Every day, our medical doctors, therapists, friends, and family ask us, “What are you doing for self-care?” I’m not negating that self-care is not essential; it is!
But how we look at it is different for everyone, and there is no set pattern of what, how, or when to do it. Sometimes, we compare what we see others doing and see it as the “go-to” definition. For some, self-care is a moment of relaxation, sitting in a quiet room doing nothing or reading a book. For others, it’s getting the ten loads of laundry done that have been sitting for a week or waking up to a clean kitchen in the morning.
What it looks like is not important. What is important is how one feels after slowing down; the breath becomes steady, and the mind is clear. Even though the world is loud, one can be at peace in a moment of pause.
Nutrition and soul care are two self-care levels that should be discussed more often. However, both are essential for a well-rounded level of daily functioning. In addition, both encompass internal intention with an external reward.
What we internally digest affects our moods, energy levels, and cognitive functioning. Nutritionally speaking, what we eat is crucial to our mental health. Eating a balanced diet nourishes our physical bodies and our nervous system, providing our brains with high levels of functioning. A healthy eating lifestyle high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Likewise, what we feed our soul nurtures our spiritual and emotional well-being. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives that we miss enabling the critical component that brings balance.
Soul care is how we care for our souls, just as we care for our bodies through exercise and healthy eating.
Soul care is a form of self-care that flourishes best when utilized daily. Soul care will develop differently for everyone, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Some enjoy finding peace in prayer or meditation, while some enjoy mindful walks in nature or journaling. The key is to remain centered and grounded in whichever activity we choose.
Practicing mindfulness is a soul-care tool that involves being present in the here and now and not criticizing our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Practicing gratitude is another soul-care action that, when practiced daily, improves our mood. Taking time to reflect on three things we are grateful for each day and writing them down can increase happiness and reduce depression.
Practicing self-compassion is an essential part of soul care. We acknowledge our imperfections and mistakes by treating ourselves with kindness and understanding. This builds self-worth, opens avenues for learning, and improves self-awareness.
When someone struggles with mental health challenges, practicing soul care can help them reconnect with their true self and find peace and purpose. Furthermore, community is vital when facing these challenges, as loneliness creates an overwhelming sense of isolation. Connecting with others brings a balance of support and empowerment.
When we are intentional in what we input into our body, mind, and spirit, we go beyond an action. We are signifying a conscious choice to live a purposeful life. It will require self-reflection, focus, and commitment to aligning our actions with our values and goals. The external reward is unlocking our full potential, forging meaningful connections, and embarking on a journey toward personal growth, success, and improved health.