I talk a lot about self-care, mainly because I know how extremely important it is to do. In our demanding, busy, fast-paced lives, we need to remember to take time out to take care for ourselves. That is where healing begins and wellness can be achieved. If we constantly stay in the go-go-go, do-do-do, give-give-give mindset, we begin to loose ourselves, our energy, and our health.
I was reminded of this, yet again, over the past couple of months. This winter seemed to really have taken its toll on everyone this year, myself included, but even more so, on my employees that I manage at a massage clinic. I was noticing that they all seemed to be more worn down, stressed, emotional, tired, getting sick more frequently, and even had some wrist and hand injuries that were bothering them. In our monthly staff meetings, I like to talk about ways to be a better therapist, best practices, inspire them to look and start planning the directions of their future massage careers, and to discuss any issues or problems that they run across that they want to address or learn more about. In April I was concerned about their self-care regimes. All work multiple jobs and are in constant go mode. I brought up the topic of self-care to them. I asked them if they would like to talk a little bit about it and to have it as a main discussion topic in our next meeting. All eagerly responded with a resounding, “YES”! We talked briefly about what self-care was and about the importance of not only physical self-care, but emotional self-care. I then gave them the assignment to come to our next meeting with a list of some things that they do for both physical and emotional self-care, and to be prepared to share them with each other.
Self-Care in General: Self-care is an active role of engagement done to promote one’s own health to obtain and maintain optimal overall health and wellness. Doctors like to prescribe self-care in forms of regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding smoking and alcohol. Self-Care, however, is a combination of actively taking the time for yourself to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. Some of these categories overlap, and for simplicity of my discussion, I broke them into two focus points of physical and emotional.
Physical Self-Care: Physical self-care is what most people initially think of when they hear about self-care. Taking the time to exercise, eat healthy meals, drinking water, getting plenty of sleep each night…after all, this is what your doctor tells you about. It is very important to take care of our bodies. We only get one to live in, so we need to take care of it and maintain it, just like we would with a car. Routine care and maintenance will help keep it running better and for longer.
Emotional Self-Care: Emotional self-care is a little more abstract or a foreign concept for people. I tend to combine emotional and mental together, for they tend to go hand in hand with each other. How we feel and how we think have a direct effect on our overall health. Our emotional and mental state allows us to cope with stress and to overcome obstacles in our everyday lives. If we do not take care of our emotional and mental self, we can easily become overwhelmed, angry, depressed, develop headaches, muscles tension, and lead us to a compromised immune system, allowing us to become susceptible to disease and illness. Everyone needs to remember to take time out and address their emotional/mental self. Healing from within, leads to healing without. If you feel good and are happy, you will enjoy life more, be able to handle your daily stressors with greater ease, and want to be more physically active and to participate in your overall health.
Things we do for self-care; physically and emotionally: I was very pleased with the thoughtfulness and energy that my employees gave this assignment of sharing what they do for self-care. It was a good reminder for them to actively think about and participate in their own self-care and to be able to give and share ideas that others may benefit from and apply to their own lives. Here are some of the things we do for self-care:
What are some ways that you practice self-care? Take a minute or two and write down what you do to help promote your overall health and well-being. It may be something as simple as cooking or baking, entertaining friends and family, or giving and receiving hugs. Maybe some of our ideas can be applied to your life, or maybe they inspire you to do more. Take the time to care for yourself, so that you can then continue to help take care of others in your life (and be there for support), and to lead you to a healthier, and happier life.
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.