I won't hold you in suspense. The secret to health that nobody is talking about is self-care. Sorry, it is not a magic pill. Nope. Real health that is strong, vital, and vibrant requires effort. It requires doing things that aren't sexy. Things like self-care.
But what do I mean by self-care? I mean taking the time out of our busy schedules to do things for ourself and no one else. Things that are relaxing and rejuvenating or maybe things that are silly and fun. This looks different for each of us. For me, self-care looks like taking a bubble bath, cooking a really nourishing meal, or snuggling with my cat as I read a good book. For you, it may look like getting a massage, puttering in the garden, or taking a nap. It doesn't really matter what we do as long as it restores us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The point of self-care is to prioritize your needs.
But what does self-care have to do with my health? Well, it boils down to stress. Regularly engaging in self-care will lower your stress levels and reduce the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream. If you have ever experienced a prolonged period of intense stress, then you know exactly how detrimental high cortisol can be. It zaps you of your strength, energy, vitality, mental sharpness, and joy.
Seems simple enough doesn't it? More self-care leads to less stress, which leads to a healthier, happier me. Well, then why aren't we talking about this? And why aren't we doing it?
The first reason is that we, as a society, invest our self-worth in our productivity. If we are not busy checking things off our to-do list, then we are lazy and worthless. This idea is so pervasive and intrinsic in our society that we don't even question it. We don't stop to think and wonder about its validity. We just accept it and keep our nose to the grindstone. When we do try to take a break or a vacation, we often experience paralyzing shame. We feel so bad about not being productive that we don't let ourselves truly relax. This is something I struggle with. When I try to take a break from work, I experience this mental tug-of-war. I feel like I have not earned the right to do something fun or really relaxing, so I try to do something else productive like wash the dishes or clean the bathroom or do the laundry. But when I return to work, I am not refreshed so I have a hard time getting my work done, which I feel terrible about. It just creates this whole unproductive cycle where I can't work and I can't relax. You know exactly what I am talking about.
The second reason we are not talking about self-care and we are not doing it is because we believe it is selfish. This is especially true for women. Self-care is a word loaded with shame for women. As women, we are made to believe that we are only truly a woman if we are taking care of other people. This often happens at the expense of ourselves. We are forever prioritizing other people's needs above our own. This is what it means to be a women for many of us. So to put our needs first feels wrong, selfish, and unwomanly.
But if we want to enjoy health that is strong, energetic, vibrant, and joyful, we have to work through these limiting beliefs. We have to prioritize our needs and not just once in a while. We need to do it regularly. So here is your challenge. You are going to commit to doing self-care twice a week. Once needs to be physical self-care and once needs to be mental/emotional self-care. Physical self-care may include exercise, eating healthy food, massage, sauna, or whatever else may nourish your body. Mental/emotional self-care may include doing something fun, meditating, connecting with a friend, talking to a counselor, engaging in a hobby, or whatever else will help you relax or bring you joy. Self-care can be big things or small things, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that you are prioritizing your needs.
Post in the comments how you are going to start incorporating self-care into your routine or share how prioritizing self-care has transformed your life and health! I would love to hear from you. And you never know who you may inspire!
If you want to learn more about stress, how it impacts your health, and what you can do to restore your vitality, then watch my free workshop. Click here to get access.
I'm Dr. Carly and my mission is to create a health revolution. I believe that another prescription is not the answer. I believe in using natural therapies that go beyond the symptoms. And I believe that doctors should spend way more than 7 minutes with a patient.