Check in with yourself emotionally, mentally and physically, and take practical steps to meet your needs.
Self-care is an important concept that requires both action and self-compassion. To start, check in with yourself emotionally, mentally and physically to identify what you need. Respond to those needs with acts of caring passion, such as rest, time with friends, movement, and nourishing activities. Treat yourself kindly and provide your body and mind with the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
WHAT DO I NEED TODAY?
However, it is not enough to check in with yourself. Action is also needed. And that means responding to what you need. This is what is known as self-care. Some people struggle with this concept, as they may see it as light-hearted or complacent. But that is not it.
Owen explains that taking care of yourself is the practical act, but it takes self-compassion. They both have to work hand in hand.
“I call this caring passion: the act of caring compassionately for yourself,” he said. “This really is the heart and soul of better mental well-being.”
WHAT DO I NEED EMOTIONALLY TODAY?
Think about how you would react to a sad child. Most people, when they see a child crying, upset, scared or vulnerable, will try to comfort and calm that child down. It is an innate primary response. And that’s exactly how we should try to respond to our own emotions (especially difficult ones) when they arise.
Ask yourself: what do I need? Give the emotion a moment to speak. It could be that an image, a word, a memory, a sound or even a song comes to mind. Here are some examples of needs that may arise and suggestions for what they might mean:
- Sadness: I need rest. I need liberation. I need to be heard. I have to stop. Anger: I need this to change. I need to be understood. I have to express this.
- Fear: I need to feel safe. I need to know I’m not alone. I need to know that everything is okay.
- Loneliness: I need company. I need to be understood. I need new people. I need someone to listen to me.
Take the time to figure out what you need for the day ahead – whether that’s time with friends or a moment of quiet reflection
WHAT PRACTICAL STEPS CAN I TAKE TODAY TO HELP MYSELF EMOTIONALLY?
Once you have an idea of the needs your emotions reveal, decide what acts of caring passion can help you take care of your emotional self that day. For example: a day of rest, lunch with a friend, a walk in the park, watching a movie or cooking a favorite meal.
HOW DO I HANDLE MY EMOTIONS TODAY?
Are you going to make it easy on yourself? Do you talk to yourself calmly, with kindness and acceptance? Do you drop judgment, criticism, and harshness toward yourself? Notice how the emotions begin to sink in as you do, as they have been given permission to be seen, heard, and be as they are. This is a powerful way of life.
WHAT DOES MY BODY NEED TODAY?
Ask your body: what do I need? When checking in with your body, it’s important to respond to it and be curious about the possibility of it communicating. For example:
- Pain: I need release. I need freedom. I have to leave. I have to let go.
- Tension: I need to relax more. I need space. I have to express this. Tingling: I need reassurance. I need some clarity. I need a plan. I need to find comfort.
WHAT PRACTICAL STEPS CAN I TAKE TODAY TO HELP MY BODY?
Whatever your mobility status, some form of action can help unlock the negative energy held in your body. Movement creates a flow that helps loosen areas of ‘stuckness’. For example, stretching, yoga, pilates, running or walking.
Try to schedule some form of exercise during the day. Movement creates a flow that helps open up areas of ‘stuckness’
HOW SHALL I TREAT MY BODY TODAY?
Do you treat your body gently and kindly and accept it? Are you letting go of judgment, criticism, and harshness toward your physical self? Will you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to support your health? Again, as you perform these actions, notice how the body comes to rest.
WHAT DOES MY MIND NEED TODAY?
The human brain, like any organ in the body, can be overworked at times. It needs time to rest, reset and recover. If you don’t create space within the day for this to happen, your brain will quickly become exhausted.
Remember: your mind is the epicenter of everything. Maintenance is not a luxury, it is an absolute must because your brain is like a sponge. It absorbs all the contents of your day. It reacts when you think too much. It activates your ‘threat mechanism’ when you are in stressful situations. In short, it keeps working unless you tell it to pause.
WHAT PRACTICAL STEPS CAN I TAKE TODAY TO HELP MY MIND?
Techniques such as meditation and breathwork are powerful because they can act as a means of instructing the brain to pause or slow down. They create balance. But anything that helps to create a sense of calm and space in your day is good. Consider the following every day, in addition to meditation and breathwork:
- Rest for your mind: reading for pleasure, watching your favorite TV show or movie
- Minimize stress and pressure: Feed your mind nourishing information with motivational podcasts, a documentary, a TED Talk, a non-fiction book on an interesting topic
- Spend time in green spaces
- Eat healthy foods that promote a healthy brain
- Talk kindly to yourself