Why is Self-Care Important?
Taking good care of ourselves requires more than just an occasional mani-pedi or treating ourselves to new shoes, a massage or a girl’s night out. Taking good care of ourselves requires us to listen to ourselves and to really hear what our bodies, our minds and our spirits are asking for on a separate and intuitive level.
When we practice intuitive self-care and take care of our bodies, minds and spirits separately, we become a happier and healthier whole. There’s a lot of focus out there on integrating the body, the mind and the spirit, and while it’s true that we function best as fully integrated beings, in order to truly integrate all facets of our beings we need to begin by separating the three components of the self and learn to intuitively listen and respond to what each part needs.
Taking Care of our Bodies
The body itself is an organism. All organisms are biologically hard-wired to preserve themselves. Our bodies have a multitude of self-preserving reflexes, instincts and behaviors, and it’s completely natural and desirable for the body to preserve and protect itself.
odies can experience cravings when they are running low on various minerals, such as iron or other nutrients. Pica is the term given to pregnant women who are deficient in certain minerals and crave things such as mud, dirt, plaster, ashes or who have the compulsive need to lick the walls. Physical cravings help us eat the kind of foods that our bodies requires to sustain themselves. On the flip side, when we eat something toxic, our bodies react by vomiting and ridding themselves of the offending substance.
Our bodies also know how much and of what kind of food they can digest at a time. If we eat something that is difficult to digest, our bodies may tell us to stop by sending us an “I’m full” signal, but if we eat foods that are easy to digest, we may not feel full as quickly. Similarly, depending on our activity, hormonal, immune and stress levels, there will be times when we are more or less hungry.
The intuitive wisdom is there; it’s just that we lose touch with it. As children we may be told to “clean our plate,” or that we “don’t have to like it, we just have to eat it,” which teaches us to override our bodies intuitive wisdom. As adults, making decisions for ourselves for the first time, we waltz into life feeling like naughty little children whose parents are out-of-town. We make one bad choice after another simply because we can, and we are rarely encouraged to get back in touch with our intuitive wisdom. Add in the demands of a modern life with careers and families, where we are relegated to eating on an arbitrary schedule that had nothing to do with the needs of our body, and our body’s intuitive wisdom is quieted and ignored.
Taking Care of our Minds and Spirits
Our minds and our spirits have the same kind of intuitive wisdom that our bodies do, telling us exactly what they require in order to flourish. When we listen to and respond to these three, distinct voices, all parts or us remain healthy and fulfilled, but when we ignore our own intuitive self-care wisdom, illness, injury, depression and other problems manifest.
When we are not practiced at separating the needs of the body with the needs of the mind or the spirit, we misinterpret the signals we receive and we end up feeding the body what the mind and the spirit are asking for. The mind, just like the body, is a self-preserving organism that craves what it needs. Minds need stimulation, comfort, love, excitement, growth and development. When faced with a difficult or a sad time, the mind might crave sweetness, comfort and love.
What do we REALLY Need?
Instead of reaching out to people or situations that provide the mind with sweetness, comfort or love, we misinterpret these signals and we attempt to feed the body what the mind is asking for. We ingest sweetness, comfort and love in the form of mac and cheese and ice cream.
We don’t physically need mac and cheese or ice cream, what we need is a good dose of mothering and a time-out from adult responsibilities, but because we aren’t hearing and responding to that which our mind truly need, we attempt to fill ourselves up with as much sweetness, comfort and love as we can by ingesting mac and cheese (a symbol of comfort and love) followed by ice cream (sweetness personified).
Do we need a bit more spice or bite in our otherwise dull lives? We may crave spicy foods, salt and crunch. Feeling stifled at work, a lack of stimulation being home with toddlers or craving a project to sink our teeth into? When we don’t listen and respond to what our minds and spirits are telling us they need, we eventually start eating whatever it is our minds and spirits desire!
Are we craving those gooey cinnamon rolls because we have just run a marathon, our muscles no longer have any glycogen stores and we are on the verge of passing out, or are we craving them because we are unfulfilled in our current position at work and we want something juicy and gooey to sink our mind into? Are those licorice sticks giving us something to chew on because our mind has something to process that we are ignoring and refusing to process?
Our bodies, minds and spirits are filled with intuitive, self-care wisdom and when we are connected enough to listen and respond to what they tell us they need, will are happy and healthy on every level. But if we don’t listen, or if we misinterpret the signals, we set ourselves up for sub-par health and happiness.
This is intuitive self-care, and this is the ultimate goal. Separate the needs of the body from the needs of the mind and the needs of the spirit. Stay present in every moment and learn to listen and respond to the needs of the body, the mind and the spirit, remembering of course, that there’s always room for a mani-pedi, new shoes or a nice massage!
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