Monique West, LCSW-R
Myths of Self Care: 3 Steps to Restorative Self Care
Updated: Mar 7, 2020
The word 'Self-Care' has gotten quite a high level of traffic recently in popular culture. Self- Care has been touted as the cure to stress. Self-Care is often mistaken with Self- Maintenance. Self-Maintenance are activities and practices you do to keep your self functioning at baseline. Self-Maintenance are grooming activities such as manicures, pedicures, hair styling and make-up/cosmetic application. While self-maintenance is part of everyday functioning; Self-Care is meant to be a daily or almost daily practice that restores your mind, body, spirit and emotional energy. We will discuss differentiating between the two for better awareness and deeper relaxation.
Like we gas up our vehicles when on empty, self-care activities serves to restore our energy source so we feel lighter, more playful and less tense. Start to explore for yourself activities that may restore your sense of self. For some people it may be a few activities that serves as a recentering practice. In order to differentiate if you have practiced an effective restorative self care activity you can begin to ask yourself:
Do I feel more energized?
Can I now recognize more spaces in my life in which I'm grateful?
Can I now more readily identify the things that I enjoy?
Do I now have a better awareness of what/who was initially bringing me stress?
Do I feel lighter and more playful?
Can I now connect or recognize something greater than myself? (God-like entity, community or greater good)
Are my thoughts and feelings within manageable levels?
While you struggle with finding restorative self-care to destress consider:
1. Body Awareness
Find activities that will raise your endorphin levels. Studies show that promoting endorphins can decrease sleep disturbances, aches and pains, moodiness, increased focus, improved concentration, anxiety and depression. Activities that will allow you to move your body and promote endorphin flow are:
* Power Walking/Light Jogging
* Zumba/ Dancing to music
* Meditative walks in nature
* Weight Lifting
2. Mind Awareness
The ways in which we feed our minds indirectly affects our overall health. Being aware of the thoughts we think can severely affect our levels of anxiety and stress responses. Here are some activities to restore cognitive health:
* Listening to an uplifting podcast
* Attending a self help workshop or webinar
* Watching an inspirational youtube video
* Listening to fiction or nonfiction audiobook
* Improving negative self talk to more positive counterbalance thoughts
* Enrolling in an online or in person course to expand your knowledge on a subject area of your interest.
* Detoxing from social media (social media can set up an environment for people comparisons which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness)
3. Spiritual and Emotional Awareness
The human spirit includes our intellect, emotions, fears, passions and creativity. The human spirit guides us to more awareness, insight, understanding and imagination. All throughout the day we stay plugged in and distracted with daily activities, task and responsibilities. It is easy to get lost in the day to day. Doing activities to care for your spirit will help you better release tension and increase awareness and creativity. Examples of activities for spiritual and emotional care are:
* Journalling can help you express your deepest thoughts and feelings. Journalling can help you reduce racing thoughts and anxiety.
* Keep a running list of what's good about you- positive characteristics and traits to drown out the list of negatives.
* Deep Breathing (Check out "Diaphragmatic breathing" on youtube to learn effective techniques)
* Mindfulness guided meditation- you can find these guided meditations on youtube, or download a meditation app such as headspace, calm or Relax+. Guided meditation increases awareness and trains your mind to move from frantic pace to more organized and calm.
* Repeating a mantra or affirmation- can improve mood and self esteem. An example of a mantra or affirmation can be: "I affirm my self worth today, I am enough and valuable as is"
"I am worthy of love, I am worthy of respect and I am deserving of happiness"
* Volunteer - Focusing on the greater good and helping others can give you a bigger perspective outside of your own thoughts and life.
* Join a spiritual or religious community - The socialization that comes along with joining a spiritual or worship community can reduce isolation and depressive spirals. Having a focus that is greater than your own immediate needs and desires can expand your spiritual enrichment.
* Find a creative outlet- Take a cooking class, do a painting class, learn to play a musical instrument. Write a blog. Do a vision board or engage in adult coloring.
* Engage in traditional in person therapy, life coaching or online therapy- Therapy and/or life coaching can help you get in touch with what brings you hope, joy and contentment.
Therapy/Life coaching can help you clarify your values, create healthier boundaries and find your life's passion and creative center.
Overall health means creating a wellness plan to honor your body, mind, spirit and emotions. Self Care is only effective when practiced consistently. Set aside at least fifteen minutes per day to self-care- You deserve it!
your life's passion and creative center.
Overall health means creating a wellness plan to honor your body, mind, spirit and emotions. Self Care is only effective when practiced consistently.