What?! There are different types of self-care? Absolutely! In order to stay balanced, you need to explore and develop a variety of ways to take care of yourself. Jump start your physical self-care routine today.
What?! There are Different Types of Self-care?
While my husband fought for his life, I thought I had a self-care routine in place. I never considered that different types of self-care will have different results. For example, I spent a lot of time reading to take my mind off long doctor visits, emergency rooms, and the black unknown.
But I failed to keep up my physical self-care routines once Pedro transferred from a local hospital to one a thousand miles away. I had all kinds of excuses. Running in a city would choke my lungs. Trails around Bozeman didn’t give me shin splits, but sidewalks in San Francisco would. I didn’t have pepper spray. My running shoes didn’t make it in my suitcase.
I figured climbing the stairs to the eleventh floor of UCSF Parnassus at least once a day counted for physical self-care. Did I mention the pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin scone clutched in my hands as I huffed and puffed up the stairs?
I kept up my journal writing (more or less), and read a Bible verse most days. But I spent my creativity on bidding for Longaberger baskets on eBay. Don’t judge. Baskets hold things and it takes a creative eye to find the right ones.
Kind friends gave me gift certificates for a massage a time or two, and I took care of myself by cashing in on the offers. But for the most part, I ignored my needs because Pedro’s needs squeezed me like a lemon press.
I brought water, played Uno, reported new symptoms to doctors or nurses, scrounged for clean gowns or bedding on the weekends, fielded inquires from worried family and friends, located appetizing food, fought with insurance companies, parented long distance, and uttered desperate prayers.
The results of this type of self-care routine for me proved disastrous. Pedro faired better.
There ARE Different Types of Self-Care
Pedro recovered from his catastrophic case of cancer. He had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with Central Nervous System involvement. The survival rates in 2003 hovered around 15%. Within a year of his stem-cell transplant, he regained most of the 60 pounds he had lost, and most of his mobility.
The 60 pounds I’d gained during his illness still clung to me a year later. I felt lethargic and depressed. The types of self-care I practiced didn’t do much to take care of me.
It took a decade for me to recover from Pedro’s nine months of cancer. I didn’t have wonderful self-care habits before cancer struck. Maybe because I grew up in an era where Supermoms reigned.
Society told me I could work full time, parent full-time, help out at my local church, do community service, keep my house clean, cook nutritious family meals, stay in shape, have a near-perfect relationship with my husband, and have well-behaved kids everyone loved.
Yeah, right. But I believed it, which left me with no time for regular, healthy self-care.
Now that I’ve gained granny status, I’ve also acquired a bit of wisdom about different types of self-care.
We (especially women) need to take care of ourselves. I’ve divided the four types of self-care into four categories. Just think of MAPS, because maps always help you find your destination. The acronym stands for the types of self-care we should all focus
If You Don’t Choose, You Lose
If you don’t choose to start practicing healthy self-care, you will lose—and not the good kind of losing, either. You’ll lose your peace of mind, your self-esteem, your physical health, and your spiritual anchor.
Balance plays a key role in the types of self-care. When I only nurtured my need for reading and escape, the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of my life suffered. Realizing I needed to make changes meant accepting the changes would take time. The process of focusing on multiple types of self-care would help me grow stronger in all areas.
A word of caution, though. We don’t turn into puffy couch potatoes overnight. Likewise, we can’t expect instant results when we start a journey towards better physical self-care. As tempting as comparing your progress with someone else’s progress might seem, don’t do it.
Just as mental, academic/artistic, and spiritual wholeness take time to achieve (and require frequent adjustments and tune-ups), so physical wholeness takes time as well. Have patience with the process. Life is a journey, not a destination.
Everyone’s journey to better self-care starts in a different place (and that’s ok). Maybe you start a walking routine because a counselor or magazine article touts the benefits to your mental health. Perhaps you want more energy to pursue an academic or artistic endeavor. Maybe you realize you long for the ability to chase after your kids (or grandkids) without feeling as if a coronary event might clothesline you.
My defining moment occurred when I saw a photo a school yearbook student snapped of me. I looked frumpy, grumpy, and overwhelmed (despite the smile on my lips).
The woman in the photo looked like the mom who couldn’t keep up with her teenagers. I knew I needed to make changes in my physical self-care routine if I wanted to enjoy the next stage of my girls’ lives.
How to Start Your Journey to Better Physical Self-care
1. Take a self-inventory.
- What do you hope to accomplish by increasing your physical self-care?
- Improved health?
- Weight loss?
- More energy?
- Better habits?
- Setting a good example for your kids?
2. List ‘em. Make a list of your five worst health habits. Be brutally honest with yourself. You know what they are, no one needs to point them out to you. We all have them—even healthy-looking people.
3. Assess the list.
- Circle those things you can tackle on your own. Get more sleep each night, for example.
- Underline things you’d want to do with a friend.
- Star items you’ll need professional help for (quitting smoking or other life-threatening habits).
4. Just do it!
- Set your alarm to go to bed earlier.
- Figure out what you can cut out of your day. Social media? Candy Crush?
- Phone a friend and schedule a regular hike or walk together.
- Call your doctor and make an appointment for a thorough health screening and share your list with the doctor.
5. Give yourself a system of goals and rewards. We need extrinsic motivation to start better habits. Over time, the intrinsic reward of the new behavior will replace the need for extrinsic motivation.
“While intrinsic motivation is often seen as the ideal, both extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation are important ways of driving behavior.”Kendra Cherry
6. Banish discouragement. When you feel like giving up because progress doesn’t happen overnight, remind yourself that it WILL happen.
- Use positive self-talk such as, “I can’t run a mile yet, but I will be able to as my health improves.”
- Avoid self-talk filled with absolutes such as, “I’ll never lose this weight (or any other goal).”
From Frumpy to Fit
My journey to improve the types of self-care I practiced has lasted years. It took about 10 months to lose the extra 60 pounds I put on during Pedro’s cancer. Now I do crazy things such as hike from the rim to the river and back to the rim of the Grand Canyon in one day and chase my toddler grandson around.
Of course, every journey has a few detours, and at times I have gained back some of the weight and lost some of my conditioning. But I know that my best self always develops when I move forward. Because forward movement creates forward momentum.Forward movement creates forward momentum–take your first step to better self-care today! #SelfCareSunday #selfcare Click To Tweet