lifestyle

The Importance of Self-love and Self-care

February has long been dedicated to celebrating our love of others. But this year, it's time to flip the script, and turn some of that loving energy back on yourself. As that old airplane wisdom goes, you must secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. Because if you don't take care of yourself, you can't possibly take care of those important to you. Here are three ways to show yourself some love this and every month.

Be Kind in Deeds

The longest and deepest relationship you will ever have with another human being is with yourself. That's why it's so important to make space in your life for your own self-care. Some of the best ways to care for yourself are very basic in nature:

Man riding bike in the mountains

  1. Eat foods that make your body feel good. Your feel-good foods will vary depending on your unique physiology, but it is universally true that each of us has certain foods that make us feel light, nourished, and energized, and other foods that leave us feeling heavy, moody, and sluggish.
  2. Move in ways that please you. The human body was made to walk, run, jump, skip, dance, roll, twist, and stretch throughout the day. If exercising is difficult for you, stop calling it exercise, and call it movement instead. You may not like working out, but surely there's some form of movement you enjoy. Do that.
  3. Sleep till you're finished. Sleep is your body's time to rest and regenerate. When you consistently deprive yourself of this vital medicine by startling yourself out of sleep with an alarm, you speed up the aging process. Since rest before midnight is considered most regenerative, aim to be in bed by 10. Netflix will still be there tomorrow.

Be Kind in Words

Being kind to yourself starts in your mind, by examining how you talk to yourself. Most of us are so used to the narrator in our heads engaging in constant commentary on our lives that we don't even consciously register what it is saying. Start paying attention. You might be surprised at how cruel it can be.

Zen Buddhist monk Cheri Huber advises that you not try to squelch that critical voice. It's going to do what it's going to do, regardless of what you tell it. The real trick to countering what she calls the judge inside your mind is to cultivate an inner mentor. Your inner mentor says all the wonderful things you wish someone else would say to you. So, if you try a new sport and the judge says, You're terrible at this! you teach your inner mentor to come right in and say, I don't care whether you fail or succeed, I'm proud of you for trying. Actively cultivating an inner mentor can deeply transform your relationship with yourself, allowing you to feel more joy and ease in your everyday life. 

Turn to Herbs

When everything in this culture is urging you to forever do more, it can be difficult to slow down. Sometimes we need to turn to Nature to help us find our rhythm again and rediscover our innate vitality. Here are some of the best herbs for that purpose.

Bumble bee on St Johns Wort Flowers

  1. Herbs that help lift you up. Part of self-care is attending to your internal world. If you are feeling blue, St. John's wort is a wonderful ally in your quest to feel better. This herb has a rich history of use for supporting emotional health.* Gaia Herbs offers St. John's Wort as a single herb and also as the star of Mood Uplift, a blend of herbs that helps foster a better outlook on life.*
  2. Herbs that help calm you down. Nothing will wear down your body systems quicker than stress. Two premier calming herbs include Kava Kava and Skullcap. Kava Kava supports normal relaxation from tension brought on by daily stress, while Skullcap helps nourish the vital capacity of the nerves.* Both are available from Gaia as single herbs.
  3. Herbs that help you cope. Some stressors are avoidable, and some aren't. One class of herbs has the unique ability to help your body adapt to all of them: physical, mental, emotional, and environmental.* They're called Adaptogens, and they include such herbs as AshwagandhaRhodiola rosea, and Holy Basil (also known as Tulsi). Gaia Herbs offers all three as single herbs and in a powerful combination formula called Adrenal Health Daily Support that promotes a healthy response to stress.*

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It's critical to your well-being and that of those around you. Filling your own cup gives you the happiness and energy to be a more loving spouse, a more fun parent, and a more engaged friend.