Love Your Body | Self-care Series #1

Today is the first installment of the self-care series, and we’ll be focusing on self-care for your body.

First off, what is self-care?

Shine has a great definition: “Self-care is intending, planning, and actually taking the time to attend to your basic physical, mental and emotional needs.”

Self-care takes work.

If I had to lay my finger on the number one reason why many of us don’t prioritize self-care, this would be why: it takes considerable time, energy, and money to take care of ourselves. Who has the time to sleep for 8 hours every night? Or the energy to workout after a long hard day at work? Who has the money to pay for a monthly spa membership?

We live in a busy world, and when the holidays come around, life gets even more hectic. On top of going to work (or job-hunting, if you’re in transition), you have so many other responsibilities: from running to the overcrowded shops to buy gifts that your loved ones will (hopefully) like to preparing the menu for Thanksgiving dinner and actually cooking it. We’re told that this is the season of giving – whether it’s giving our time to loved ones or donating to our charity of choice.

This holiday season, make sure that the first person you give to is yourself.

’Tis the season to invest time, love, energy, and money into yourself. I’m not saying to buy yourself an Audi Q3. I’m saying if you can find the time to whip up a batch of cookies for your kids, you can find the time to indulge in a soothing bubble bath. If you have the money to buy your spouse a $330 iPad for Christmas, you have the money to invest in an $80 facial for yourself. If you have the energy to drive 5 hours upstate in rush hour traffic to see your grandparents for Hanukkah, you have the energy to get up early one day and do a 30-minute yoga workout to release your body of stress and tension.

What I’m saying is: don’t buy your friends and family the world and skimp when it comes to your own wellbeing. You deserve the best that the season has to offer!

It’s so easy to neglect to do the things that recharge us. We take our bodies for granted, especially when we’re healthy. But let your body have the audacity to catch a virus after months of neglect, and you’ll soon realize how much it does for you and how much you depend on it.

Below are 5 simple ways you can show your body self-love this holiday season. Most are budget-friendly. I created a free worksheet to help you plan out your physical self-care routine this holiday season. If you’re a subscriber, you will have received this in your inbox. If not, you can sign up for blog updates. Once you confirm your subscription, you’ll receive access to it.

1. Nourish your body

Putting junk food in your body on a regular basis is like plugging your cell charger into a faulty outlet and expecting your phone battery to charge to 100%. Your body wants to serve you and help you accomplish everything you set your mind to do throughout the day. It’s literally doing everything in its power right this second to keep you alive – filling oxygen in your lungs, maintaining your internal temperature at the optimum 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, killing foreign bacteria that attempt to penetrate into your skin, beating your heart, flowing blood throughout your veins. There is nothing your body would not do for you. Feed it at least one healthy meal a day & hydrate it, girl!

If it’s difficult for you to get all your vitamins and minerals in through whole foods, talk to your doctor about what kind of supplements or multivitamins you can take so your body has the fuel and energy it needs to thrive. Indulge in your favorite treats of the season, but make sure you’re getting your nutrient intake in too.

2. Work out

Did you know it only takes 30 minutes a day to get the optimal benefits from exercise? That’s about the same amount of time as an episode of Insecure. Shorter than an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Exercise boosts your immune system, improves your memory and thinking skills, keeps your body in shape, and regulates your mood overall.

If ever a panacea exists, exercise would be it. It’s like the fountain of youth, a therapist, a beauty secret, and IQ booster all in one.

Popsugar Fitness is my favorite YouTube workout channel. There are endless free workout routines for you to choose from! I start the workout video in the YouTube app on my phone, then beam it to my SmartTv. No need for a fancy gym membership to stay in shape.

And for those days when you’re just not feeling the gym or the YouTube workouts? Bundle up and take a walk! A 2010 study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine found that walking in a forest can be a great form of preventative medicine. Forest environments were found to promote lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), lower blood pressure, and a lower pulse rate.

3. Pamper yourself

This category is the one that most people think of when they imagine self-care. Although spoiling yourself can be expensive, it can also be deliciously fun! There is nothing like a luxurious experience to show your body self-care. Examples of pampering yourself include taking a bubble bath, getting a pedicure or manicure, or getting your hair done.

You could even get a massage or a facial. My favorite self-care pampering routine includes both! I like to get back and scalp massages at Hand & Stone. It feels sooo good. I always leave happy and satiated (and with pillow marks all over my face lol). I also absolutely love facials at my esthetician’s office. Nothing makes you feel quite as regal as having somebody else carefully cleansing, massaging, and moisturizing your face for an hour. You will walk out feeling like a new woman, with glowing skin and a smile on your face.

If you can’t afford to splurge on a day at the spa, do it at home! For my birthday this month, I had a spa party. I invited friends over, we did the 10-step Korean-inspired facials, hand facials, and enjoyed massages.

Pampering yourself can be as expensive or as affordable as you like. And you can do it with the ones you love or enjoy a solitary day of luxury alone. Whatever you do, make it fun!

4. Let the professionals handle what they need to handle.

If you have a niggling tooth ache, a recurring headache that won’t go away, or a sinus infection that you can’t seem to get rid of – it may be time to see a doctor. Thankfully, this is the time of year when it’s socially acceptable to take a couple of days off. So use one of those PTO days to see your doctor for your annual physical or visit a specialist. Throughout the year, it can be easy to ignore these little annoyances, to procrastinate looking after yourself. But this is the time of year that you should release a big exhale and relax. Listen to your body and pay attention to what it’s telling you. It may be time to get some blood work done and make sure that everything’s running smoothly and to nip anything non-benign in the bud.

5. Have a safe space

Everyone needs a cozy space to retreat to. For some people, it’s their bedroom. For others, it may be their favorite little nook by the windowsill in the living room.

If you don’t have a space where you can relax and unwind, create one! I recently purged my entire room of stuff that I no longer needed. I threw away and donated over 6 extra large trash bags of things that did not bring me joy. I was inspired after reading the book The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

After I cleaned out my room, I was inspired to rip up my carpet and finish the hardwood floors underneath. Changing your environment changes your habits, which in turn changes your life. More on that in the next installment of self-care next week, which focuses on the mind.

Think of your body as the model of your favorite car. Every now and then, it’s going to need a tune-up, an oil-change, and some gas put in the tank! Sometimes the engine will start acting up and you’ll need to see a mechanic. You can’t drive a car ragged with zero maintenance checks and expect it to perform well. The same goes for our bodies. Only difference is you can upgrade to a new car when your current model starts acting the fool. You can’t trade in your body for a new one, so treat it with the utmost care, love, and respect.

Your body is just one part of the self-care puzzle. Next week, we’ll dive into self-care for your mind. Til then, be well my dears.

6 Comments

  1. Absolutely loved this article! I’ve found interesting that you have also included a point about seeing a doctor when needed. I feel like our generation is probably better in exercising/eating healthy food and pampering ourselves but sometimes we don’t make time to do a check-up or take a couple of hours off from work to see a doctor. I wonder why? Scared? Lazy? Still hoping for mum to book us a doctor appointment? Busy?

    1. LOL @ still hoping for mum to book us a doctor appointment. you’re so right, millennials are great at living healthy lifestyles! But I have often been surprised when I hear people in our generation say they don’t have regular doctor’s visits. I think one reason unique to American millennials is that we don’t always have continuous access to affordable health care. Our employers typically provide health care. Some employers are generous in covering costs, others not so much. Depending on my employer, my visits to the same exact doctor have ranged from $25 vs $80 – a huge difference! Getting care through the federal marketplace (Obamacare) has definitely improved our quality of life (you don’t need a job to get health care now), but there is still room for improvement. Costs vary wildly.So happy you enjoyed this post!

  2. Julicia! I am so excited about this series; this is something that we all need to practice, during the holidays especially…Are there any quick, healthy recipes you would recommend for holiday season? Also, kudos to you for ripping up your carpet and finishing your hardwood floor! That’s a lot of work.

    1. Hi Brittney! I typically try to meal plan a week in advance. I have a calendar & on Sunday nights, organize what I’ll be eating when. That helps keep me on track. Last night I made these delicious vegan tacos: https://www.rabbitandwolves.com/vegan-crack-broccoli-tacos/In my spare time, I’ve started to scroll through Pinterest and “pin” yummy, simple-looking recipes to my “dinner” board. Then I schedule when I can make them & buy the ingredients. I found that taco recipe on Pinterest.This is another great Pinterest recipe I tried. Sorry they’re all vegetarian hehe:https://daiyafoods.com/recipes/creamy-macaroni-cheese/This coleslaw recipe was quick and yummy and I paired it with burger buns and vegan pork for “Sloppy joes”:https://lovegrowswild.com/2013/05/easy-creamy-coleslaw/I'm happy you’re enjoying the series so far! 🙂

  3. Love this article and it is just in time for the holidays! I love pampering myself during the holiday season while I have some time off from work. It feels good to recharge and reset before the New Year. Can’t wait to read more of this series! Great photos too girl 😉

    1. Thanks love! I love hitting that reset button too & giving my body all the care and attention it needs during this time. 2019 here we come!! ^_^

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