Your self-care practice. What does it consist of? Bubble baths and spa days? How do you feel when you practice self-care? Selfish for taking the time out for you? Or do you feel guilty for not taking the time?
Developing a self-care practice is beneficial for everyone, but especially important to highly sensitive types, empaths, caretakers, perfectionists, high achievers, and people-pleasers. The busier and overextended you are, the more you need time for yourself.
The most effective self-care practice is one based on your own intuition — tuning in to what your inner self already knows and taking action from that place.
Why a regular self-care practice is important
You’ve heard it before: Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have. And like any relationship, it needs to be nurtured in order to stay healthy.
The best kind of self-care helps you maintain your energy so that you can show up more powerfully in the world. It allows you to rest and recuperate so you don’t experience burnout and fatigue.
An effective self-care practice is one that gives you what you need in order to be of service to others. After all, you can’t help someone put on their oxygen mask if yours is nowhere to be found.
When it comes to taking care of yourself, consistency is key. A regular practice helps you feel more centered, relaxed, and focused over time. And like yoga or meditation, a self-care is exactly that — a practice — that requires constantly returning to yourself.
The type of self-care matters
When people hear the word self-care, they think of spa days and bubble baths or pedicures and haircuts.
While your practice may include those activities, self-care is not just about your body or outside image. Complete self-care means nurturing yourself from the inside out; not the other way around.
An effective self-care practice includes paying attention to your body, mind, and soul. This requires checking in with yourself on a regular basis and developing a keen awareness of what you need.
Keep in mind, your most effective self-care isn’t necessarily the same from day to day. The activities will change based on what’s going on with you. Some days you might need a quiet walk alone, other days you might need a sweaty workout, other days you might need to have a long overdue conversation.
How you can create your own personalized self-care plan
These 5 steps can help you create an effective self-care practice personalized to your needs by tuning into your body and intuition, and taking the necessary actions to best support yourself.
1. Find a way to check-in with yourself on a regular basis. Whether it’s a 10-minute meditation, a 20-minute walk in nature, or an hour of solitude, find an activity and amount of time you can fit into your schedule on most days. Whatever works for you, commit to making it a regular practice, and create the time and space to make it happen.
2. Acknowledge where you’re at in that moment. How are you feeling? If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re frustrated, be frustrated. Whatever you’re feeling, acknowledge it. It’s much more therapeutic to allow your feelings to come up and pass through you rather than to stuff them inside or pretend they don’t exist.
3. Listen to what your body, mind, and soul is telling you. What is calling out for your attention? What has been neglected that needs to be brought to light? You might notice anything from a persistently sore muscle to nagging resentment over an argument to a need for sleep or activity. If you can’t hear what your intuition or your body is telling you, practice sitting in solitude on a regular basis until something does arise.
4. Based on the messages you receive, what action do you need to take? If you feel the need for rest, your action could be a cat nap. If you detect resentment, your action might be to call the person you feel resentment toward and share your feelings. If you sense tension, your action might be to get a massage. If you feel stagnant in your life, your action could be to move your body. Maybe the best action is to sit in solitude.
5. Take action. (This is important!) Whatever you sense you need, give yourself the time and space to do that thing. Although having awareness is a great first step, it’s not enough on its own to give you the relief you seek. You must take the in order to feel better.
When you repeat this sequence on a regular basis, you’ll develop a heightened sense of self-awareness, be able to identify how to best support yourself, and create the time for those activities.
Creating an effective self-care practice gets easier over time and it’s worth taking the time. Cultivating this type of intuitive self-care will help you maintain your sense of self, source of energy, and feeling of centeredness and peace.
Do you want help creating your intuitive self-care practice? Download this free Self-Care Planner and Tracker to get started!