As you embark on your journey to becoming more deeply connected, take a moment to consider and tend to your basic self-care routine and physical needs. By paying attention to these early on, you will experience a much more dramatic and rapid transformation. It’s a critically important territory that’s often overlooked!
Everyone has a different priority when it comes to self-care, but most people will find that they function at their best with proper nutrition, a moderate amount of exercise and adequate sleep. These three areas are universal needs, but in our busy modern culture, most people admit to feeling dissatisfied with one or more of these areas of their lives.
So Why Do We Struggle With Self-Care Routines?
From a psychological perspective, it makes complete sense that diets fail, New Years’ exercise initiatives fade and that in general, we struggle to take good care of ourselves or make necessary positive changes. If we had unlimited time and resources, it might be easier to accomplish our goals. But what often prevents us from sticking with a healthier self-care regimen (besides our tendency to take on too many changes at once and become overwhelmed) is that we don’t have a deeper “why”… a meaningful reason underlying the goal that is both intrinsically rewarding and self-sustaining.
What Happens When You Disconnect With Self Care?
The usual way we cope with and rationalize any areas of poor self-care is to disconnect from our bodies. Most of us go through our days oblivious to a range of symptoms that our bodies are trying to communicate to us. We block out the signs, stop paying attention, and are unable to differentiate our bodily needs consistently. We often crave sugar when we’re sleep-deprived, and drink coffee when we’d be better off with a power nap, for example. The result is even greater disconnection from ourselves, and unhealthier physical states.
Finding Meaning In Your Self-Care Goals
As with so many other aspects of life, you can’t conquer any area of well-being unless you know what you stand for. If your “why” is weak, you are likely doing it for the wrong reasons – such as reasons other people have given you – and your efforts will eventually peter out. You need to have your own system of belief around the various aspects of well-being and self-care.
Developing personal awareness of what you both want and need when it comes to self-care can open the door to a more connected life. By understanding our own belief systems, we can create sustainable, positive lifestyle changes that are intrinsically rewarding to us, and leave us feeling the joy of knowing we are attending to and connecting with our most essential needs.
How To Find Your “Why”
A successful self-care routine is one that’s meaningful and realistic for you. So try asking yourself the following questions. They could prompt some self-investigation and guide you back toward designing a self-care routine that works for your life.
What matters the most to you when it comes to nutrition? Could it be weight loss, maintaining energy levels, or adhering to a lifestyle choice like vegetarianism? What does your body ask of you, and how do you tend to respond?
Do you have any allergies you’re not acknowledging, or any food symptoms you suspect may be allergies? This could include bloating, headaches, low energy levels, and skin changes. Is your body trying to tell you something?
Is sugar, caffeine or alcohol an issue for you? Are you suppressing or denying anything in yourself when you consume these things?
Are you willing to explore different methods of eating to understand what suits you? For example, are you in touch with how your body feels when you eat carbohydrates, as opposed to proteins?
If you tend to have grand ambitions that you can’t follow through on, ask yourself if there’s a space between what you think is achievable, and what is actually practical when it comes to exercise. How can you close that space and become more realistic in your goal setting?
Do you tend to push yourself too hard one day, then end up too tired to complete your movement plans for the next day? Do you know when enough is enough, or understand the other signs that your body gives you during movement?
Are your movement and exercise goals in line with what you enjoy? Do you spend your time doing movement activity that’s fun, or does it feel like a grind? Ask yourself how you can nurture more meaning in your exercise routine.
How are your sleep patterns? Do you understand how many hours of sleep you need each night and do you honor your needs?
What makes you sleep well? Are there any routines you can start up to better your sleep? (For example, turning off screens an hour before, or having a warm bath before bed.)
Why do you struggle to make sleep a priority, and how could you adapt your situation, lifestyle or behavior to welcome more “rest” time in your life?
Consider Self-Care Through The Lens Of Connection
When you analyze your self-care routine through the lens of connection, you’ll find yourself able to tap into the intrinsic motivation you need to make huge breakthroughs. By honoring yourself with a series of small acts every day, you send powerful messages that you do matter, that your needs are significant, and that you are worth the time and attention needed to take good care of yourself.
Try thinking of self-care as an act of self-love, and a way to be closer to yourself, more involved, more intimate, and ultimately more connected to yourself. Properly tending to your body’s basic needs is a fast-track way to repair and build up your sense of self-worth – one of the most important pillars of authentic self-connection.
You could also think of it as an essential step toward improving your connection with others – as your best self, you will be more open and available for authentic connection to the people and causes you most care about. It’s a totally new approach for most of us.