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Elements of Self-Care

Elements of Self-Care

As part of our community wellness effort, I am reprinting a blog post on self-care with permission from a colleague. Michele Crawford, is a Community Health Educator for University of Illinois Extension in Cook County. One of her areas of interest is self-care. In her role as a Health Educator, she has come to learn that many humans, and especially those who provide care for others either personally or professionally, take care of everyone else first, often neglecting their own self-care.

As we enter this new year, it may be a good time to think about the statement that flight attendants always say about oxygen when preparing to take a flight. We need to put our oxygen masks on first in order to be any good for those that we are traveling with. The same holds true in life. We need to take care of ourselves in order to be of help for those that we are trying to take care of: children, parents, a spouse, family members, friends, whomever it may be. Here is one of Michele's self-care blogs called Elements of Self-Care.

There are many different elements or facets to self-care. When I think of self-care, I immediately think of taking care of myself physically. I know for me personally, part of practicing self-care is eating right and getting some physical activity every day.

I appreciate Kristin Souers' model of what she calls the "Top Four Components of Self-Care" which include health, love, competence, and gratitude. Her components challenged me to think a little outside of the box when thinking about self-care. Let's break each one down:

Health – 40 minutes of exercise, at least three times a week. The idea here is to just keep moving! Remember, exercise nurtures our mental health as well as our physical bodies.

Love – Do whatever you need to make sure you feel happy and rewarded for being the special person you are. Give yourself praise! Acknowledge your strengths, skills and goals as well as your fears and peculiarities. Celebrate what makes you uniquely YOU!

Competence – Make it a priority to challenge yourself. We all have comfort zones and research shows that learning happens just outside of those zones. You will find these challenging experiences will increase your confidence and overall sense of competence. Examples here might be starting a new hobby, going to a movie by yourself, making a new friend, or speaking up in class or a meeting. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like!

Gratitude – The thankful heart is the open heart. The more we acknowledge gratitude and find the silver lining in life, the happier we tend to feel. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to acknowledge all you have to be thankful for. Simply take a few minutes at the end of each day to write a list of five things which you are grateful.

These components are just one way to think of self-care. We will continue to explore other models. I hope this post encourages you to explore at least one new aspect of self-care!

If you found this article on self-care helpful and are interested in learning more about self-care, the Refill Your Cup with Self-Care blog is intended to offer ongoing support for those interested in the practice of self-care. This support includes exploring just what is self-care, why it is so important, as well as offering tips and techniques anyone can add to their self-care toolbox.

What do you do for self-care?  Leave us a message and share.

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