Proactive self-care: The ongoing practice of taking care of yourself, your WHOLE self, mind, body and soul, every day. It’s the decision (self-responsibility) that we make to nourish, recharge, and care for ourselves often in lieu of pushing through, striving for, and “doing more”. It’s giving ourselves permission to pause and replenish regularly (not just when we need to), without judgement, critique or criticism. Proactive self-care can be as simple as eating lunch away from your desk, going to bed by 10pm, asking for help with the dishes, or as lavish as a phone-free meditation retreat in New Zealand. For me personally (this is different for everyone), proactive self-care is being radically honest with myself about what is and isn’t working, establishing clear and healthy boundaries, and mindfully adhering to my daily “non-negotiables”. In other words, it’s actually doing the things that help me feel my best like nourishing my body with nutrient dense foods, practicing yoga to keep me sane, and spending time away from work (regardless of my ever expanding “to-do” list), daily.
What proactive self-care currently* looks like:
*Because this is apt to change.
For my mind...
Proactive self-care looks like waking up before the rest of the world to spend time with myself, alone. It’s reading good books, indulging in creative pursuits and not checking email every single day. It’s focusing on one thing at a time, getting outside in nature (regardless of the forecast), and surrounding myself with inspiring people that make me a better human being.
For my body…
Proactive self-care means doing yoga or some other type of physical activity, daily. It means tuning in, actively paying attention and listening to my body for exactly what it needs. It’s sleep, at least 8 hours, it’s real food, lots of greens, currently it’s no sugar (with the exception of figs and dairy-free ice cream), and it’s lathering my skin (and hair) in coconut oil even when I’m feeling “lazy”.
For my soul...
Proactive self-care is saying thank you, often (including the moment I wake up). It’s the beach, it’s meditation, it’s regular chats with this beauty, it’s mandatory tech-free time, and sometimes (depending on the season), it’s a totally mindless t.v. show. It’s also endlessly searching for the miraculous within the mundane, compassion, flexibility and although it’s never perfect, it’s giving myself the freedom and space to not work when I think I “should be”.
This kind of proactive self-care, ie. the act of putting small, simple, daily preventative measures and feel-good activities in place to care for our whole selves, prevent and avoid burnout is very different than reactive self-care, which is, in response to burnout. (Because if you don’t slow down by choice, life will make you slow down by force, ie. illness, injury and other life altering interruptions.)
What does self-care currently look like for you? Is it proactive or reactive? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Share your practices, your rituals, your struggles, and how you feel when you actually tend to you.