Taking care of ourselves is essential. It is also affordable – time, energy and cost-wise.

The self-care industry is an estimated $10 billion industry, but not everything we do for self-care would cost us exorbitant prices (e.g., like the that massage you may enjoy under a beach umbrella overlooking the sea at a beautiful beach resort we didn’t know we needed, until we saw it).

In my previous employment, I worked with helpers who took pride in demonstrating strength and resilience in their bodies and minds. I found myself always reminding people I meet in the organisation to take care of their own needs. If we constantly draw upon our reserves, we need to consistently fill them. Before, while taking care of others and after. If not, it might be too late and we may find ourselves burning out – it would take longer to recover. 

“Self-care is an ethical imperative” said Karl D. LaRowe, a trainer whose workshop I attended some years ago on compassion fatigue. I completely agree. Self-care is not a reward, nor a delayed gratification. We should take care of ourselves, for us and everyone around us. 

In this post, I will be discussing practical self-care tips that you may consider, that would take less than 15minutes and cost you $0. (If you have more time, energy and you are willing to spend some money, imagine the choices you can make, based on your own preferences!) I will propose 5 areas we could nourish, for overall wellness. Imagine self-care as having 5 tanks to fill for your overall effectiveness. 

What is Self-care 

Two definitions that encapsulate what I think self-care is about:

Self-care is deliberately taking care of your well-being through restorative activities… Self-care is showing up for yourself.

Susannah Joy Winters at a Tedx talk

Self-care reflects a choice and commitment to become actively involved in maintaining one’s effectiveness.

Karl LaRowe

Self-care is like a collection of activities – some are pleasurable and restorative activities that we know we enjoy; some are activities that require self-discipline and some we may not be used to doing or have yet to try. All in the name of nourishment, restoration and effectiveness. 

When we set an intention to take care of ourselves consistently, when we intentionally commit our limited resources of time, energy and money to take care of ourselves, we are also saying that we matter.

Different types of self-care 

Physical Self-care: Nourish your body 

We can take care of our bodies by having a balanced diet, doing physical activity, nourishing our senses and having good quality sleep. We can work on our self-management like personal hygiene and budgeting. We can look after our own physical space, our habitat. 

Eat more omega rich foods like nuts and fatty fish, avoid foods with trans or saturated fats in omega. Move your body. Take care of your senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Make good quality sleep your priority. 

Suggestions for nourishing thy body: Less than 15mins, $0 

  • Take a break from whatever you are doing, go for a short walk outside. Find a spot where you can breathe in fresher air or smell a flower. Feel the breeze or the sun on your skin. 
  • Shut down your phone and any electronic devices that are fighting for your attention. Spend 15mins and be quiet. Rest your sensory organs. 
  • Use a free app that you can use for short guided meditations for better sleep. (I love using Insight Timer.)
  • Identify a spot in your habitat that has been bringing a frown to your face. Put on a timer and tidy it as much as you can for 5 mins.  

Spiritual self-care: Nourishing your soul 

Taking care of our spiritual health does not equate to practising religious rituals. Certainly, if you have a religious faith that you practise, (re)connect with it. But it actually is about connecting with anything that affirms our personal beliefs and values: reading a book, volunteering, finding out about other people’s religious or spiritual beliefs, spending time to review and (re)evaluate our purpose and meaning in life, where we add value to others. Embrace our humanity and practice self-compassion. Cultivate self-love.

Suggestions for nourishing thy soul: Less than 15mins, $0 

  • If you see value in doing this, pray. There are many types of prayers. Find one that meets your current spiritual needs. 
  • Listen to a song that is good for your soul.  
  • Meditate. Or simply do mindfulness breathing and use this space to connect your mind, body and soul. 
  • Exercise an act of kindness: have eye-contact and say thank you, show appreciation to someone you meet and give a compliment. 
  • Express gratitude to yourself and give yourself a hug. 

Emotional self-care: Nourish your heart, your energy

Taking care of our emotional needs could mean becoming more attuned to them. Finding a means that allows emotional expression that can help us be more in harmony with energy that arises in our bodies, whether it is sadness, joy, frustration. You could move your body with the intention to release your pent-up feelings like run, dance, progressive muscle relaxation. Writing helps too. You could indulge in artistic expression too like playing on a musical instrument, listening to songs that resonates, colouring, or painting.  

Suggestions for nourishing thy heart and thy energy: Less than 15mins, $0 

  • Find a space where you feel safe and move your body to the feelings you are experiencing. 
  • Listen to songs that resonate with what you are feeling.
  • Sing out loud.
  • Do a mindfulness body scan. 

Intellectual self-care: Nourish your mind  

Taking care of our mental health would mean taking care of how we think in our minds and how we talk to ourselves. Catch thinking patterns that are unhelpful and challenge them. Encourage yourself and lift yourself up. Address habits like rumination and harsh self-criticisms. Let our mind rest. Learn something new whether a new idea, a new skill, through reading books or watching documentaries or movies. 

Suggestions for nourishing thy mind: Less than 15mins, $0 

  • When you notice you are ruminating (i.e., continuously thinking about the same thing), break the cycle by doing something that distracts you for at least 2 minutes. 
  • If you have a journal, use it. If not, find a piece of paper. Write everything that is on your mind. Anything that comes up, just write it out. At the end of 15mins, close the journal, or crush the paper and let it go.  
  • Watch a TED talk.  
  • Get a book from your local library and read. 

Social self-care: Nourish your relationships 

Taking care of our social needs means building better and more authentic connections with people you care about, people who inspire you or people who make you feel whole and safe. It means reaching out when you feel lonely or isolated. It also means accepting your limits, knowing when to say no to people without compromising your own needs. It means learning to state your boundaries in a graceful yet assertive way. 

Suggestions for nourishing thy relationships: Less than 15mins, $0 

  • Play a board game with your loved ones. 
  • Phone someone whom you can speak to and have a good laugh.  
  • Take 15 mins and delete or unfollow people whose posts make you feel drained or angry. 
  • Read up on “how to say no”. Practise it.

To conclude

I hope this post has gotten you too think more about self-care, in a more wholesome way. I also hope that discussing the 5 different areas that we can exercise self-care can help you review some aspects of your lives that your tanks could be running low or dry.  

A blogger, Dominee, whom I follow has a fantastic website Blessing Manifesting dedicated to all things self-care. You can also follow @BlessingManifesting on all social media platforms.

Just got fun

Also, I thought of a simple analogy that may help you visualise the concept of self-care better, with a proxy that is close to our hearts in Singapore – money. 

Layperson View of Singapore Fiscal Policies My Concept of Wellness 
We budget our money based on priorities. We budget our resources (time, energy, money, etc) based on people and tasks that are important to us. 
We have infrastructure (systems, policies, projects) in place to help us generate revenues. We plan for a rainy day. We have a general plan that we follow to take care of ourselves (our body, mind and soul) so we continue to have resources (time, energy, money, etc). 
We have expenditures to take care of the country and its people: repair, maintain and improve for the future. We use our resources for ourselves and others – for fixing old and current problems, for going about with our daily lives and stressors and for helping others.  
If we are involved in a bigger community (immediate family, extended family, friends, colleagues, etc), we use more resources.  
The quality of our output depends on how we use our resources. 
In normal times, the revenues can offset our expenditure, even creating surplus that we can put into our financial reserves. In normal times, if we follow our plan to take care of our bodies, minds and souls, we experience harmony and even generate enough resources to have a better quality of life. 
In times of crisis, we can draw on past reserves to tide us over until we can rely on a better infrastructure to meet the demands of a new normal post-crisis. We can’t help every single person in the best way but we try to ensure overall survivability of the nation and its people.  
If we didn’t have past reserves, we may become bankrupt, there will be more suffering and it will take a longer time for recovery.  
In times of crisis, we draw on our resources at a bigger and faster rate. We try to take care of ourselves and others, with what we have. 
If you had not been taking care of yourself, your wellness and that of people who depend on you may become more vulnerable. 
As simplistic comparison

Tell me what you thought of this post 🙂 Peace out, my lovelies!

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