By Alex Bruce/Special to The News
Although it might seem paradoxical to what we may have been taught in the past, in order to take good care of others, we must first take good care of ourselves.
It is a simple law of nature that if our resources are spent at a pace that is faster than their accrual, depletion occurs.
Thanks to specialists and experts such as Dr. Kristin Neff, we now know that there is nothing selfish or self centred about you caring for yourself.
In fact, although it may seem counter intuitive, the plain truth of the matter is that the more we care for ourselves, the more we have available to care for, and offer to, others.
Self-care is in all actuality the opposite of selfishness.
When we are hungry, tired, stressed, or in pain, most of us experience negative states of mind that do not put us in the optimal arena to provide proper attention to others.
Hence the term, “hangry.”
Taking good care is all about ensuring that we each have the capacity to properly carry out our daily duties.
While we each have different ways of replenishing our energy stores, many are universal.
First and foremost is ensuring to get enough sleep.
Adults need between seven and nine hours of quality sleep per night, and children and adolescents require approximately eight to 10, and possibly more.
Proper sleep keeps our bodies and minds functioning at full capacity and starting a day without it equates to starting our day at a disadvantage.
There are many things we can do that are conducive to a good night’s sleep, such as keeping the sleep space as dark as possible and avoiding technology at least two hours before going to bed. (Both of these measures increase the body’s levels of melatonin, a hormone that aids in both falling asleep and staying asleep.)
Cutting back on alcohol may be a good option, too, because even though alcohol may help one fall asleep, it has been found to disrupt sleep patterns and may lead to wakefulness during the night.
Taking good care also includes eating enough healthful food, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough movement and exercise to nourish your body.
Additionally, it’s about ensuring that your mental, emotional, and spiritual needs are taken care of, as well.
Perhaps you can really relax when you take time for a warm bath, a hot shower, or a good book.
Maybe you’re refreshed after some time alone, which could include reading, writing, drawing, gardening, knitting, or just contemplating.
Some people are soothed by music, programs that make one laugh out loud, or baking.
Others unwind through watching a game uninterrupted or having enough time to cross a couple of things from their to-do list.
Maybe now is the time to start meditating or practise breath work (we’ll cover both of these in more detail in upcoming articles).
Nobody knows what will help promote your mental and emotional health, and replenish your energy stores more than you do.
Give yourself permission to take good care of you, so that you have the ability to provide support for others.
You deserve it much more than you give yourself credit for. Take good care.
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– Alex Bruce is a health and wellness author and accredited meditation and mindfulness instructor
• Stay tuned tomorrow for the next COVID-19: In It Together column
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