Self Care Tips for the Self Aware Human

If you're reading this right, chances are: you're aware that there is a huge mental health crisis going on globally. Something I learned whilst researching my first TEDx Talk that I delivered in February of last year [all about how music and songwriting saved my life after having had ten brain surgeries] is that in September of 2020: the World Health Organization guesstimated it would take the average human 10years to mentally and emotionally recover from the ramifications of the pandemic.

That was only six months into the pandemic. We all know COVID has lasted a lot longer than that! But I digress.

If you're anything like me, however: as a result of the mental health awareness that seems to be trending across the globe, chances are you've ALSO noticed a rise in the number of people who are talking more and more about the importance of filling - and keeping - our mental and emotional cups full at all times.

Not just scrambling to refuel when we feel depleted, but actually being proactive about maintaining our wholistic health.

What a concept.

So, to that end, I wanted to cover some of the ways that I have found to be beneficial when it comes to refilling our cups, maintaining that mental health, and ensuring that we are happy, healthy humans at all times.

But first let's look at what self care is.

Different Types of Self-Care

According to the Oxford Dictionary, self care is: the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.

The World Health Organization defines it as: "what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication".

And according to the National Institute of Mental Health: "self-care means taking the time to do things that help people live well and improve their physical and mental health."

But how do we actually achieve self care? Is there just one way?

Nope. Not at all. Humans aren't one-dimensional, so we need to ensure we approach how we look after ourselves with a multi-faceted approach as well. For example:

LOOKING AFTER OUR PHYSICAL HEALTH


  • Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.
  • Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.

LOOKING AFTER OUR MENTAL HEALTH

  • Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.

  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy such as journaling.

  • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.

  • Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.

  • Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.

  • Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

LOOKING AFTER OUR SOCIAL HEALTH

  • Together We Rise. Surround yourself with good people who bring you UP.

  • Do what makes you happy. Practicing self care by doing simple activities such as stretching and eating tasty [and healthy] food

  • Get together. Engage in hobbies and extracurricular activities that support social bonding

  • Habits are Happiness. Stick to a healthy routine.

  • Goals FTW. Set yourself - and celebrate when you achieve - your goals

  • Use your words. Continue working on better communication.

LOOKING AFTER OUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH

  • Write it down. Keep a journal to record your thoughts, feelings and ideas

  • Judge-free Territory. Be aware of when you want to judge your emotional responses in situations, and take active steps to avoid doing so.

  • What's Inside? Look inward for self love - not for external validation

  • Self Love Only Zone. Stop negative self talk

LOOKING AFTER OUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH

  • Faith Forward. If you're a person of faith: connect with your faith community.

  • Give Back. Volunteer or help others.

  • Body, Mind and Soul. Practice yoga or Pilates

  • Meditate. Take some time to look inwards, and connect with your spiritual self - scheduling time to breathe.

  • Write it down. Keep a journal.

  • It's Natural. Spend time in nature: hiking, walking, and getting fresh air!

  • Do things you enjoy. Focus on your hobbies.

LOOKING AFTER OUR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

  • Smoke-free Zone. Avoid as much as possible the hazard of first- and second-hand smoke.

  • Vinegar and Baking Soda to the rescue! Replace Chemical Cleaning Products with Natural Alternatives.

  • Home sweet home. Reduce Allergens and Improve the Air Quality in Your Home.

  • Declutter. Take just 20 minutes a day to clear out any build up of mess in your home.

  • Fresh air! Get More Nature in Your Life.

  • Screen Off. Limit Your Screen Time - whether that's your phone, computer or television.

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Use Eco-friendly and Recycled Materials in Your Home

Okay, so we've covered a lot in a short blog post when it comes to the importance of, and how to implement self care.

But what on earth does this have to do with music?

Why on earth would I be writing to you about this today?

Well, it's my honest belief that - as much as we like to differentiate the different parts of our health and wellness - the truth is that our physical, spiritual, environmental, social, mental, and emotional selves are all interconnected, and one of the things I have found to be instrumental [pun intended] in helping us to retain our wholistic health comes back to the power of music.

Specifically when it comes to writing my own music. Let me explain:

Physical Health through Music

What better way to remember the importance of honoring my strength, health and well-being than through one of the first ever singles I wrote, recorded and released with my New Zealand based hard-rock band Static Era?

Every time I listen to this song - even to this day - I'm reminded that I'm resilient, powerful, and able to take on the world.

The fact that the song always makes me want to move, dance, and get my blood pumping doesn't hurt, either.

Mental Health through Music

When I wrote Be Brave back in 2015: I wasn't prepared for, nor did I quite understand, how much it would serve me in what the next few years would give me. To give some context, I had just moved to the States from New Zealand to embark on a mission to save the world one song at a time - and become a full-time musician. The trials and tribulations that came along with moving to Washington DC by myself - not knowing anyone - and, of course, the stress of being self-employed, the overwhelm of starting over, and - yep - the pandemic... writing Be Brave was mentally healing in and of itself, but listening to it years after: I'm still reminded of the importance of my mental well-being.

Social Health through Music

Writing "Together We Rise" was initially as a commissioned art piece for local business: The Author Incubator, which is now The Difference Press... but, yet again, the healing power of music has shown up for me time and time again as I continue to be reminded of the power of community, the magic of diversity, and the fact that our company will always dictate the trajectory of our lives. Do we want to fall with our friends, or will be choose company that acknowledges and celebrates the fact that a rising tide truly does lift all boats?

Emotional Health through Music

Now, before I talk too much about this song, I should preface that emotional health encompasses a HUGE range of emotional expression... "Faith in You" is just one aspect of how songwriting and music has helped me to honor my emotional self - specifically when it comes to love, relationships, and trusting that I'm worthy of healthy love [can you relate?].

Writing this song was my way of allowing myself to understand and come to terms with my capacity to love, but it continues to serve as a reminder of what healthy love is. Which is ideal, given that the man in the music video [whom I wrote the song about] and I are about to be married!

[What can I say? Music is my love language]

Spiritual Health through Music

One of the recurring concepts I often hear motivational speakers talk about is the fact that the words "I Am" are the two most powerful words in the English language, because whatever you say after them dictate your destiny.

There's also a much more religious way to look at the words "I Am", but I wasn't thinking about those aspects at all when I wrote "I Am". Instead, I was thinking much more about who I am, who I was becoming, and who I wanted to become... after all our thoughts become words become actions become habits become reality.

So who did I want to be? Who did I want to become?

Then I heard a local speaker say that "to pray is to talk to God/Allah/Buddha/The Force/Spirit... and to meditate is to listen", and I realized that songwriting - especially songs like "I Am" is the manifestation of that conversation.

And a conversation that I can continue to listen to, learn from, and have serve as my spiritual compass as I continue to embark on every new day.

Environmental Health through Music

Yes, I could have linked my more recent environmental awareness song: Unity in Devastation [which I was commissioned to write by the American Association for the Advancement of Science] but what can I say? My awareness of our connection to our environment has always been clear to me... ever since I wrote "Look Around" when I was 10years old.

The environment in which we allow ourselves to live in has a HUGE impact on how we think, feel and interact with the world around us. So, of course, when I give myself permission to honor this aspect of my health and well-being: I continue to work towards ensuring I'm doing the best for - not just myself - but also those around me.

And, you guessed it, whenever I listen back to this song: I am yet again reminded of my power to make a positive contribution to the world I live within.

But

Just as much as I have always turned to music and songwriting to help me remember key aspects to my self care routine: YOU TOO can step into the power of your voice, your words, and your habits to positively rewrite the narrative of your mental, emotional, social, environmental, physical, spiritual journey through this life.

Songwriting can absolutely contribute to how you can immediately manage stress, improve your immune system, and ensure your daily life is positive, empowering and healthy... but because a song can be revisited, repeated, sung, remembered, and shared: music is an incredible tool for maintaining one's self care routine.

So what are you waiting for?

If you've ever been intrigued about finding creative tools to help YOU practice self care, reduce stress, and maintain an effective self care routine: I'd love to hop on a free discovery callwith you to discuss in further detail the mental, social, environmental, spiritual, physical and emotional benefits to turning your struggles into songs, and your thoughts into anthems that will continue to serve you and your community positively.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

~ Emma G

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