Self-care: More than Manicures and Bubble Baths

We have all heard about the importance of taking time out for ourselves-our “self-care.” Don’t forget to schedule that manicure or take time for a bubble bath. While these things are definitely important, self-care is so much more than this. It’s about listening and tuning in. Listening to the clues and messages our bodies and minds give us about the type of care we really need. 

Self-care is our fuel to keep us going. When we aren’t caring for ourselves, there is no way we can show up for anyone else with one-hundred percent. I like to think of several “buckets” for self-care. These buckets could be something like 1) physical health 2) relationships 3) emotional/mental 4) nutrition and 5) boundaries (saying “no”). You can pick YOUR own buckets as well. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where is my energy going?
  • Where do I want it to go?
  • What needs to give so that no bucket goes empty?
  • What is your mind/body telling you?

When we tune in, we hear. Let’s dive deeper into those buckets of self-care.

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Physical Health Self-care

For many of us, the day to day routine does not foster our physical health. We sit a lot and we are really busy! Carving time out for movement takes intention and planning. But think about it, when have you ever exercised and regretted it. Rarely! Do you find joy (even a little) with your physical activity? If not, go find it. Your physical self-care will be much more sustainable when you are moving in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore. 

How about your sleep? Do you wake up feeling rested? Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep on a regular basis and when we are sleep deprived (chronically or acutely), we suffer. Take a close look at your bedtime routine and assess if anything can be adjusted to improve your nightly rest.

Relationships & Self-care

Being surrounded by those that love and support us is crucial to our health and well-being. When we feel the support from people around us, we feel good and we do good. Do you have someone you can call if you need to vent, cry or just shoot the breeze? Even the most introverted humans need relationships and human connection. 

Emotional & Mental Self-care

It’s no secret we are in the midst of a mental/emotional health crisis. Are you taking time for some self-reflection? Are you in need of professional help to work through the stress and anxiety of life at this moment? Don’t wait. Find a therapist (via in-person, an app or support group) and do the work.

Our emotional and mental health drives all of our behaviors. When we are wrapped up in our struggles we can become stagnant and other healthy routines can fall out of balance. It’s hard to eat well, exercise and have quality sleep if we are feeling down. We all have those seasons, some much more than others, and finding tools to support our emotional and mental self-care is key for our overall health. Take some time to relax, laugh and look for those small moments of joy even in the really hard times. 

Nutrition Self-care

This is about using food as fuel for our physical and emotional bodies.  As a Registered Dietitian, I believe that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. This includes the wine and the chocolate chip cookies, I promise! Here are some specific ways to implement nutrition self-care. 

  • Savor your meals and slooooooow doooooown. By eating slower, we can really enjoy being present with our food. We are also less likely to overeat and feel poorly about it when we eat slower. 
  • Be flexible. By allowing yourself to have a variety of foods, you take away the guilt and shame of certain food choices. Choose foods you enjoy that also fuel your body. Forget the food rules that only leave you feeling worse about yourself when you break them. That begins a shame spiral and almost always ends up leaving us feeling worse.
  • Eat foods you love with the people you love too. We are ALL emotional eaters. We eat in joy and celebration as well as sadness and stress. That’s normal and OK.

By eating the foods we love with loved ones around us, we connect and fill up our cups. Food has the ability to bring people together, create memories, and nourish us all at the same time. Try planning a meal with someone you want to see and enjoy the heck out of the WHOLE experience-food included! Here’s your permission!

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Read more of Trending Northwest’s September 2022 Issue articles below!

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Boundaries Self-care

This is a big one! We really need boundaries as a part of self-care. Boundaries are necessary at work, with those around us and with our schedules. Do you take breaks at work? From social media and technology in general? From parenting? From your responsibilities? Part of having healthy boundaries is also saying “no”. It’s OK to politely decline a social invite or to tell your boss your plate is full and can’t take on that extra project. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burned out, chances are your boundaries have been crossed. It’s likely time to re-establish boundaries as a part of your self-care. 

I’d challenge each and every one of you today to commit to changing ONE thing this Fall about your self-care practice. Decide on that thing, write it down and be intentional. You deserve it! 

Monika Jacobson

After growing up in the Inland Northwest, Monika Jacobson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at Washington State University. She moved to the west side and worked as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in a myriad of settings–from luxury health clubs, to coaching athletes with sports nutrition, to home health clinical nutrition and various start-ups in Seattle-focused scientific wellness and genetics. After moving to Spokane with her family, she created Eat Move Thrive-Spokane because she wanted to transform people’s lives by teaching them how to make healthy food taste good. At Eat Move Thrive-Spokane, Monika teaches adult and kid cooking classes (online and in-person) and coaches clients one-on-one with their wellness goals centered on nutrition. She discusses how stress, sleep, hormones, and overall mental health affect the decisions we make about food. 

Read all of Monika’s articles here.

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