What is self-care? To me, self-care means taking the steps necessary to make sure you are working on becoming the best version of yourself that you can be. When we love ourselves, and take care of ourselves, we can live wholeheartedly and–in turn–love others well. Here are five ways I practice self-care:
1. Eat whole, healthy foods.
I believe everyone’s body is different, and that there is not a one-size-fits-all nutrition plan for every person. The common thread between us all is whole foods. I believe that eating as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible is the best medicine we can give our bodies.
I have found that embracing a healthy eating lifestyle enables me to enjoy my favorite treats at the same time. Moderation is key when it comes to the foods we eat. Do not deprive yourself of your favorite foods, because if you restrict for too long, you will probably eventually give in and eat more than you originally would have in the first place. That being said, don’t buy five bags of your favorite chips at the grocery store in one shopping trip, and expect to only eat one serving size at a time. And finally, give yourself grace if/when you overindulge. It happens.
2. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
If I could, I would sleep 10-12 hours per night. But then I would never see my husband. Or have a life, for that matter. If I am at school anywhere from 9 to 11 hours, that would only leave a few hours to shower, prepare food, eat, clean up, and get ready to start it all over again the next morning.
There are nights when I can’t seem to turn my mind off, or when I decided to stay up late to watch one more episode of Damages with the hubs, and I only get 5-6 hours of sleep. Let me tell you, on those days I am dragging and irritable and impatient–definitely not becoming the best version of myself. Sleep is so valuable. Listen to your body and give it the rest you deserve.
In my journal, I write out (or type, rather) my hopes, dreams, failures, frustrations, fears, and blessings. I also write out things I am grateful for. Some days, keeping a perspective of gratitude can really help me get out of a negative funk. When I continually remember all that I have to be grateful for, my heart is literally filled with joy.
(Side note: I use the Day One app, a password-protected journal application which archives all of my entries and syncs with my phone, iPad, and laptop. Day One also features tags to help you keep your writing organized. I highly recommend checking it out.)
Exercise + outside is the best combination, in my opinion, because you enjoy the benefits of the natural sunlight and all the senses of the season. I still enjoy exercising inside too. Whatever you like to do for exercise, just move. Stretch. Go for a walk. Whatever is best for you.
5. Find time for solitude.
When I am at school all day, I am in constant communication with others: all of my students, plus my core team of two more resource teachers, our speech / language pathologist, school psychologist, social worker, and five instructional assistants, as well as 11 classroom teachers. My husband and I carpool together most days, so I don’t have very much alone time naturally built into my day. Even though I am primarily an extrovert, I have found that it is so key to make time and space to be alone. Sometimes this looks like journaling, or reading, or baking, or just going for a walk or run by myself.
What does self-care look like for you? How are you becoming the best version of you?
Love, Ali xo
I'm Ali. I write about my journey of living a full and healthy life with food allergies, overcoming the comparison trap, and cultivating authenticity.