HEALTH BY CHOICE

Self-care is both powerful and empowering. Although sometimes associated with being selfish and lazy, true self-care is anything but.

Closely related to self-worth and a component of self-love, self-care is never a selfish act. It's about putting ourselves first and getting our own lives right before attempting to help others with theirs.

Self-care requires prioritising.

Self-care sets boundaries and demands we say "no" at times (putting our own needs first). Yes, you can put your foot down!

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Self-care celebrates the smallest and largest of accomplishments.

Self-care is never indulgent.

Self-care is never taken advantage of.

Self-care is honest. It recognises weakness as well as strengths. It authentically faces failures and examines perspective.

Self-care nourishes. It nourishes the body, mind and soul. It soothes the emotions, tempers and sweetens thought and treats the body with love by giving it what it needs – healthy foods to grow and thrive, mental exercise to keep the brain sharp and clear and proper movement through exercise to stay physically strong and flexible.

Self-care changes lives. When we love ourselves enough to take the best possible care we can, we set in motion a string of positive effects.

Self-neglect is not only mentally dangerous, it is linked to many types of health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and weight gain. Photo/Getty Images
Self-neglect is not only mentally dangerous, it is linked to many types of health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and weight gain. Photo/Getty Images

So, let go of your guilt. It's bringing you down. Stand up for who you are. Embrace and respect your own needs. Adopt and believe "it's all about me", because it is.

How do you expect to love and help others if you cannot love and help yourself first? Trying to give to others a feeling that you do not yet own for yourself is impossible. It's self-love that's the source of all our other loves. Without a healthy, happy attitude towards ourselves, there's nothing positive we can offer others.

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Are you the "go to" person in your circle of family and friends? Are you a martyr? Do you try to earn their love through sacrifice? Do you give in to their demands over what your own body, mind and heart are telling you is needed in an effort to earn their love? Do you say "yes" when your gut says "no?" If so, this is a form of self-neglect and the only one suffering in the process is you! Truth is, the only way to receive love is by being love, not through sacrifice.

Self-neglect is not only mentally dangerous, it is linked to many types of health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and weight gain.

Remember, only when your
Remember, only when your "oxygen mask" is in place, are you in a position to help others put theirs on, says Carolyn Hansen. Photo/Getty Images

Stop caring what others think and treat yourself kindly. Make your needs a priority and schedule your own personal self-care needs into your daily schedule (if you don't plan it, you are in danger of not doing it!).

You know it's true! You are less likely to skip your gym routine when a friend or family member asks you to go shopping if your appointment with yourself was important enough to schedule it.

Make yourself worthy! Self-care and self-worth are closely related. You can't have one without the other and the only thing that really matters in the end is what makes you feel and operate at peak efficiency.

Living life to the fullest means creating a strong foundation for a stress free happy life. And, that can't happen if all our energy is spent easing the life of others. Once our own needs have been addressed then, and only then, can we afford to take our personal energy and use it on others.

Don't forget, allow yourself time to unplug from the madness of the daily grind. Photo/Getty Images
Don't forget, allow yourself time to unplug from the madness of the daily grind. Photo/Getty Images

Self-care is the best way to take and keep our power. We need to be constantly reminding ourselves of our uniqueness and how valuable our personal skills, talents and potential are because, each one of us, in our own unique way, brings something to the world that no one else has.

Bottom line is this: we must oversee our own life and recharge our own battery first. This is what promotes and heals our body, mind and spirit. Recharging is critical. A dead battery leads down a dark, dead road of depression and anxiety. It cannot charge, change or improve anything for anyone!

Cultivate the habit of nurturing yourself and filling your cup first. And, don't forget, allow yourself time to unplug from the madness of the daily grind, to celebrate your accomplishments (no one is too small), and give yourself the gift of play.

Remember, only when your "oxygen mask" is in place, are you in a position to help others put theirs on!

■ Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.