Finding Home Within: Embracing the Power of Self-care and Self-prioritization

Why do we need self care?

Self-care is one of those terms we see thrown about everywhere online, yet who among us actually take these suggestions to heart? I see it all the time – good intentions of self-care prioritization, yet daily demands add up and our priorities shift. We are aware that self-care helps to reduce stress, which not only offers mental benefits, but a multitude of physical benefits as well. Studies show that engaging in meaningful self-care and prioritizing your wellness can lower your heart rate, respiration rate, improve sleep, and lower blood cortisol levels. These lower levels of cortisol helps your body digest food, which may even help with weight loss. (Many times, people will ask me how they can lose belly fat, to which my response is always: “how are your stress levels?”) Stress can also compound chronic pain. I’m often asked how to reduce headaches or migraines, to which my response is usually: “what are your stress levels like?” Or, they’ll ask, how can I stop clenching my jaw so much? Again – “What is your stress level?” When you focus on first addressing WHY you have xyz issue, the issue tends to resolve itself once proper measures are achieved to mitigate the causative factor. If one of the causative factors is stress, or not prioritizing self-care: there’s your answer.

So, if you have any given issue, my first question to you is: “what is your stress level?” and then, “how are you managing your stress?” This isn’t to say all issues come down simply to stress levels, and I am not one to tell a person that “anxiety” is the root of their issues; but when your body is activating the SNS (sympathetic nervous system aka: fight or flight) constantly, you’re not giving your body a fighting chance to heal itself. The human body is such an incredible design, that it is capable of healing itself. When you chalk things up to a diagnosis, and don’t attend to your basic wellness in daily self-care rituals, you’re not even giving yourself a fighting chance. This is why truly engaging in self-care is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well-being.

How to incorporate self care in your daily life

I like the idea of incorporating self-care into little bits and pieces of your day, rather than making a big deal about bubble baths and getting massages – those things are important aspects of self-care, but there are things you can do daily to cultivate a lifestyle of prioritizing your needs. For example: we all need to eat daily, so utilize mindful eating rather than scarfing lunch over your desk while catching up on emails. Add some facial gua sha while you do your morning or night face washing routine (I like to freeze my amethyst gua sha tool, and then use it to de-puff my face in the mornings). Play some gentle music and put on some low lighting while you’re doing dishes after dinner. Lay down on the floor in the middle of a sunbeam like a cat would. Open the blinds and watch the sun rise while you’re enjoying your morning coffee. These are simple practices you can do as you move through life, to soak up the little moments you are grateful for, which help your life feel more meaningful.

One of my favorite books recently has been “Feral Self-care” by Mandi Em, in which she discusses some unconventional and free self-care methods. She suggests “feral” methods of self-care, such as screaming into the void, dancing in the rain, and running barefoot through the mud. Self-care doesn’t always have to be about consumerism or even cleanliness, it can be about connecting to your animalistic tendencies and finding connection to nature. If you’re ever looking for self-care ideas, I would highly recommend this book.

Woman sitting in the grass in a lotus position, with her hands on her legs.

In addition to these small tasks, it may be time to think about other areas in your life that need attention. For example, if you’re feeling burnt out, consider how technology has impacted you. According to a study by Birchbox, about 73% of Gen Z feels burnt out, while only 39% of Boomers feel burnt out. What do you suppose this means? My speculation (opinion), is that technology and constant connectedness has done more harm than good for our mental health overall. When we are at work, we are not able to disconnect from our personal lives if we’re also incorporating personal texts/calls/social media in our work lives; and if we’re constantly taking work emails/calls/texts while we’re at home, that may be impacting our personal lives. We hear a lot about work/life balance, but very often don’t consider the impact that technology and cell phones have had on this. Set boundaries in these areas, and try to really be present in whichever area you’re currently engaging in. (I’m sorry to say it, but when your boss harps on you for being on your phone at work – this may be why!)

Beyond setting boundaries in your life, and taking in gratitude and mindfulness in tasks you already do, your next step is to allow for bigger changes in your life. These are the areas we all know we need to focus on, but many of us struggle with. Things like eating healthy (not dieting), exercising, engaging in a hobby, deepening your spiritual practice, and connections with others. Keep in mind the 7 pillars of self-care, in order to determine which areas to focus on: mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, recreational, and social.

What you’ll get out of embracing self-care in your life

Embracing self-care and self-prioritization will help you live a better and healthier life. It may not be the cure for depression, anxiety, or any physical ailments you have, but it will at least give your body a fighting chance. By engaging in self-care, and treating yourself like you would treat a loved one, instead of just getting by, you’ll start to feel like you’re really living. Remember, life happens every day, it’s not something you experience once a year on vacation. If you don’t love and take care of yourself every day, and only do it once a month, you may still feel empty (even if you get a weekly bubble bath, or a monthly massage). Self-care is not merely a slogan of the newest spa, rather it should be a way of life. Think about who you want to be. Think of what you want your daily life to look like, what your routines and habits would be. Then start building those habits day to day. You don’t become who you want to be by wishing for it and staying the same – you become who you desire to be by taking action. Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.