Updated: Jan 5, 2021
What is self-care? I think it is hard to find the balance of what is actually self-care. Sometimes self-care means doing the hard thing, or being disciplined. Really caring for your self is not the easy way out. It is challenging, and uncomfortable sometimes.
The world is so complicated nowadays and we have moved so far away from any kind of instinctual living that sometimes we miss the cues our body is giving us. We can't hear our "selves" think through the barrage of messages we are getting from everywhere, everyone at all times, day and night. Thus, it has become very challenging to tune into our bodies and minds in order to figure out what we actually need.
As a scientist and physician, I am continually amazed at how magnificently and accurately our beautiful bodies function. The regulatory mechanisms are nearly flawless - intricate and elaborate and regulating complex systems to precise temperature, blood glucose level, oxygen level and on and on. Yet, it seems many peoples bodies and minds have failed them. Our modern society is riddled with new diseases, especially If we can connect to our bodies in a very real way, then we really could practice self-care effectively. When you are tired, you should sleep, when you are hungry, you should eat, when you are thirsty, you should drink. When you are anxious you should do activities that calm your nerves and perhaps more importantly acknowledge that you are anxious, sad, depressed - whatever it is.
I have many theories on this world that we find ourselves living in, and why we have come so far away from our spiritual connection to ourselves, and our essential connection to our health and well being. I think it is effectively hard to trust yourself and your instincts when your leaders, your manufacturers and big Pharma lie to you all the time. There are toxins in our air and products that cause cancers, and we are lied to about this all the time. I am not going to footnote this, and this is not a research paper, it is my opinion and I believe it to be true. There are food products that are aggressively marketed that make us sick, from being laden with poisons and toxins to making us obese and ruining our immune system and our organs. And then there is the internet and social media and the frenzy of activity and FOMO that has created. Not to mention addiction. In 10 years we are going to be treating the biggest addiction that has ever afflicted any population. We are bombarded by information, lies and facts, and we can no longer surmise what is real and what is not.
So, how do we practice self care? I think I can start with telling you what self care is not. Self-care is not avoidant and a procrastinator. Self care is not shying away from conflict or duties or challenges. Self-care means really tuning into what your body and mind need and then honoring that, even if it is challenging, and requires discipline. Self-care means trusting your instincts about yourself. Your body knows how to take care of itself. When people have severe allergies, they usually have an aversion to the thing they are allergic to...how does the body know this? Even if they have never been exposed to the allergen. Our bodies know how to heal. We heal our own wounds, repair our DNA, do all sorts of fascinating things with no training manual.
The problem with self care is that we cannot tune into our needs, amidst all the barrage of information and lies we are being told. So you need to find a way to tune out the world and tune into your self. Daily. Find a quiet place and close your eyes and exhale, and ask yourself - how do I feel? Am I tired? Hungry? Sleepy? Angry? If i am anxious, what am I anxious about? Half the time we wander about not even knowing why we are feeling the things we are feeling, and what it is we are feeling. And without that information we cannot deal with it, or make it any better.
Why is self-care so important? It is so important because bodies know best - better than any doctor or nurse, yoga guru, healer or spiritual leader. But you have to figure out how to connect to yourself in a world that is trying to derail you from your basic instincts.
Tips on self-care:
Say yes to yourself/put yourself first
Listen to your instincts but don't be paranoid
You cannot please everyone, some times you cannot please anyone
Listen to yourself and don't be scared by what you hear
Allow yourself to feel your feelings, even if they are unpalatable
Take care of yourself the way you would take care of someone else
Thank you for being part of my health and wellness community!
Until Next Time,
Alexes Hazen MD, FACS