When you think of Self-Care, what is the first image that comes to mind? Is it a vacation? A massage? Time with people you love? These are wonderful things.

Self-care? Maybe later. 

Now, once you visualize these things, how quickly do you take action to make your day dreams happen? Or do feelings of fatigue and procrastination immediately derail your plans? If you can relate, then it’s likely that you are lacking in one or more of three fundamentals of Self-Care.

The 3 fundamentals of Self-Care are Sleep, Nutrition and Movement.

Catch some zzzzs

Sleep is important. When you sleep your body heals, recovers and integrates the information that you learned during the day.  Lack of sleep is a primary cause for reduced brain function. This manifests as poor short-term memory, brain fog, mood changes, anxiety, depression and reduced motivation.  When your brain is not functioning optimally, then finding the motivation to make healthy decisions is hard to find, in addition to being overwhelming.  Transformation does not happen with a sleepy brain.

Don’t skip a meal

Nutrition is important in order to feed your body’s system with the essential nutrients and minerals to survive and perform optimally. Skipping meals or fuelling your body with unhealthy options in the short, or long term can have negative effects on your metabolic rate, energy levels, body composition and stress levels.  Transformation does not happen with a nutrient deficient diet.

But I walked to my car.

There is movement, and then there is moving well.  Moving well means you’ve moved for at least 20 minutes continuously.  This is enough time to get out of your head and into your body.  Movement, no matter the method releases endorphins which are the “feel good hormones”. Healthy movement is the antidote to mobilizing fear, stimulating creative flow, improving physical strength, flexibility, brain function and more. I think that’s called transformation!

Need a vacation?

The key to understand here, is that when you are sleep-deprived, hungry and sedentary you are STRESSED. Sleep, food and movement are basic metrics to keep the body happy. If you are missing any of these daily, then the stress response is automatically triggered.  Chronic stress leads to the development of chronic illness and morbidities like high blood pressure, obesity, Type II diabetes, Thyroid dysfunction etc.

Hijack Your Stress Response

The secret to Self-Care then is making sure that your body isn’t stressed by taking inventory of the three fundamentals. Of course, there are many other triggers of stress that exist.  Even during other stressful events, your resilience to these factors will be highly dependent on the quality of sleep, food and movement that you’ve committed to at any moment in time.

Perspective

Self-Care doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

Simply ask yourself three questions:

  1. Did I sleep well?
  2. Did I eat well?
  3. Did I move well?

Did you?

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The perfect example of something that totally wasn't planned. When you are present, you notice the beauty in things. In my case, hearts show up in my food. This shot was taken as my husband and I went on a road trip for our 4 year wedding anniversary. A heart showed up in my take out burger.

If there is one thing that I can take away as a lesson from the year 2010, it would be that nothing is certain.  Every year I write a list of goals that I plan to achieve.  Well this year I’m not doing that. I’ve learned that in life, things will unfold at the rate that they should and no matter how prepared you are, what you envision will not manifest if it is not the right time.

This may sound a bit pessimistic at first glance, but in fact it is not. For as far back as I can remember I’ve written lists and I’ve pretty much ticked off a lot on those lists with great efficiency. Some would say that my list is quite extensive, but my “A-type” personality disagrees. Nevertheless, I’ve evolved from a rigid list maker to one that throws her hands in the air and says, “Just let it be”.

Within the past five years, I’ve experienced many transitions in my personal, family, academic and career life. That’s just how I am. Life is not stagnant and I am grateful for that. During each transition, the degree of uncertainty can overwhelm myself and the lists fly out.

Well, no more lists for me! I vow to relinquish control so that life is much more enjoyable and meaningful.

I will be present, be grateful and take a leap of faith. (I guess I just made another list).