Here at Digital Nomad Health, we encourage developing self-care habits that are sustainable and don’t create a lot of internal resistance in our patients.
For some, self-care is accepting their current conditions; for others who have progressed past that point, it’s about developing self-care habits that don’t create extra stress. Instead, they help you feel better in your head and in your body.
Taking Small Steps
Habit changes are powerful, but they require a thoughtful approach. We know what we want the end result to look like – less stress, better sleep, less anger, better blood sugar control, more muscle mass, less alcohol intake – but we must get there safely.
Small steps towards self-care are a more successful approach than major changes. Think back to the last time you stuck with something big. But when was the last time something small, like hanging your jacket after coming home, stuck with you?
Accepting What Is
Byron Katie says that you have to love what is and accept what is. From this place, it’s much easier to make progress because the alternative is resisting what is actually happening, which creates a lot of necessary suffering.
Accepting how things are now meant letting go of the resistance, internal dialogue, self-deprecation, and negative thoughts, loving yourself, and accepting yourself fully.
We can only do what we can with what we have. In this current moment, when you are at your weakest, perhaps you can only do a little, and that’s okay.
Habits > Willpower
As Jason beautifully states in his article on self-care, it’s easier to make it through the day with habits than overcoming willpower.
If you’re the person who never drinks alcohol in awkward social situations, then it’s much less likely that you will get wasted because of social anxiety – that’s a habit.
If our patient’s dietary intake is a habit of eating whole, minimally processed foods, potato chips aren’t a point of contention. They can be there, but the habit is to put the nuts or carrots in their mouth over the chips.
5 Self-Care Habits Worth Developing
1. Be Kind
Be kind to yourself if developing self-care habits is your priority! Understand that you’re human and habits are complex neuropathic connections to build. Doing anything long enough will make it a habit.
When you don’t accomplish what you set out, be aware of the negative self-talk
2. Check In With Yourself
What is it you really need right now? Is it the money from doing the extra work, rest, and mental health? Sometimes, the answer is clear, but the sacrifice seems too great. Saying no is hard, but the consequences are rarely as bad as we think.
Checking in with yourself is a powerful self-care habit to learn. Am I full? Am I tired? Do I need another glass? Am I overworked? Did I get enough activity this week?
3. Track Symptoms
In order for a habit to stick, it’s helpful for it to serve a purpose. If you can take note of when you get bloated and crampy when you have a late-night pizza, then the next time, you might just remember that before digging in.
Becoming aware of our bodies and their function is important because they work quite differently from others. The person who eats a keto diet and thrives is miles apart from the person whose body shuts down if they don’t get enough fruits and vegetables or a heavy carb load before a demanding task.
4. Prioritize Habits
Sometimes, we assume that what is most important is clear; “I should exercise more!” But if you don’t have the bandwidth to even get enough sleep, exercise is more poison than salvation.
Self-care habits should be based on what we need to feel whole, improve wellness, have a sense of connection to those around us, and feel nourished.
5. Avoid Perfection
The one time you heat up a styrofoam cup in the microwave or you want some food off of a plate with a bit of dish soap won’t harm you.
Avoid perfection and instead make mostly good decisions and give yourself room to adjust to your new habits.