by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
If you’re like me, self-care tends to drop to the bottom of your to-do list. Job workloads, home maintenance, family or caregiver commitments, volunteer, faith-based and social activities. Things can pile up like an immovable mountain.
MEDICAL BENEFITS FROM SELF-CARE
According to an article published by The Pharmaceutical Journal, “Self care has been defined by the Department of Health as ‘the care taken by individuals towards their own health and well-being — including the care extended to the family and the community.’ The definition is broad and encompasses the actions required for people to maintain good physical and mental health, to meet their social and psychological needs and prevent illness or accidents.”
Self-care decreases numbers of medical visits, improves medical consultations and implementation of medicinal treatments. But self-care goes far beyond these medical improvements.
SELF-CARE MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
When you practice self-care, you feel good about yourself. Others pick up on your positive vibe, and that impacts your relationships. People who neglect themselves tend to feel lower self-esteem and negative emotions. This affects health overall. Taking care of yourself has a direct influence on others in your life. When you feel good, you can do better for others.
The basics of self-care are critical to maintaining emotional, mental balance and good health. These include proper sleep, healthy eating habits, exercise, prayer or other spiritual activities.
Regular self-care helps you manage stress. Simply taking a break to be alone, or experience nature, or have a soothing spa-like treatment as simple as a hot bubble bath are ways to lower stress levels and increase positive emotions. When you feel good about yourself, you attract positivity from others, too.
As Elizabeth Scott, MS, states, “A simple but often overlooked form of self-care is having a self-pampering experience on a regular basis in your own home." She suggests simple in-home spa-like treatments, like taking a bath, deep conditioning your hair, clipping or painting your nails, or getting a massage (by a masseuse or an electronic massage device).
CREATING A PERSONAL SPA OASIS
To better balance my life, one of my best decisions while working as a Florida public school teacher was creating an oasis for myself. I had a small Florida yard with a privacy fence and gates I had installed. I used that space to create my beloved tropical garden. My garden produced Monarch, Swallowtail, Gulf Fritillary butterflies, pineapples, herbs, Golden Rain Trees, Bougainvillea, and myriad flowers.
Gardening in the Florida heat inspired me to get a small swimming pool installed, where I could enjoy my garden view. My backyard swimming pool was an incredible oasis. A place where I could unwind, let go of daily stress, quiet my busy mind and chill. It was one of the best investments I made because it gave me a reason to take care of myself. Cooling off after a long workday was therapeutic for me.
I enjoyed the silence and privacy of having a moment all to myself. Relaxing in my private swimming pool allowed me to experience nature at its finest. Lying on my float, I absorbed the vast, stillness of the blue skies. Watching puffs of white clouds floating leisurely above me slowed my typically fast-paced thoughts. Instead, I focused on the beauty of the universe.
THERAPEUTIC TROPICAL PARADISE
I swam like a lazy mermaid, mesmerized by the world of color and peacefulness in my garden. I watched gorgeous Monarch butterflies flit from tropical milkweed plant leaves, drop egg babies, circle around invisible pathways above my little yard, and repeat dozens of times. I observed the progress of those eggs as they became full-fledged caterpillars chomping those milkweed plants down to empty green stems.
I saw the astounding metamorphic graduation of green chrysalides; darkening from black to translucent with golden orange and black, until crumpled newborn butterflies pushed their withered shells open, emerging as upside down shiny jewels.
I was even able to coax newly eclosed butterflies to climb my fingers until I decided to place them on a hibiscus or lantana bloom. Or, sometimes, with a flick of my wrist, spur new flights into motion. What a joy.
HOW I CREATED A SALTWATER SPA EXPERIENCE
I replaced my chlorine pump with a saltwater pump. This allowed me to avoid heavy chemicals and save money by using only salt. (See my blog and video on how to do that here.) The feel of the pure saltwater-infused pool was like physical therapy to my aching body after a long, hot day. Submerging slowly into the softness of pure water melted my daily stress into oblivion. Relaxing my tight muscles by a dip in my private pool was a great source of relaxation and rejuvenation.
MAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE
Getting a moment away from the noisy, busy, rapid-speed of daily life is not easy. Many of us don’t even try to fit in self-care because we’re so busy chasing our tails to keep up with the spinning world. But, from having my private swimming pool and garden oasis, I kept my sanity.
It detoxed my mind, body and spirit. Having that time in nature to relax in a quiet, beautiful setting gave me balance. Being able to take in the beautiful sights in my garden while silently resting in my pool was an enormous gift. It taught me the necessity of taking care of myself.
You don’t have to create a saltwater swimming pool to bring self-care into your life. Besides, everyone doesn’t live in a tropical climate. I’ve moved from Florida back to Kentucky to be caregiver for my mother while following my entrepreneurial dreams. So, the wisdom of self-care is calling my name once again.
Taking this moment to recall the beauty of my Florida garden and swimming pool oasis brings me the joy of reliving my homemade spa experience. Sometimes envisioning and taking a breath is all it takes to bring a bit of balance back into your life.
What are some ways you can apply self-care in your daily life?
For a list or resources and products I used to create my summer pool oasis, click here.
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All photos by Jenny Leigh Hodgins. All rights reserved.
In my Caregiver blogs, you'll find I understand the internal struggles and daily stress as a caregiver juggling entrepreneurial life.