Self-care is a hot topic in the health and wellness world, and unfortunately it seems it has become another thing that we are made to feel guilty for not doing enough of. Despite what social media tells us, self-care is not always luxurious or extravagant. Real self-care consists of the everyday decisions, actions, and sometimes hard work, one puts into taking care of themselves.
A powerful way of enhancing your own self-care routine and improving your overall wellbeing, without adding more to your to-do list, is by practicing mindfulness.
Let’s get clear on what mindfulness is and then take a look at how mindfulness can enhance self-care.
Mindfulness is a state of being in which we pay full attention to the present moment, noticing and engaging with everything that is happening in both your inner and outer worlds. In addition, we try to bring the attitudes of flexibility, openness, and non-judgement to our experience of the present moment.
It’s safe to say that most of us spend the majority of our time lost in thoughts about the past or the future, and thus disconnected from the truth of our current experience. We act out of habit rather than conscious awareness. This is what you might call ‘mindlessness’. When we do this, rather than maintaining full present moment awareness, we live a surface level version of our life and skim past the finer details.
When we aren’t being mindful or maintaining a conscious awareness with our present state, it affects our health, our relationships, our work, our mood, and just about every other area of our lives. The positive benefits of practicing mindfulness are countless. Each day, more and more scientific studies are demonstrating the lasting impact of mindfulness on our health and wellbeing.
How exactly is mindfulness linked to self-care?
A crucial component of self-care is awareness; awareness of what our ‘self’ needs. However, as mentioned previously, most of us are often not aware or in tune with ourselves because we are so distracted by our external environment. We have an overload of demands placed on us daily and for many people, their mind feels out of their control.
We can’t engage in effective self-care if we don’t know what we need. If we spend most of our time in autopilot mode, reacting to our environment often out of habit, and are extremely busy all the time, how and when do we stop to look deep within ourselves to know what we truly need?
If you are a part of the select few who are already using self-care strategies to enhance your overall wellbeing, I invite you to consider bringing more mindfulness to your self-care routine. Feel the difference when you are fully immersed in the experience of being with yourself in those moments, without the common distractions that take you away from the fullness of that experience.
In many areas of our lives, we are all very reactive to our environment. In the domain of self-care, we often react once the physical signs of ill-health are apparent. For example, we may begin to explore healthier ways of eating after noticing the recurring visible signs of a poor diet on our skin. However, the mental and emotional signs of poor self-care or ill health are not as visible as the physical symptoms, which is why we don’t always attend to them. If we bring mindfulness to our daily self-care we can become more proactive rather than reactive. Being proactive means we give ourselves what we need for optimal health and wellbeing without having to wait for symptoms to show up.
They say that good self-care is giving yourself what you need when you need it, but great self-care is giving yourself what you need before you need it!
How often do you pause to check-in with your mind, body, and soul?
To be able to improve our wellness and maintain a regular, beneficial self-care routine we need to have the insight and awareness of what we truly need. Then, once we have this information, we can consciously choose with mindful awareness how we will respond to this information in the best way possible.
A short, daily reflective practice is all you need to start improving your self-care and feel better more of the time. This could be quietly pausing to drink your morning coffee or tea whilst you notice how you are feeling, or alternatively pausing each night before bed to note down or journal about what is happening in your mind, body, and soul.
The way I bring mindfulness to my self-care routine is by checking in with myself each morning as I have my morning tea, using the Daily Self Check-In Exercise. (You may have heard me discuss this exercise or even tried it before. If you haven’t, simply join the SSFL email community to receive the free guided audio.)
In addition to a daily reflective practice, see if you can do ALL of your self-care practices with more mindful awareness of your experience during each one. This means that if your mind starts to wander into stories or thoughts of past or future events, gently redirect your mind’s attention to what is happening right now. Use your senses to engage with ad experience the present moment more fully.
Why not start today and add more mindfulness into your life to improve your wellbeing? Pause now and check in with how you are feeling. Next, engage in a self-care activity of your choice and do it with as much presence and mindfulness as you can.
A simple shift can make the world of difference, bringing you closer to improved wellness and feeling good more of the time.