Self care: we preach it, but do we really practice it? And if we do, what does it look like? We at the NAA believe that meeting our own personal needs with regular self care is key to a level of wellbeing that manifests in mind and body, including lower stress and healthier skin. We know this from experience, and from learning the hard way that self care isn’t something that can be ignored for too long without negative effects. But self care isn’t the same for everyone. This week, we share our personal perspectives on self care, and describe some of the practices that work in our own individual lives. We hope you’ll be inspired to share yours, and make some extra time for self care in your busy schedule.

What does self care mean to you?

Rachael, President: “Self-care is just as much a challenge for me as it is for any woman I’ve ever talked to about it, whether in my personal life or professional practice. Women are busy! Whether we work, stay home, work at home, or otherwise, we place more responsibilities on these days, it seems, than ever before. We must care for ourselves–which to me, means attending to our own authentic needs without guilt or judgment–on a daily basis. And we must make it a non-negotiable–we have to place as much weight on its value as we place on eating, breathing, and tending to our families and businesses. Just as our skin and the rest of our physical bodies’ needs shift over time, so do our emotional needs, so what might work as self-care in one season or year, might need to change in another.”

Jolene, Co-Founder: “Check in with your body, asking yourself how you feel and what your current needs are. In a perfect world, you’d consistently make an effort to meet those needs, to the best of your ability. That response to your needs is what I call self care. For me, self care has to do with time to let my mind wander and rest. It can be 5 minutes to deep breathe, a walk someplace peaceful and green, a hot cup of tea, or time to read a good book.”

Tisha Co-Founder: “If Oprah asked me her famous question “What do you know to be true?” I like to imagine myself waxing poetic on the paramount importance of self-care and self-love. Certainly, self-care in concept is the thread that stitches through all the books that clutter my office table and crowd all my bookcases. Yet I must confess, when it comes to self-care in application, I am often a tad more ‘preach’ than ‘practice’. Honestly, it is when I keep it simple – letting the question “Is this how you would treat your most cherished friend?” guide my everyday choices (of thought and action) that I see the grace that self-care offers.”

What are your current favorite self-care practices?

  • Creative immersion for pleasure. Repressed creative inspiration and unexpressed emotion makes me cranky and dull. I am at my self-care sparkly best when there ample time in my schedule to follow the whimsical path of the next creative project that beckons me with-out ‘production guilt’ squashing the joy out it. I frequently try to free up time chunks in my work schedule for small creative play endeavors. Art journaling, creative writing, seemingly random research projects involving too much Pinterest all perk me up nicely in a pinch, especially if I am not knee deep in a gloriously messy larger scale project like rehabbing my perennial garden, refinishing my hardwood floors or designing hand beaded wedding favors. -Tisha
  • I make my own skincare products. To me, the act of making my own products provides the same type of nourishment and love as making my own meals. It’s helped me approach care for my own skin with a higher level of reverence than I ever had before, since I was connected to every thought process that went into that product–every ingredient choice, every stir–and every choice was made for where my skin is at right now, as well as how I want it to be as I age. I think making one’s own skincare is the ultimate expression of self-care. -Rachael
  • A transporting story. I spend half of my time writing, editing and researching, and the vast majority of books in my library are somehow related to my work. But lately I’ve been reminding myself how transporting a good story can be, and how great it feels to have that brain break. I try to carve out some regular time (usually right before bed) to read fiction or a biography that’s purely for pleasure. -Jolene
  • Saying “no” without undue apology.  My self-care means saying “yes” to me and that sometimes means saying “no” to others. This is easier said than done, but I think worthy of my continued efforts. One of the key mantras I use with my coaching clients is “I am the boss of me,” (which I think works best said aloud with the aplomb of a two year old). I practice using this mantra to help me push back a bit on the incessant demands on my time and the litany of mental “‘shoulds,”  “coulds,” and “have-tos” that echo in my mind most days. -Tisha
  • Fuel for body and mind. Midday, I take time to make myself a nourishing lunch away from my desk. It’s non-negotiable. Making sure I’m well-fueled, and that I have time to breathe, chew, and digest optimally, is so important to my wellbeing. -Jolene
  • Movement, but not at the gym. I battled for years with guilt about the fact that I don’t like conventional exercise. I don’t like running, I don’t like the gym environment, gym equipment–it’s just not for me. I prefer types of movement that I associate with something pleasurable. I love yoga, because I find it very meditative and often incorporate aromatherapy and prayer into my practice. I also study classical ballet, because I love losing myself in the music and making beautiful shapes with my body. My kids are also classical ballerinas, so I feel it connects me to their experience on a deeper level too, which I also think is beautiful. -Rachael
  • A satisfying soak. A hot bath makes my body and mind blissfully happy. Soaking for 20 minutes in a warm tub with Epsom salts and essential oils just puts my body and mind at ease. The sleep-inducing feeling that results from the rise and fall of my body temperature truly helps melt away stress and racing thoughts. -Jolene
  • My spiritual practice. I’ve been actively studying and practicing different waves of women’s spirituality for more than 20 years. The depth of my practice ebbs and flows depending on what else is going on in my life, but what I do know for sure is that I’m happier, physically healthier, and experience more abundance when I make time for spirituality on a daily basis, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour. -Rachael
  • Exalting dinner for one. Yes, it sometimes feels like a heck of a lot of ingredients and effort to create an casual-elegant meal for just one – but my cherished friend (me) is worth it!  She is worth the extra trip to Whole Foods to get the organic brand she prefers and all the fixings. By all means, she deserves your fine china, your undivided attention and the fresh strawberries for dessert served in your great-grandmother’s glass footed bowl. -Tisha


We want to hear from you!

What’s your personal definition of self care?

And what self care practices are essential in your life?