If you read the WELL’s January newsletter, you may remember that each month we’ll be focusing on one of five important components of well-being:
- your social self (family, friendship, and romantic love)
- your essential self (your spirituality, cultural identity, and self care)
- your physical self (exercise and eating well)
- your creative self (your thoughts, your emotions, what you do for work/study, and your sense of humor)
- your coping self (what you do in your leisure, your stress management, and your self-worth).
Last month we gave some tips on improving our social self and family communication. This month we’d like to highlight the essential self and offer some ideas to improve our connection to spirituality, cultural identity, and self care.
Our spirituality refers to our sense of purpose, meaning, and a feeling of hope towards life. Spirituality could include prayer, worship, meditation, belief in a higher power, compassion for others, a sense of connection to all of life or oneness with the universe. Cultural identity can give us a sense of community and belonging, and can help us feel supported and comfortable with who we are.
Cultural identity can give us a sense of community and belonging, and can help us feel supported and comfortable with who we are.
Self care encompasses all the habits we have that make us feel healthy, rested, and energized. Anything that we do to improve our quality of life and our longevity can be considered self care. Many parents are so used to giving all they have to their kids that they often forget to care for themselves. Sometimes we might think we’re being selfish if we focus on ourselves or make our own needs for relaxation, balance, or rest a priority.
Writer Audre Lorde disagrees: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” Taking care of ourselves allows us to be able to care for those around us and be more present for friends, family, and community.
These are a few suggestions to get you started on your journey to wellness in the realm of the essential self. If you’d like to explore this or any of the parts of well-being a little more in depth, visit our website to set up an appointment.
- End each day with a gratitude practice. As your day comes to an end, take a few minutes to pause and reflect on things that went well, moments of joy, people or animals you appreciate in your life. Notice the small things — a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a warm bed, or a friendly neighbor — that bring you comfort. You can start a journal where you record your daily thoughts on gratitude or just quietly savor the warm and uplifting emotions that come up as you tune into what you are thankful for. Gratitude is linked with life satisfaction, mental health, and can help us cope with stress.
- Find opportunities to share family or cultural stories and celebrate your ethnic background in community. Make every month your history month by passing on traditions, and bringing your cultural perspective and pride into your family, community, and daily life. Use your voice and share your heritage through meals, music, memories, and values. We all grow and expand as a society when every unique culture is heard and celebrated. Explore the roots of your traditions and share them with others.
- Take advantage of local resources that educate and inspire. Explore the collections at the North Carolina Museum of History and Museum of Art, visit places like the African American Cultural Center on NC State’s campus for events and exhibits, the Triangle Lebanese-American Center, Diamante in Cary and the Hispanic Family Center to build community and connect to your heritage. Wake County Public Library has many free documentary videos available through their website that cover significant events and moments in our country’s multicultural history and arts. Log in with your library card number and PIN to access NC Live, which has films on many subjects including Roberto Clemente, Zora Neale Hurston, Geronimo, Deaf culture, the Harlem Renaissance, and the acclaimed series, Eyes on the Prize, available for viewing.
- Find ways to take a movement break. Exercise and healthy habits don’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Instead, find ways to change what you are already doing so that you add a little bit of physical activity and make it fun. For instance, choose stairs instead of taking an elevator or escalator, park your car further out in the lot to add to your walk into work or on errands, and get up and take breaks to stretch and roll your shoulders back when you have been sitting for a while. But don’t just add movement, try to make it feel good. Find a way to walk that feels relaxing or enjoyable. You can walk mindfully, noticing how each step on the earth feels to your foot, noticing the sway of your hips, or say to yourself as you walk: “Breathing in, I am walking, breathing out I feel peace.” If you like to dance, put on a favorite song and take a 5-minute dance break during your day to reconnect to your spirit while getting some healthy movement in. Be creative!