesting about this idea is that — every one of us being unique- it makes self-care a very relative notion. The way I take care of myself is not the way you would take care of yourselves.

But there is more than that to it: self-care is different from one day to another.

Sometimes, I feel like reading a poem or feeding my soul in front of a sunset. Others, I might want to take a punchy zumba class or dance in the kitchen with my kids. What I need to take care of myself today is not what I needed yesterday nor what I will need tomorrow.

Ultimately, self-care is about listening to yourself and defining what’s right for you at the moment you’re wondering how to be good to yourselves.

2. SELF-CARE IS A POWERFUL CHOICE

The words “powerful” and “choice” are strong because they imply 2 ideas:

Self-care is a choice: Only you can decide to take care of yourselves. You can be inspired, influenced, pressured by people who love you, by people you follow on Instagram, by magazines, by your dietician, your therapist, etc… but only you can go a step further and start taking care of yourselves.

Self-care is powerful: I’ve started this journey a couple months ago and I’m already sure that it will change my life forever. Feeling better in my body, my mind, my soul, my heart makes me feel a greater alignment with who I am. On the long term, self-care allows you to build the strongest, the healthiest and thus, the happiest version of yourself. This better version or yourself is also the one that will be better with others too. Which makes self-care even more powerful because it spreads collective care.

3. SELF-CARE IS ABOUT BALANCE

Whatever the way your taking care of yourself is, you don’t want to overdo or underdo it.

Exercising is good for the body. But running two marathons a week is not sustainable nor healthy.

Taking time to meditate is good for your soul but if you spent all your free time meditating, when will you have a social life?

Having a healthy diet is good for your body. But depriving yourself from the pleasure of chocolate or ice cream can be frustrating.

Let me take an example, I love eating Raisinets (these ridiculously delicious chocolate coated raisins). I love their taste and I associate them with a great moment: when the kids are in bed and I’m free to enjoy my evening watching Netflix, reading, listening to music…

But I love Raisinets so much that I started eating a whole box every night. After a couple months, it affected the quality of my sleep, gave me heartburn and heavy stomach. Taking care of myself consisted in removing them from my evening diet for a while (see self-care act #19).

The day I bring them back, I’ll make sure to have less than a whole box and not every night. I’m sure you got my point here: the optimized level of self-care is balance.

4. SELF-CARE IMPROVES YOUR PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH.

You can be good to yourself in different ways. Taking care of yourself is about alternatively taking care of each and every part of yourself.

Taking care of your body: Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, treating yourself with a massage are aspects of physical self-care that can improve your health. But they usually have a great positive impact on your psychological and emotional health as well. When I take a yoga class for example, I know I’m being good to my body but I also feel energized, happier, calmer.

Taking care of your mind: Regularly engaging your brain in creative activities or puzzles or thinking about a topic that’s meaningful is a great way to practice psychological self-care. As an example, I try to change the route to my office and get out of my comfort zone as often as I can to keep my mind alert.

Taking care of your soul: Spiritual self-care is not necessarily religious. It’s is rather of set of activities you can engage in to be good to your soul. I love meditating, helping my friends with their projects, watching the stars and connecting to my inner self in a way that I feel deep and universal.

Taking care of your heart: This is the self-care I love the most. The one I experience when I have a good laugh with a friend, when I hug my son so hard that I could put him back in my belly, the one I feel when my heart is full and joyful after sharing chocolates with strangers (see self-care act #59). Well, you got it, emotional self-care is any self-care that warms you from the inside and allows you to love and warm others in return.

Now, if you think you should take care of yourselves and you don’t know where to start, check all the Self-Care Acts I’ve done so far. Some of them might inspire you.

Love to all and take care !


Originally published at theselfcarejourney.com on January 5, 2017.