I’m big on self-care and I mention it all the time. I firmly believe that you absolutely cannot be the best mother, wife, partner, father, child, employee, student, friend, boss, whatever if you haven’t first taken care of yourself.
I teach Psychology courses at night and every semester in every single class I always spend a lecture on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I always spend a great deal of time on this area because a lot of my students are not just students. The role “student” is an addition to the many other roles they have. So I find that it is impossible for many of them to be the best student possible if many of their other roles are struggling for success, as well. The main role that I always focus on is the self because that is the core for everything else.
Abraham Maslow is one of my favorite psychologists. This is really saying something because I feel like I idolize many theorists and I get excited talking about anything related to Psychology. But I love Maslow because he legitimized self-care, and for that he automatically climbed the ranks and made his way to the top along with Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby (THE Attachment theorists that Attachment Parenting came from).
His main idea is that your well being is like a pyramid. You cannot move to the top of the pyramid if you first do not pay attention to the foundation. So, starting from the bottom, it is important to pay special attention to your basic human physiological needs.
Meaning, do you eat food that nourishes you?
Do you move your body the way it was meant to be moved?
Do you get good sleep and enough of it?
Do you drink enough water?
Do you go to the bathroom regularly?
And yes, do you have a healthy sex life? (not to say, “are you having sex?” But more, are you paying attention to your sexuality and sexual needs and then honoring them)
Before even moving up the pyramid I always spend a great deal of time on this first level. How many people truly feed themselves well, sleep enough, drink enough water, and move their bodies? Do YOU? I know I struggle with this, even with how important it is to me, mainly because during the day I sit at a desk for 8 hours. This is not the way to treat a body!
If you have skipped a meal, or eaten McDonald’s on the run, or gotten less than a full night’s rest, or you’re constipated … then you cannot possibly be the best version of yourself simply because your basic needs are not met.
- Massage. Every once in awhile I’ll get a massage. I love Massage Envy because it’s a quality massage at a decent price and they mostly have availability anytime I need.
- Sleep in. I rarely sleep in because I feel like you waste the best part of your day but sometimes it’s just so special to curl up in the sheets and let the sun shine on you as you snooze on.
- Mani/pedi. This may not apply to you but it definitely works for me. Feeling pampered and special and pretty all for $20?? Score.
- Bike rides. I love riding my bike anywhere and everywhere. I don’t always do it because the heat here and the crazy drivers here make it less than enjoyable sometimes. But when it’s right, it feels so good to move my blood and muscles, and do it gently.
- Mini road trips. My favorite way to feel like I’m doing something exciting is to leave this city and see something
betterdifferent. Just a day in another part of South Florida and I come back feeling a restored hope in humanity.
- Special meal. Sometimes I make something extra special to make the day feel like it’s all mine. A special meal really does do the body good.
- Hit the books. Books are the best thing you can do for your creativity and soul. It’s an intellectual way to escape to another world and reset your mood. I love it. It’s like an active meditation.
- Meditate. I don’t mean sit on your tush for hours and thinking about nothing, though I’d love to reach that sometime. But I mean, take a few minutes each day to take some deep breaths and just focus on how you’re feeling. Notice it, acknowledge it, and make peace with it. Boom. You’ve just meditated. Plus, it’s actually really good for you (even science supports this).
- Walking. I have a Pitta dosha which means connecting with nature in the evenings is probably one of the best ways to ground myself. And I have to say, when I do this I feel a thousand times better. Not an exaggeration. I really feel a thousand times better than I did before an evening walk.
- Gentle Exercise. And I mean gentle. I love exercising and I usually am pretty hard core about it. But what I began to notice was that it only added to my stress and wasn’t taking away from it, like it normally would. That is because sometimes we go into exercise with this mindset that we have to, we have to be better, feel better, look better. And then we beat ourselves up when we inevitably are not. Instead, I stopped that cycle and began looking at exercise as a way to relax. Long walks, gentle yoga, bike rides, even ridiculously unskilled games of tennis and basketball count. I’m a runner but I’ve paused my running because of the aforementioned heat issues here in Miami, but when I’m feeling good and calm I like to run, too. Do YOU. Don’t do Self.com and don’t do the latest Victoria’s Secret Angel workout. Do what feels good for you.