Whether you believe self-care has a fundamental role to play in overall well being or are skeptical it could be a buzz word used in our current society, I thought it important to highlight what self-care really is and how it can improve our wellbeing and elevate our EQ aka. our Emotional Intelligence.
By definition EQ) is the fundamental need to learn how to take care of yourself emotionally, physically and mentally. Taking care of ourselves is the cornerstone or foundation our motivation, success, action and resilience to navigate life's twists and turns is built upon.
It isn't enough for me as a practitioner to instruct you to build self-care into our lifestyle. I need to have more conversations that invite a solution to why you may not be currently caring for yourself on a daily basis. A good place to start is taking a one step at a time approach and building in SMART ways to achieve self-care goals.
One way I like to do this with my clients is by asking them questions so that I can understand how time is spent in my client's day and then draw on and develop strategies to help my clients implement the time and attention necessary to caring for themselves. I don't even use the terms self-care or emotional intelligence. I simply help my clients build awareness around what may or may not be happening daily to fill their bucket and then develop actionable skills of self-care and EQ.
Some of the benefits of Self Care Rituals and EQ are:
Improved Emotional Self-Regulation - Knowing what you need to say and do to care for yourself in the moments when life is challenging, and you feel you may have fallen down your list of things to do again... (calling all mom's, businesswomen and doers out there).
Reduced impact in times of stress and better ability to cope with life as it happens - when we care for ourselves we have better resistance to burnout and overwhelm because we are working from a cup half full vs. empty.
Better physical, mental and emotional energy - Looking after ourselves and keeping connected to what brings us joy improves productivity and adds fuel to our energy gas tank. We have better focus, drive and motivation to do well in all areas of our life.
Improved physical, emotional and mental wellbeing - Practicing self-care with what we eat and drink, as well as how we choose to move our body improves metabolism, reduces anxiety, improves body image and literally helps us feel elevated. Our dietary lifestyle and exercise impact our brain and organs in how they detoxify, function and recover. Now more than ever we need to shift our mindset on why we eat/drink/play and move the way we do.
Deeper and more restful sleep - When we care for ourselves, we impact our nervous system in a multitude of ways. One of which is teaching it how to down regulate itself. When we activate our parasympathetic nervous system with walks, baths, breathing activities, mental breaks and down time, we allow our body to experience rest. Rather than running full tilt and staying in fight or flight (the jolting way you feel you are always rushing) you provide opportunities to fall asleep more easily and what we find is that clients sleep deeper and recover at better rates.
My personal rituals of self-care change depending on:
Where I am in my menstrual cycle
What my work schedule looks like
How busy we are as a family
How my palpable mental/emotional/physical health feels at the time.
Almost always my own self care begins with releasing the guilt of “not doing my job” as a mom, wife, practitioner, daughter, doer and all over high functioning human.
Example: If I plan my day to include time for a walk or a bath or workout- and its time away from your kids, instead of going to a place of feeling guilty for taking time away I shift my focus to all of the ways it will heighten my productivity, focus, attention and presence within these roles.
Example: My initial thought maybe I should work through lunch so I can get more done... But I know not eating places my physical, emotional, mental health under stress, causes feelings of resentment and overwhelm and leaves me vulnerable to losing my temper later on. So, I remind myself that taking a lunch is important to remain the high functioning mom, practitioner and wife I wish to be and by leading by example I am teaching those around me to do the same.
Often the biggest hurdle to successful self-care is our inability to stop doing things or to say ‘no’ to something. Active self-care therefore also involves active decisions about things you will stop doing. For example, self-care can involve not logging in to work emails over the weekend or saying ‘no’ to another request to help when you are already spread thinly... Anyone struggle with this one? I know it was a HUGE hurdle for me for many years. I am not sure about you but as amazing as my mom is (truly she is incredible and one of the closest people to me in my life), she never practiced these principles and so I had to learn the hard way how de-prioritization of my needs negatively impacted my life.
Also, I check in multiple times a day to ask for what I need. One day it may be abandoning doing the laundry because I simply cannot add anything else to my day. Another could be asking my family to help me prepare dinner, so I am not doing it all myself. Then again, I may need connection and play and so I invite my family to engage in an after-dinner walk, bike ride, game of pick up or rollerblade to improve our connection as a family. What I am trying to highlight is our need to connect to our inner compass and allow self regulation of tasks vs. play and rest.
This simply scratches the surface of building self-care/EQ routines, but I am hopeful it gives you the idea and invites an opportunity to build awareness around your own emotional intelligence and perhaps begin to break down the idea that we have to be all things to all people and nothing to ourselves.
With increased EQ comes an increased awareness that self-care is in fact the opposite of selfish. It is only through taking good care of ourselves that we have the resources to take care of others. It’s only through self-care that we can be a good parent, partner, friend, colleague or leader.
How often are you checking in? What are your true expectations of yourself every day?
I want you to see the value of your own self-care rituals and the literal necessity to make time for you and only you every day. I want you to see time for you as advocacy and perhaps a self-practiced therapy to deepen your understanding of yourself. It is not a selfish act. It is the exact opposite and I want you to know you are worth it!
As a bonus for this blog: head to my free resources site on my website and pick up my printable affirmations document. Mine hangs in my kitchen window. A dear friend of mine taught me the power of affirmations years ago and now I am gifting you your first set of affirmations to kickstart your ability to manifest your worth and acceptance of your personal needs.
Additionally, do you know about my Women's Wellness Society Membership? Within our group I teach so many principals that can help fuel your health and wellbeing and I would love you to join us. CLICK HERE to learn more about it and join us today.
With light and Love,
Marissa Sylvester Registered Holistic Nutritionist Culinary Expert www.marissasylvesterwellness.com