What the heck is Self-Care?

A couple of weeks ago I was getting massage. This is what I always imagine as “Self-care.” It always seemed fancy and luxurious. I was being fancy!

However, it was during this session that I realized I have not been fully practicing self-care in the way it should be done. The massage therapist told me my ischiotibial (IT) band was very tight! This is a ligament that is in the outer side of your upper leg. When this is tight, it can cause pulling on other muscles and bones that can result in pain or injury.

I exercise rigorously and regularly. I have lost weight and gained muscle. My physique has completely changed! Because of that change I need to make sure my muscles are long and loose as the heal, rebuild. You don’t want to have short, tight muscles because it can be painful and cause injury.

After the therapist told me this, I realized I have been coaching and encouraging people to practice self-care but I have not been doing it myself regularly.

Self-care is actually not fancy, luxurious, selfish, or indulgent. Self-care is simply taking care of yourself to maintain health, prevent issues, and/or improve your health.

Eating a well-balanced meal is self-care. Exercising is self-care. Meditating is self-care. Going to the doctor is self-care. Going to the dentist is self-care. This can go on and on.

For me the self-care that I was negating was stretching. I was doing my pre-workout warm up and my post-workout cool down, but I have not been stretching my muscles out and insuring that is the way they stay throughout the day.

I could feel a burning pull in the side of my leg when I stretched. I was aware but did not take the time to remedy. This week my back began to ache. I relate this back ache to the right IT band that is now causing more severe problems because of the tightening and pulling.

The time has come. Self-care has to happen!

If we are not being intentional by taking time to preserve or improve our health an injury, illness, break will happen. This could be physical, mental, or emotional.

If we are not taking care of ourselves, who is going to?

And if we aren’t taking care of ourselves we will not be able to sustain taking care of and serving others.

Here I am, moving slower as I am taking care of my children. Trying to catch up on all the stretching my body has missed out on in attempts to ease the pain and regain my usual strength and pace.

So my focus is on stretching right now, but there are so many forms of self-care that might be missing from your life:

  • Reading the Bible
  • Journaling
  • Stretching
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Doing something that makes you laugh
  • Going to the doctor
  • Meditating
  • Going for a leisurely walk
  • Sewing
  • Painting

As you can see self-care is really anything as long as it seeks after maintaining or improving your physical, mental, and emotional health. Your self-care activities may look different day to day, week to week, month to month because the focus is on what you need at that particular time. But in order to continually be on top of our self-care, we need to be paying attention to our bodies and our mental/emotional health.

How does this look for you? Are you ready to start self-care? Maybe you already do self-care on the regular, what does your self-care look like? Leave your comments below.

-Melissa

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