True self-care is important for maintaining balance and well-being. More people are now recognizing that self-care is not a luxury — rather it is a necessity. Advertisements for self-care encourage eating healthy foods, treating oneself to a new beauty product, relaxing at an extended weekend get-away, and other nurturing and enjoyable activities. Yet lasting self-care requires something else.
Learning to prevent and reduce the stress from today’s speed of change and uncertainty, while maintaining emotional balance and poise, is moving to the top of the list of self-care necessities. Optimizing our mental and emotional energy expenditures is often an overlooked aspect. By learning how to plug emotional energy drains, we renew our resilience and self-security as we move through daily challenges and experiences.
Here are some typical mental and emotional energy drains where we can apply more self-care and experience numerous benefits right away.
Whether in social media, during workplace conversations, or at social gatherings, we drain emotional energy when we measure our success or happiness based on someone else’s life. When comparing our life to others, we generally don’t get the whole picture anyway. We see what is outwardly presented but we don’t always see the inner struggles, worries, anxieties or insecurities in others. The energy we use on comparisons and self-criticism can be more effectively spent unlocking our own higher capacities. Comparisons are tempting but with genuine heart intention, we can guide ourselves around these energy sink holes.
Applying self-care would be to first become mindful of our comparisons and self-critical thoughts. Then from our genuine heart, we can practice rising above these lower feelings and replacing them with self-respect for who we truly are – and this magically opens the door for inner guidance in becoming our best and happiest self. Our core self has the heart power to change all of the mental, emotional and physical habits that block us from the higher capacities that our spirit provides when we are ready. Our genuine heart’s commitment can quicken this readiness.
Forgiveness and moving forward without carrying old emotional luggage is essential to our well-being. It’s important to remember that forgiveness is a win-win situation where all parties come out. It’s one of our most intelligent acts of self-care. Maintaining grudges, resentments and separation creates a continuous drain of energy and, unknowingly, clouds our joy and compromises our health. A wise person once said that holding onto resentment is like allowing someone to live rent-free in your mind. It’s obvious that some issues will take longer to release than others so be patient and approach forgiveness from the heart with ease. Practice on smaller issues and then move on to the more challenging ones. This heart-intelligent practice will yield numerous self-care benefits for increasing mental and emotional happiness and physical health. Some of the hardest things to do in life turn out to bring the highest return on our investment.
We often ask children to show compassion to one another, but rarely do we tell them to have self-compassion. In our society, extending compassion to oneself is often seen as self-centered, even self-indulgent, and to be avoided. Take for example, the countless occasions when a parent comforts, encourages and unconditionally loves the son or daughter who has disobeyed a rule, done poorly in school, gotten into a scrape or otherwise has shown poor judgment in something else. Where is it written that encouragement and compassion are reserved only for others?
Denying ourselves compassion when we fail to live up to our own or others’ expectations, deprives us of the healing power of this comforting feeling of self-care. Increasing our self-compassion by understanding and forgiving ourselves – following an angry outburst, failing to qualify for a job, overeating, or making a mistake – really is okay. It’s an act of heart intelligence which helps us to re-balance our system for quicker recoup.
Self-compassion is an advanced step in anyone’s self-care practices. It provides a regenerative energy that serves as a tonic for our cells and our overall operating system. Self-compassion also opens our heart to intuitive solutions and support for the best ways to handle life’s situations.
To practice self-compassion find a quiet place some where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes. Then imagine breathing self-compassionate care into your mental/emotional nature and into your physical cells. Do this for a while—like you would radiate warm care to others whose energies were down. Most importantly, do this from the heart. As you become familiar with the practice, it will begin to feel as if you are interacting with a best friend who truly cares, understands and supports. If for no other reason, do it because is smart, like adding a warm heating pad to ease certain body pains. Self-Compassion is legal self-care.