How to Cultivate a Healthy Self-Care Routine

As a mother to 3 small children, living a busy life, I know all too well the importance of self-care. Self-care by definition is taking an active role in protecting your own well-being. Well being refers to the state of being healthy in body, in spirit and in mind. In otherwards, self-care as taking care of yourself physically, spiritually an emotionally.

Many people think of self-care as something that we do, or should do when we feel like we are reaching our limits, feeling stressed, overwhelmed or are completely burnt out. But, the truth is that self-care is not just some activity that we should get to once in a while, but something that we should try to live out EVERY SINGLE DAY. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Self-care is the method by which we fill our cups daily, so that we can pour into those that need us – our spouses, children, friends etc. Self-care is taking care of you, by you and for you, so that you can continue to do what you love with the people that you love.

While self-care is something that every single one of us needs, it will not be the same for everyone. What is relaxing for one person, may be very stressful for another person. It’s important to know yourself, what relaxes, energizes or uplifts you. A healthy self-care routine should consist of REST, MOVEMENT, NOURISHMENT & PAMPERING.

REST– I have put this first because most women do not get nearly enough rest. No matter what stage or season of life you are in, chances are you have many responsibilities that may drain you and tire you out daily – homemaking, caring for children, running a business, or working a 9-5 job. Women are nurturers by nature and this can often leave us tired and worn. Chronic lack of sleep can affect your health, mood, productivity and happiness. It’s not always easy to “get more sleep” especially when you’re in a season of newborns and toddlers, but you can try your best to go to bed early or fit in a nap when you need to. Getting enough sleep is important , but rest doesn’t only refer to sleep – it also refers to getting some downtime/quiet time to recharge each day. In order to fit in more rest we need to;

• Practice saying NO sometimes. We can’t be everywhere and do everything if we truly want to take care of ourselves. It’s important to know what your limit is and to stop BEFORE your reach it.

• Practise saying YES sometimes. Yes to help – from your spouse, family, friends and sometimes even strangers. Saying yes to help can free up more time for us to rest, even if its just for a few minutes.

MOVEMENT – Movement doesn’t always have to look like going to the gym or going for a run. Movement is simply any physical activity that you enjoy doing – i.e. walking, dancing, swimming etc – the most important thing is to make sure you move daily and that you have fun doing it. In order to ensure that you fit in movement daily you need to consider your unique circumstances and season of life and do what works for now – follow the path of least resistance;

• Go for a walk if the weather is nice and the kids are getting restless

• Turn on some music and DANCE if you like to dance

• Exercise at home if life is just too busy right now for you to get to the gym

NOURISHMENT – Nourishment for self-care involves feeding your mind and your spirit. Nourishing your mind means feeding it with things that you find interesting and inspirational – like reading a good book or listening to a good podcast. Nourishing your spirit means taking time out daily for prayer, quiet meditation and to recharge from the inside out. Find pockets of time in your day that are less busy and fit in nourishment, it could be listening to a podcast while you fold laundry, or waking up early to pray and read your Bible. Do what works for you. In this season with a baby and very busy days, I can’t usually get up before the rest of the family so I wait till the big kids are off to school and use those 2-3 hours my personal nourishment time.

PAMPERING – This is something that we all crave and we all need. It might not be possible to get pampered everyday but we can make it a regular occurrence by scheduling it in. Going to the spa, getting massages, getting a mani-pedi or simply declaring a “no work day” for yourself every so often are great ways to pamper yourself.

Self-care is not selfish, cultivating healthy self-care routines for ourselves is essential for our well being.

What steps will you take today to help you cultivate a healthy self-care routine?