Did you know that September is Self-Care Awareness month? According to the National Day Calendar, September is also Self Improvement Month.1 Does that mean these concepts are synonymous?
Let’s start with the literal definitions, according to the Cambridge Dictionary.2
Care: The “process of providing for the needs of someone or something”.
Self: We commonly know that self is our own being or personality – who we are as individuals.
Improvement: The “process of making something better, or getting better.”
Therefore, we can interpret the definition of Self-Care to be the act or process of providing for the needs of our individual being. Similarly, Self-Improvement is the process of making ourselves better.
While they are related, they could be viewed as a cause and effect… you must care for yourself in order to improve. Conversely, the act of getting better is at the very core of caring for yourself. It’s a ‘chicken and egg’ debate! For our purposes, we will assume they are tightly interwoven.
Now that we have defined our starting point, let’s consider all the options.
Our one individual being is made up of three key components: our mind, body and spirit. It is possible to define Self-Care practices that feed our whole being in one activity. Kudos for being super-efficient! However, we also need to remember that not all needs are equal.
Self-Care for the Body may be the easiest concept to pin down. Strength Training. Fitness. Massage. Preventive Healthcare. Dancing. Getting a Haircut. Shopping for a new outfit. Bubble Bath. Each of these acts honors and supports our physical well-being.
Self-Care for the Spirit brings in the next level. If we approach this in the most direct fashion, we might nourish the spirit through our religious practices. Yet… there is another way to look at spiritual care. Our Spirit is the very essence of who we are. It is our state of mind, attitude and energy level. When we look at it that way, the activities that support this side of our being are a little different: Connecting with Family. Quiet moments by the Sea. Watching the Sun rise. Meditation. Music. And yes… reading Scripture. Any of these activities allows us to replenish the soul and prepare the spirit for another day of giving to those around us.
Self-Care for the Mind is the most complex. Our brain is our thought processor. We manage millions of thoughts, ideas, calculations, and plans in our waking and sleeping moments. Have you ever woken from a dream with an amazing business idea, or the solution to a personal dilemma? The mind is always working and never truly takes any time off! Therefore, care here means giving it what it truly needs… more information. New Business Concepts. Theory and Philosophy. Science Fiction. Algebra. Research. By enhancing our database of personal knowledge, we nourish the mind and provide it the tools necessary to support its counterparts (Body and Spirit).
So, how do we get efficient at this? Are there activities that will provide care for us as one individual being, with all our many parts and needs? Yes!
Dance. Taking ballroom dancing lessons can be an amazing way to give back to your whole self.
This is just one example. Here are more ideas that may fit your routine, some of which may not be the most conventional when we think of Self-Care… Join a community softball league. Plan a training meeting for work. Tackle a home renovation project. Help your child with their Science Fair project. Train your dog (or cat, but good luck there!). Take an architectural tour of a nearby city. Take a cooking class with your partner. The options are quite diverse: some being work-related, some social. Yet, they all share the common thread of total engagement.
As you consider your next moment of Self-Care, remember that it isn’t just about indulging in wine, chocolate and a bubble bath (although that sounds really good!). It is all about you, and doing things that positively impact your entire life… one valuable moment at a time.
Join me over the next several weeks to take a deeper dive into each aspect of self-care: improving our mind, body and spirit, and define the broad impact of these practices across our personal and professional lives.
Until next time… Be sure to make time for YOU.
By Virna Cothrin, Business Consultant & Leadership Coach at Colibri Blue Group
Virna Cothrin, MBA, is the founding Principal of Colibri Blue Group, a management consulting and executive coaching firm based in New Jersey. With more than 15 years of experience leading cross-organizational, highly collaborative teams that span the globe, she specializes in the strategic planning and delivery of global innovation programs in the healthcare, human capital and education sectors. Her true passion is helping startup organizations, business leaders, and corporate teams define and achieve operational success. Virna partners with her clients to assess their operations, identify areas of opportunity, develop growth strategies, and execute efficiently and effectively.