I had the pleasure of chatting with Jamel Cherry, a holistic health coach and Reiki master, about the importance of incorporating self-care into our daily lives.
Jamel’s focus on a healthy mind, body, and spirit combined is both refreshing and needed. In a time when we spend so much of our lives on the go, working, and pushing ourselves beyond the limits, the ability to stop and recharge is key to both our short- and long-term well-being. Here’s what Jamel had to say about just how essential a personal self-care practice is for us all.
What does it mean to practice self-care?
Self-care is the process of taking care of yourself in order to take care of others. Regardless of who you are or what your job is, we are all giving to others every single day. It could be through our time, our ideas, or our physical labor, or all of the above. As a result, we need to have enough energy and be in the right physical and mental state to be of service.
Many people don’t realize that practicing self-care is neither an act of indulgence nor selfishness, but a necessity. Being of service can be depleting, which is where the need for self-care comes in. When you practice self-care, you are maintaining the health of your mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t, you will eventually crash.
What are some of the signs that point to a need for self-care?
Pay attention to the things that you find challenging. Areas of challenge, especially on a consistent basis, are a call to look deeper into what is not working and what needs tending to. For example, if you find that you are unhappy most days, or that you are making a lot of mistakes while at work, then you are likely experiencing signs of a lack of self-care.
Other signs can be physical, like when your body starts to shut down and you become ill. Discomfort or pain are signs as well. This is an indication that you need to slow down and regenerate. Recovery from illness is actually your body forcing self-care on you. It is a result of not proactively giving your mind and body what it needs.
In order to embrace self-care, we need to understand that it is up to us to control our inner state, on a consistent and ongoing basis. When we are internally out of wack, the ability to correct it is in our hands. Self-care is not something that we can rely on anyone else to do for us.
Do you see an overlap between self-care and the practice of mindfulness and conscious living?
All of these topics are very much-related, in that they directly and indirectly affect your mind, body, and spirit. In Yoruba (West African) tradition, the state of consciousness is deified, and is linked very closely to the fulfillment of our destiny. When you are following your destiny, you have a clear focus and a plan to get there. Mindfulness and consciousness allows you to move in the direction toward your destiny. Additionally, self-care allows you to be in the best state to fulfill your destiny.
Mindfulness directly affects your mental state. It allows you to be present and acknowledge who you are and where you are. It provides an opportunity to slow down and be aware of your presence. Through this increased awareness, you are then able to see where in your life you need to practice self-care.
What’s a good place for a beginner to start, when it comes to creating their own self-care practice?
Self-care can look many different ways. It can be as simple as setting your morning alarm to play your favorite song, so that you wake up happy and set the tone for the rest of the day. It can also look like gratitude. Take some time in the morning to say thank you. You can also say a prayer, for example. From there, set your intentions for the day. Get clear on what kind of day you plan to have and then make it so. Allow time for breakfast, drink water, take your supplements, and include exercise as well, which can be as easy as a few minutes of stretching. As you go throughout the day, be mindful of what you put into your body, as healthy eating is a form of daily self-care that we often overlook.
At night, take time to reflect on the day, but then also acknowledge that it is the end of a cycle. The next day will begin a new cycle. Close the book and intend to wake up and engage the world in a new way.
What do you do for self-care? Tell us about your own personal practice.
I meditate daily – at least once, but preferably twice. Meditation is best in the morning because it can make you feel wired and recharged. I also take supplements. The benefit of supplements is that they make you more complete by giving your body what it’s missing. I also exercise as much as I can.
Another important part of my self-care is ritual and ceremony. In African spiritual anatomy, different parts of the body have a different spiritual significance. As part of my practice of that tradition, I give blessings and offerings to certain parts of the body – like the top of my head, stomach, and feet – as a way to honor myself and move forward on my journey toward consciousness.
Lastly, I include journaling as a very important part of my self-care routine. Being able to sit down and free-write about how I’m feeling helps me to shift into a new space and create something new for myself.
What do you include in your self-care practice? Tell us in the comments!