I was recently interviewed by a magazine and was asked what I do for “self care”.
We know that we can’t give from an empty well and our tank must be topped up regularly for us to have anything to give out in the first place. Mums know this all too well but the challenge in our modern world is how exactly do we regularly top up our tank when there ain’t no village helping us raise our kids?
The interviewer was shock by my response as most people talk about self care in terms of painting their nails, having a bubble bath, dancing to music, and regular facials.
For me, self care is so much broader than pleasurable or sensual activities, personal deportment and other hedonistic pursuits.
Self care is having a deep understanding of, and respect for, your body by serving it with the very environmental inputs that are required for its biological processes to function optimally. Self care is ultimately a fundamental desire to be the best possible version of yourself not only for your own benefit but so that we can be of greater service to others.
It’s harder to be the best mum, employee, employer, wife, daughter, partner or friend you can be when you’re running on half empty. It’s harder to share your unique gifts with the world when you’re struggling with fatigue, chronic illness or degenerative disease.
We ultimately engage in self-care so that we can live our best life to reach our true potential. It’s not the one off activities that bring a fleeting release of feel-good hormones amidst an otherwise largely toxic life, but instead the regular little things that we do each and every day that help build a strong foundation for a long term investment in our health.
Self care for me comes down to nourishing our body every day with the very foods that we as a species are biologically designed to eat that are ethically sourced and properly prepared to maximise nutrient-density and made with love.
Self care is hydrating our body with pure clean water.
Self care is moving our body in the way that it’s designed to move.
Self care is breathing in clean air through our nose.
Self care is living according to the rhythms of the sun and the seasons, immersing ourselves in nature, having a strong reason for living, and feeling deeply connected to a supportive community of like-minded people.
Self care is having fun, playing and taking time out to JUST BE.
Each of these 8 pillars or foundations of health is ultimately how to best care for yourself. When one or more is neglected on a regular basis your health is compromised in some way which detracts from your ability to shine your brightest light and fully engage in the creative process. And we all learn that lesson the hard way. The canaries in the coal mine (recurring colds, flus, headaches, chronic illness, degenerative disease, metabolic issues, PMT, skin issues, digestive issues, infertility, depression, anxiety, dementia etc etc) are simply the messengers that your body is sending you that one or more of these 8 pillars is being neglected. Just being conscious of the symptoms, recognising that they are not normal and being curious as to which foundations need dialling in, is the first and foremost step of self care and thus improving your health.
Self-care is understanding that what we put in and on our body effects the expression of not only our health, but our children’s health, future childrens’ health and our grandchildrens’ health.
Self-care is eschewing toxic foods, conventional personal care products, perfumes, and conventional household cleaning products.
Self-care is saying I GIVE A SHIT about my health, my childrens’ health and the planet’s health.
Self-care is looking beyond the glossy shiny exterior of packaged products and luxury brands with their slick, sexy, alluring marketing campaigns to understand their deleterious effects on the body.
Self-care is not always glamourous. Self-care is making and straining bone broth in your pyjamas, putting on a slow cooked meal instead of ordering cheap take out, cooking organ meats (even if you think they look disgusting) and making the time to have a balanced lunch instead of eating on the run or not at all. Self-care is making a decision to swap out all toxic products in your house, however laborious this process is. Self-care is investing in a water filter. Self-care is foam rolling, walking and stretching even when you don’t feel like it. Self-care is taking the time to sit still to calm your raging mind in spite of your endless do list. Self-care is swapping out those negative thoughts when they arise (countless times a day). Self-care is going to bed early instead of scrolling through your iPhone. Self-care is allowing yourself to be a big kid again by being outrageously silly and playing with your kids and being AOK with the mess. Self-care is having the courage to reach out for help and support. Because we all need it. Self-care is leaning into fear and places that scare us because we know that is how we grow as a person. Self-care is sitting with the acute uncomfortable-ness of the present moment (whether that’s loneliness, fear or unhappiness) instead of self-medicating to escape it.
Like all grand monuments, businesses, and enterprises, it’s the hundreds of little inputs and processes that went into it each and every day over a period of years and decades that all create a lasting foundation that leaves a legacy for future generations.
Self care is ultimately about aspiring for vibrant health - physical, emotional and spiritual. Our hunter gatherer ancestors would have engaged in each and every activity they did for one of these purposes. They nailed self-care because the survival of the tribe depended on the optimal health of every member of it.
There is no greater investment in your health than engaging in real self-care. I drill down into each pillar or foundation of health (or “self care”) in my one on one health coaching sessions or group Food as Medicine talks around Australia. It’s never too late to start investing in your health.
PS if having a bubble bath, colouring your hair, and painting your nails make you feel good, then go for it but please be conscious of what is going into your body. Once you’ve made a decision to do/eat/apply something, then make peace with it because stress is more toxic than the substance you’re putting in or on your body.