Self-Care: 3 habits that saved my life.
Updated: Apr 12, 2019
You may have heard people say things like, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” or “You have to nourish to flourish” or something along those lines. The truth is, at least for me, that I must make the time to take care of myself before taking care of others. How are you going to show up and be your “best self” if you aren’t at your best physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, professionally, financially, or even environmentally?
There have been many moments in my life that I have put things or others before myself. I am a people pleaser, and so, naturally, I find myself showing up for others and wanting to help in any way possible. Whether that is for my children, my family, loved ones, friends, or for the thousands of people, I serve every year. I show up when needed. It feels good. It brings me joy to help people. While my intentions are good, like many others, I have learned the hard way that this isn’t always the best approach. Often, when we don’t take care of ourselves, it can put the quality of our life at risk.
Recently, I asked people, “What new habit, routine, or behavior has made a positive difference in your life?” I received over 100 hundred answers, ranging from quitting smoking to taking time to color. People shared their experiences of how even the smallest changes have made such a difference in their lives. Things like taking time to reflect, journal, unplug, plan, read, seek guidance from mentors, and finding space to be creative.
The most popular answers from my Facebook feed were:
Working out - or some type of physical activity like taking a walk or stretching.
Faith – the practice of prayer was a typical example, but this can mean many different things to different people.
Meditation – guided, unguided, and various mindfulness techniques like deep breathing.
Community – often referring to the strength of one’s “tribe.” Whether that be family, friends, mentors, or groups; relationships matter.
Nutrition – diet, healthy eating habits, daily intake, and heavy emphasis on what we are putting into our bodies that helps us thrive long-term.
Interestingly enough, if you were to combine mindset with mindfulness and meditation, that would be the most common answer. Why we don’t emphasize the importance of taking care of our brains more often is beyond me; besides social stigma and all that shit.
Self-care often brings up many conversations around our daily actions, practices, disciplines, routines, healthy and unhealthy habits, self-love, and yes, our mental health. Self-care is unselfish and not just another thing on our “to-do” lists. If you have been following me for a little while, then you may remember me writing a piece called Resolve to Take Better Care of Yourself: 4 Ideas That Will Help Change Your Life. I wrote that article and published it on the first day of the new year. At the time, it was my most popular article. People said they enjoyed its vulnerability. I discussed how 2017 was one of my most challenging years. I talked about thoughts of suicide. I wrote about how it was still one of my best years yet. I originally wrote the article for me because I wanted to capture what truly helped me get through such a challenging time and use it to move forward throughout my life. I shared that when we dare to change ourselves, be authentic, find support, and continue to grow, we learn to do more than exist; we learn to live. It seemed to encourage a lot of people.
So here I am, just over a year later sharing these new perspectives I have gained since, in hopes that it can help others in the same way.
What you should know is that the past twelve months have brought on some of my biggest life challenges that I have ever been through, yet, I feel stronger and more capable than ever. Numerous family members have passed away, including my father due to alcoholism. My family has suffered in various ways, including my children, loved ones, friends, and people I work with. All this together hasn’t been easy, but many of us have discovered ways to find strength from the struggles we’ve endured. Here are three habits that continue to help me grow and, without a doubt, have helped save my life.
Self-care: when we value ourselves is when we can take better care of my mind, body, and spirit.
Gratitude: when we take time to reflect and practice gratitude, we can appreciate what we already have; helping us to be more compassionate, kind, and feel more alive.
Community: your tribe is your everything. When we honor all voices and work to bring people together from all walks of life, without shame or judgment, we can experience the greatest joys.
While you don’t have to excel in all these areas at the same time, there are significant benefits to working on these simultaneously or on individual levels. Progress over perfection, right? Especially since there is no such thing as perfection.
Wherever you are on your journey, please know that the decisions you make matter. There are a lot of unhealthy choices that we can make. For example, some people smoke and drink to cope with the pain in their lives; I did for over 12 years of my life. What I have seen, is that when people can’t overcome the challenges that they face they try to escape, self-medicate, through some other means. Sex, drugs, work, materialism, perfectionism, shitty values, you name it. Anything in excess can damage your life; sometimes even destroy it.
So, if you are out there and you know something needs to change, whatever it is, what are you waiting for? If you don’t know where to start, here is some simple advice that I received that made a significant impact on my life: focus on one thing at a time.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with everything all at once. It’s easier to accomplish small obtainable goals, one day at a time. Take something you want to change, like binging too much on Netflix for example, and replace that activity with something healthier, like getting some exercise. You can do it in small increments. Maybe, to start, you’re replacing an unhealthy behavior for just 15 minutes a day, and eventually, it turns into more time and perhaps becomes a whole day of healthier choices. The choice is yours but don’t start tomorrow. Start today.
Thank you for your continued feedback and support. Make sure you take a second to subscribe to this new blog. I will be dropping new insights, ideas, and experiences from the road over the next several weeks. Stay tuned!