Sage Curtis on National Self-Care Awareness Month
“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel burnout setting in, if you feel demoralized or exhausted, it is best for the sake of everyone to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective” – Dalai Lama
For the first time in 2017, the Registrar at the National Day Calendar recognizes September as National Self-Care Awareness Month.
Founded by popular blog Evolve to Live to promote awareness of individual self-care, September highlights the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of practicing self-care on a regular basis. The operative word, however, is awareness.
It’s something we aren’t always cognizant of. Many of us get up in the morning, go through our usual routine, and go to work. The days can be a long grind, sacrificing our own essential needs for other important things, such as the needs of our jobs and the needs of our loved ones.
But one empty bottle can not fill another’s glass. Sometimes it’s important to step back and take time for ourselves – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
“As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment and purity through meditation and attains reality”. – Adi Shankara
The health benefits of both practices have been well documented. Meditation leads to a relaxation of your sympathetic nervous system. This helps with blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.
The physical benefits of yoga from a strength and endurance standpoint are many. Your core strength, flexibility and posture can improve dramatically.
Don’t have time for yoga classes or meditation? Practice a simple deep breathing exercise. Taking a moment to relax and breathe can help with stress, blood flow, and general relief of body pain. Deep breathing is an all-encompassing exercise that can help promote positive energy or aid in a good night’s sleep.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore
When establishing a daily routine, think about making certain foods a regular part of your diet. Mix in fruits and vegetables with each meal, drink tea instead of coffee, and avoid drugs and alcohol.
The benefits from a caloric, vitamin, and mineral standpoint are discussed often within health food circles. But how about the financial benefits of purchasing vegetables regularly? A head of cabbage or zucchini squash typically costs less than $2-3, and a small bag of potatoes are not much more than $5. These products can supplement your meals for one week or more.
Good digestion is also a major benefit of regularly taking in vegetables. It’s often not discussed in open forums, but your toilet time will decrease significantly with a healthy diet of leafy greens and the like!
Tea not only tastes good, but is good for you and comes in a seemingly endless variety of flavors. Additionally, you won’t find the caffeine crash with that is associated with coffee when you drink tea either.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
Expressive writing – writing down your daily thoughts in a journal or blog – can provide therapeutic value, and keeping a running log of your personal thoughts and feelings to look back upon can provide numerous emotional health benefits.
Yes – journal therapy is actually a thing. Documenting your internal experiences and reflecting on your past can help you achieve clarity and peace of mind, which can lead to an increase in confidence and a better night’s rest.
As Lavar Burton once said, “take a look, it’s in a book!” Reading can also give you an emotional recharge and help exercise your synapses with a wider vocabulary, expand reality and emotional curiosity, improve memory, entertain, relieve stress, and extract pulp from your creative fruits.
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” – Albert Einstein
Feeling good while listening to music isn’t just some sort of intangible, abstract experience – it’s scientifically proven to release dopamine in your brain, nurturing positive energy and feelings of happiness.
The music of our lifetime, and particularly our youth, is deeply rooted within our subconscious and directly tied to feelings of nostalgia. It’s no wonder music therapy has been used for both cancer patients and those who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
“Treat Yo Self”
It’s been more than five years since popular sitcom Parks and Recreation satirized lavish selfishness with a new holiday. “Treat Yo Self Day,” officially observed on October 13 of every year, was a fun mockery of what you could do if you went out and bought whatever you felt like, just because you can.
But the humor of the premise begets a bit of truth within the underlying message. It’s ok to be a little selfish, and it’s right to take some time to reward yourself for your hard work.
Whether you opt to buy a big “me” gift, so long as it doesn’t max out your credit card and drive yourself into financial ruin, to occasionally eating pizza and candy on the weekend, the mental health benefits of rewarding yourself for the fruits of your labor and personal upkeep can serve as positive reinforcement to keep it up – and take care of yourself – not just in the month of September, but for all the months to come!