Have you heard of self-care? Do you practice it? Do you worry that it may be a selfish or self-absorbed concept? Self-care is neither selfish nor self-absorbed. It is a practice through which we can find a well-balanced life that allows us to become grounded, find our center and live at peace in a chaotic world. Each human being is a mind – body – spirit creature, and in order to live holistically and in full relationship with our family and friends, each of these components much be considered.
Mind Your Brain!
Are you paying attention to what is filling your mind? Do you recognize that you have a choice in that process? The power of positive thinking is a timeless concept. Practicing it daily can be a challenge; yet it is one of the most important things we can do to find balance. From last-century works of Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning) to the well-researched and proven methodologies by such greats as Thích Nhất Hạnh or Jon Kabat-Zinn, there is something available to fit anyone’s taste and lifestyle.
Neurobiologist Dr. Dan Siegel asks, “Are you paying attention to what you’re paying attention to?” Think about that. A simple example of positive mindfulness is this: practice letting go of automatic negative thoughts. When a negative thought comes to mind, quickly reframe it to a true, life-giving thought. Hold onto this process briefly and then—in your mind’s eye—let it go as if blowing a fully-seeded dandelion. Find online mindfulness resources such as Pocket Mindfulness at https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/.
Nutrition – Mind and Body
Nutrition is important to our brain and body, BUT did you realize food is not a primary nutrient? The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) shares that our relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality form the plate on which our fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains sit. Without our lives—primary nutrients—in balance, it is impossible to effectively fill our plates. Even the most expensive organic, non-processed foods won’t work.
Think about that for a minute. If we focus all our energies and resources on expensive organic foods but are not taking care of ourselves (uh-hmmm . . . self-care!), we are not getting the most out of our efforts. Other substances that comprise our balanced nutrition are joy, creativity, home cooking, our home environment and physical activity.
If you have more questions, check out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Primarily a training ground for certified nutritionists and health coaches it also provides informational resources on proper nutrition and self-care with some fascinating concepts.
Other helpful resources are Dr. Daniel Amen, leading psychiatrist and self-care proponent, and his wife, Tana Amen, who have written books and created videos and other media sharing ways positive thinking and proper nutrition promote optimal brain health and function. Visit their website http://danielamenmd.com.
Body and Exercise
Our bodies are made to move! Physical exercise such as strength and conditioning work helps us build/maintain strong bodies. Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are great forms of flexibility and strength work that help us achieve fluid motion and strong core muscles. All of these allow our bodies to release endorphins, enhance blood flow to the brain and boost our mood . . . alleviating stress and shifting our minds to positive thoughts.
We are each unique, so our best exercise habits are ones we will actually make time for in our busy days. Establish a regular time to go for a walk or hike, join a gym, take up yoga, find a dance studio, learn tennis, connect with a running, cycling or karate club. As the Nike ad says: “Just Do It!” Who knows! We may just meet a new friend in the process . . . equally important to our souls.
Remember . . . we are mind—body—and spirit creatures. The messages we fill our “spirit” place with will inform our feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions, and ultimately our very lives. Practicing intentional awareness—choosing well to find balance—allows us to live our very best life!
Seem far-fetched? Think about the last time you “just checked” Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or online news. Only spend 24 seconds? Me either. Little glances can quickly suck lots of time. Purposeful time with our thoughts, feelings, our Higher Power or our families can change everything. Are we willing to set down cell phones to allow more time for that?
How might our souls be filled in positive, healthy ways versus what we feel when reading about intense issues of the day broadcast through social media? Focusing on our spirituality and our own families will not solve any world crisis. But what if—by focusing on the positive—we are able to address world and social issues with a calmer spirit and peaceful perspective? Wouldn’t that be a good starting position for critical conversations with people whose opinion differ from ours?
Ancient wisdom tells us we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we don’t care about ourselves enough to practice healthy self-care, how can we possibly love others well? Our challenge today is this:
- If we aren’t already following these practices, let’s begin.
- If we are already pretty good in all these areas, how can you get better?
- Are we willing to mentor a friend, family member or co-worker to better self-care?
Let us live positively intentional!
By Rita Peterson LPC, NCC, to learn more about Rita visit https://mayfieldcounseling.com/about/