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Self-Care: What the heck is it and how the heck do you do it?

Hey y’ all! Welcome to Love Living Well! I’m Michelle L. Bohn, personal and professional development coach, writer, English Bulldog loving, wellness weirdo, and I teach simple self-care solutions and powerful productivity habits that stick.


Seeing as this blog is about simple self-care solutions, I decided it was a good idea to get things started by answering that question that’s buzzing around your mind:


WHAT THE HECK IS SELF-CARE?


Glad you asked. Because, wow— “self-care” is a hot topic right now. With so many opinions floating around about what self-care is and what self-care isn’t, it can be hard to figure out what it is exactly we are supposed to do to actually practice the thing called “self-care.” One definition, for example, describes self-care as, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health;” and, it is also, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular, during periods of stress.”[1]


Okay? Right. So, which is it? Is it working out, eating mostly salad and getting eight hours of sleep every night? Or, is it curling up with the cat, some popcorn and a bottle of vino to binge watch the entire Scandal series over a long weekend?


The answer is both. According to Clinical psychologist Agnes Wainman, “An activity that feels like self-care in one situation may not in another.”[2] She defines self-care as, “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” So, yes, it is true that exercise is necessary for good physical health and overall wellbeing, it’s just not the only thing that matters when it comes to self-care. But that doesn’t mean that “self-care equates self-indulgence,” personal trainer Sheila Olson explains; rather, “a balanced self-care routine incorporates fitness with other mindfulness, rest, and relaxation techniques.”[3]


SO HOW THE HECK DO YOU DO IT?


So how the heck do you do it? The good news is, a quality self-care practice doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Sure, book a massage or join a yoga class if you have the means to do so. But, seriously, it doesn’t have to be all that and the designer yoga pants.


SELF-CARE CAN BE SIMPLE


Some of the best self-care practices are simple and easy to work into a regular routine. According to Wainman, “The key to self-care is to actually connect to [your] experiences and really be in the moment with them.” For example, listening to and acknowledging your body’s basic needs, such as hunger or sleep, instead of ignoring them is easy self-care. It’s as simple as grabbing a healthy snack and hitting the hay 30-minutes to an hour earlier (Every. Night. Okay? Got it? Good.).

So, how do you establish a good 7 to 8 hours a night sleep routine? First, you need to decide when you need to wake up in order to be on time for your day. Then, determine what time you need to go to bed in order to get 8 hours of sleep. According to Rachel Hershenberg, Ph. D., in A Jump-Start Guide to Overcoming Low Motivation, Depression, or Just Feeling Stuck, “a good way to make a permanent change to your sleep time is to work in 15-minute intervals” (30). So, say you determine that you need to go to bed at 10:00 PM in order to get a full 8 hours of sleep but you are used to going to bed at 11:00 PM on most nights. Well, then you would start working toward your new bedtime routine by going to bed at 10:45 PM for the first few nights and then move your bedtime back another 15-minute interval to 10:30 PM for another few nights.


Self-care can also be as simple as flooding your brains and bodies with oxygen by breathing deeply for 60 seconds periodically throughout the day, and by simply drinking your recommended daily amount of water. In addition to being two simple self-care solutions that you can easily fit into your daily routine, these two practices are also proven stress reducers. That’s right, according to The American Institute of Stress, “breathing is a stress reducing technique that evokes our body’s relaxation response.”[4] And, water, good old H2O, well it is just actually essential fuel for all of our organs. According to Amanda Carlson, RD, “staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down.”[5] Proper hydration helps to reduce cortisol which is a stress hormone in the body. So how much water do we really need per day? According to Gina Shaw, “you should try to drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water for every pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day.”


So, how do I get my recommended daily water supply? To begin with, I start my day by downing 10 ounces of water right way. How do I know it’s 10 ounces? Simple. I use a mason jar. They’re great for measuring things; they’re also excellent for keeping fruits and veggies fresh in the fridge.


For water on the go, I really love my big 20 ounce RTIC Tumbler. Water stays nice and icy all day long—AMAZING! It’s also a great bedside water cup. Its nifty lid keeps the cat from sneaking drinks from my cup while I’m sleeping.


To add a little flavor to the H²O party, the Hydracy Fruit Infuser Water Bottle is a great choice. I like it because it’s 32oz, and it comes with an insulated sleeve, which make it great in the office as well as for outdoor activities. The Hydracy bottle is hands down the cherry on top of a lunchtime picnic in the park. Hands down.


Self-care is also as simple as turning off everything with a screen, picking up a book or a current edition of your favorite magazine, and heading outdoors for few minutes. Dr. Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., “Spending time outside can help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, and be more mindful. Studies have even shown that getting outside can help reduce fatigue, making it a great way to overcome symptoms of depression or burnout. Getting outside can also help you sleep better at night, especially if you do some physical activity, like hiking or walking, while you are outside.”[6] Choosing a book instead of your cell phone “can also help you to stay more present and mindful,” Dr. Davis explains. She also recommends adding books on self-care to your self-care routine, “so that you can learn more about how to take care of yourself while you are taking care of yourself.” Here are some of the self-care books I have added to my library:

EATING HEALTHY IS SIMPLE SELF-CARE


Eating healthy is simple self-care. Let me repeat that. Eating healthy IS simple self-care. It’s really not that hard. And, it does not have to be nothing but bird food, rabbit food gross. But seriously, you need to eat at least 10 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day for the best nutritional benefits. 10! No joke. According Dr. Dagfinn Aune, in a study conducted by Imperial College London that was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, five servings of fruit and vegetables per day is good, but 10 servings a day is even better. This study found that eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day led to a:

  • 24% reduced risk of heart disease

  • 33% reduced risk of stroke

  • 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

  • 13% reduced risk of cancer

  • 31% reduction in premature death

Now, if optimal health is just not enough to get you motivated to eat your fruits and veggies, would more money in your bank account make that vegan burrito for lunch look better? Research shows that 70% of wealthy people eat no more than 300 calories of junk food calories per day. They know that food is fuel and they need to feed their bodies with the best fuel possible in order to have the energy and clarity they need to live their extraordinary lives. What does that mean? It means, wealthy people are driving past the fast-food burger joints and wing spots and choosing for healthier options so they have clearer minds and more energy to finish their work-day, and keep to going strong in the evening for quality time with their families.


Okay, I know some of you are a little freaked out right now. Especially those of you who may not be big fruit and veggie fans. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered with a super simple way to get a HUGE variety of fruits and veggies in your body every single day. Like 30 different vine ripened fruits and vegetables every, single, day.


Send me an email or DM. and I will a happily send you info on how I eat a whopping 30 vine ripened fruits, veggies and berries on the daily.


Now, if you are eating your recommended servings of fruits and veggies, you are probably going to be cooking (or, at the very least, assembling). To help you get started, here are a couple of my favorite go-to books:

MAINTAINING A DAILY SELF-CARE ROUTINE


Finally, it is HUGELY important to schedule your self-care into your daily routine. I know. Your schedule is busy and everyone always seems to need something from you. I feel you my friend. I really do. But, Dr. Davis explains, “it’s extremely important to plan regular self-care time. Moments alone can help you to ponder the best ways to move forward in your life and keep you grounded. And moments with friends can help you feel more connected and relaxed.”


Really. Do this for yourself. Get a good planner and block time to take care of you. Including time for self-care at the beginning and end of my day has had a massive impact on my personal wellness journey. Incorporating Self-Care Sundays into my weekly routine has had powerful impact on my personal productivity and progress toward my personal goals.


CONNECT TO FREE RESOURCES


I hope this article has helped you discover some simple self-care solutions you can add into your daily routine. For more simple self-care solutions, EMAIL ME for your FREE copy of Seven Simple Self-Care Tips, and follow me on Facebook at LOVE LIVING WELL and on Instagram at @mizbohn.

[1] Self-care. “The definition of self-care in English” Lexico Powered by Oxford. retrieved 10 May 2020 from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/self-care [2] Tartakovsky, M. (2018). “What Self-Care Is (And What It Isn’t).” Psych Central. Retrieved on May 10, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt/ [3] Olsen, Sheila. (2019). “Balancing Exercise, Relaxation, and Rest for Effective Self-Care.” Positive Health Online. Retrieved on May 10, 2020 from http://www.positivehealth.com/article/stress/balancing-exercise-relaxation-and-rest-for-effective-self-care [4] Marksberry, Kellie. (2012)“Take a Deep Breath.” The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved 01 June 2020 from https://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath [5] Shaw, Gina. “Water and Stress Reduction: Sipping Stress Away. What's the link between water and stress reduction?” WebMd. Retrieved 01 June 2020 from https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/water-stress-reduction#1 [6] Tchiki Davis. (2018). “Better Care of Yourself Exhausted, uninspired, or unwell? Read these self-care tips to take care of you.” Psychology Today. Retrieved 06 June 2020 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201812/self-care-12-ways-take-better-care-yourself


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