September is Self-Care Awareness month

Put yourself in the picture!

September is National Self-Care Awareness month—a month devoted to one of the most important things you can do for your health: prioritize your own well-being.

Self-care is not about being selfish; in fact, quite the opposite. Self-care is about investing in and maintaining your most important asset: you!

Just as airline passengers are advised to put on their own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else, taking care of your own needs is the foundation that enables you to have strength and energy to care for others. Self-care is also key to maintaining your health for the long haul—and we’re all in it for the long haul, right?

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the importance of self-care as a critical public health measure. When individuals take good care of their own health, they reduce the pressure on healthcare resources like clinics, hospitals, and emergency rooms. Interestingly, WHO has chosen July 24, or 24/7, as the day to observe International Self-care Awareness Day—because that’s when self-care is important: 24/7.

Rather than give you a list of self-care tips, I thought I’d suggest taking stock of all of the things you may ALREADY be doing to care for yourself. (All of these are from my Inspirations, available on this free app and also included in their entirety in my books Creating a Healthy Life, I and II).

Give yourself credit if you regularly:

Honor yourself. (Respect your choices and give yourself credit for the unique being that you are.)

Be thrilled with who you are. (There’s literally no one else like you.)

Let others help you. (Life is way more fun that way.)

Surround yourself with happiness. (You deserve it.)

Make your house your home. (That way, there is at least ONE place you can go to relax and be yourself.)

Think of yourself as royalty, not poverty. (As you believe it, others will too.)

Give yourself permission. (There’s really no one else you need to ask.)

Be yourself; don’t emulate. (Better to be the one and only you than an imitation someone else.)

Forgive yourself. (Making mistakes is part of growth. Love your imperfections!)

In addition to these emotional self-care items, it’s important to care for your unique physical body. Give yourself credit for any of the following self-care items you practice:

Eating your water. (It’s the best way to stay hydrated, inside and out.)

Moving your body daily. (Bonus points if you do it joyfully, with others, and/or in nature!)

Managing your stress. (Through yoga, meditation, journaling, deep breathing, walks in nature, exercise, or any combination that works for you.)

Getting yearly check-ups. (These are still the best way to catch anything amiss early on.)

Wearing moisturizer and sunscreen daily. (To protect your skin—your body’s largest organ and its first line of defense.)

Brushing and flossing your teeth. (Infections can start in the mouth, which is close to the brain, linked to the heart, and besides, a smile is the best facelift.)

Getting twice-yearly dental check-ups. (See above.)

Taking prescribed medicines. (You know why.)

Spending in-person time with family and friends. (Community is one of the best stress-reducers and a key to longevity.)

Getting plenty of sleep. (Rest is your body’s superpower.)

Unplugging at meal times and before bed. (24-hour connectivity is one of the biggest contributors to Cultural Stress.)

Hugging often. (Touch is essential to human wellness. Hugs trigger release of the bonding hormone oxytocin, which reduces stresses and floods your body with wellbeing. Hug a human if you have one handy and willing; however, a pet is also good.) And don’t forget the healing power of

Treating yourself to a facial, a massage, or mani-pedicure. All three of these combine skincare and stress relief, and they can all make you feel like a million bucks.

If you can check more than half of the items above, give yourself a hug! You’re already practicing good self-care.

Want to do more?

Here are 8 of my best tips for intentional self-care:

  1. Include yourself in your goals for the week. In fact, list your personal goals first. They’re not an add-on you’ll get to if you have time. Start your day and your week with at least a few moments devoted to you.
  2. Start at the beginning. By that I mean, be intentional about your first waking moments. The transition between your unconscious sleep state and your conscious awake state is very susceptible to what you put in it. Just as you might be mindful of the first thing you put into your body in the morning (I drink a glass of lemon water), I highly recommend making a positive thought your first of the day. It might be a thought of gratitude: “Another day! THANK YOU” It might be an affirmation: “May I be at ease and on purpose today.” Or perhaps you’d like to remind yourself of one of my Better Every Day Inspirations, such as, “Each day is an opportunity to grow.” Or “Allow happiness to enter.”
  3. Take steps in advance that will support easing into your first waking moments. That might mean setting an alarm so that your first thought of the day isn’t “Oh no! I’m late!” It also might mean changing the alarm from an angry buzzer to a more soothing wake-up call. You might also choose your clothes, load the coffeemaker, and prepare your lunch the night before so that you have time to treat yourself well each morning.
  4. Include moisturizer and sunscreen, whatever your skincare routine. After all, your skin is your body’s largest organ, its front line of defense, and keeping it hydrated is key to keeping it healthy. Rather than rushing through this ritual, acknowledge it as a form of self-care.
  5. Do what you love. What are you passionate about? What inspires you to get up in the morning? I believe that making time for our passions is the ultimate form of self-care. Luckiest of all are people whose passion is also their profession. Nevertheless, even if going to work doesn’t mean indulging your passion, be good to yourself and make a date with your passion at least once this month! Remember, you are the only expert when it comes to your own self-care.
  6. Splurge often. Treating yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. A walk on the beach, an ice cream with a friend, or canceling your to-do list and sleeping in can all be forms of self-care that probably won’t break the bank.
  7. Don’t feel guilty about saying ‘no.’ Sometimes saying no to others is the only way to say yes to ourselves. It’s OK to set boundaries. In fact, it’s essential. Boundaries are like cell membranes. Without them, the cell’s contents would leak all over. People who care about you will understand. In fact, you’ll be giving them permission to do the same when they feel the need to. As a good friend of mine used to remind me, “Your yes means nothing if you can’t say no.” Try practicing it as a form of self-care!

Again, forgive yourself. These are tips, not obligations. If they don’t work for you, don’t feel guilty about saying no!


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