I saw a headline on a news page the other day, “Why Self-care doesn’t mean ‘Day-Spa’”.  I didn’t read the article, but I had a little chuckle. I feel that sometimes in our consumer world, everything has become a commodity, a money-maker, and that includes the very important rituals of self-care.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with spa treatments, a lovely massage, and a bit of retail therapy, but the effect of those things tends to be temporal, short-lived.

So what does self-care mean for me?  I’ve broken it up into four parts.

Physical wellness. This sacred body is the only one available to me, and I want to be fit for purpose.  I sit a lot in my job, but I want to always be able to walk where I need to, run if I have to, and be able to put on my own shoes when I’m an old man!  Physical wellness is subjective – but we need to ask ourselves if our meatsuit needs some tending.

Spiritual wellness.  I think it is incredibly important to observe ritual and have a spiritual practice.  Take the time to smell the coffee – literally! – when you make a cup in the morning. Touch a tree as you pass it and give it quiet thanks.  Take 5 minutes before you go to bed to be thankful for the day you’ve had.  Look into a family member’s or friend’s eyes and tell them you love them.  Meditation, be it a daily sitting practice or a contemplative walk in a quiet garden or forest, is fuel for life.  2020 was a real drain on all of us, and slowing down and being grateful for your breath is a wonderful step in reclaiming some harmony.

Intellectual wellness. Our brains need food too.  My reading list has gotten a little out of hand this last 12 months, and I know this is something I need to discipline myself around.  Reading for pleasure and for stimulation take different kinds of energy and provide different types of nourishment.  Scintillating conversations with friends about topics of interest serve to sharpen our wit and practice empathy.

Social wellness.  We are social animals, you and me.  Although I crave ‘me-time’ and alone-ness sometimes, I also know that cultivating and tending to friendships, looking after my relationships, and contributing to my neighbours’ and community’s well-being all make me stronger.  This communion with others is one way to feel part of something larger, something tangible and meaningful.

Looking after ourselves has to be more than external – it has to nourish us from within, make us feel safe, worthy, and content. What can you do differently this year in terms of self-care?  What worked for you last year that you can continue?  You’re worth it! Now, excuse me – I have to go make an appointment for a mani-pedi.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if the above article resonates for you in light of your own situation.

Photo by Jorge Garcia on Unsplash

In my kitchen I have a collection of teapots which includes a red pot just like this one. Sometimes, when the mood takes us, we make a pot, sit in the garden, and watch the plants grow. Laughing, looking, waiting, imagining. I find the combination of garden, tea, friendship, and in-between-time, a wonderful combo for self-care and wellness. 

Disclaimer: This article contains the views of the author and is not a replacement for therapeutic support. Please reach out to a registered therapist if you are experiencing distress and require assistance.