When I think about what nurturing means to me, I envision a small plant. I used to have a fairly large garden and I started my plants indoors. I sprinkled the tiny seeds in each pod, watering them gently, and then placed the trays under a lamp. Each morning I would excitedly run to the basement to see if any of the seeds had sprouted. Once the plants were big enough, I would replant them outside. This process involved nurturing these little plants. I cared for them and encouraged them to grow.
Most of us have several people in our lives that we nurture, … our kids, our partner, our family, our friends. We love and care for them and want them to grow. We nurture them!
The best way to keep nurturing those we love is to start by nurturing ourselves.
A person can only give what they possess. If you asked someone to borrow a dollar, they must actually have a dollar in order to give it to you. The same is true with nurturing or tending to someone else’s needs. When our own personal needs are met, our “tank” is full and we are able to give the best care to others. If we neglect ourselves, we will have nothing to draw from when someone needs us.
Life gets busy and distractions are all around us. Taking care of our own physical, emotional or mental needs is often neglected. It is sometimes easier to overlook what we need to be well, in order to take care of someone else. But with some intentional choices throughout the day, we can nurture ourselves and ensure our own wellness.
Emotional well-being is just as important as physical well-being.
When we cut our finger, we can see the injury and know how to take care of it. We clean the wound and put a band aid on it. Emotional or mental needs are not usually visible and harder to detect. We could be feeling sad or discouraged. We may be struggling with an issue at work. We may feel stressed about paying the bills. Self-care for these issues is just as important as putting a band aid on a cut, yet often we ignore our emotional needs, hope they will go away, or just don’t pay attention to ourselves.
Regular maintenance prevents a bigger ailment from occurring.
Daily self-care and nurturing is important because it keeps you on the path of health and wellness. We can compare this continuous self-care to the kitchen drain. The plumbing pipes stay clear so water can run through easily by not putting things down the drain that clog them up. If we don’t constantly take care of our emotional needs, we are clogging up our drain in a way. When we don’t tend to ourselves regularly, we may end up exploding over something small because we feel overwhelmed.
Be your own best friend.
Ask yourself how you treat your friends. Most of us are encouraging and supportive of our friends. We treat strangers with more kindness than we do to ourselves. When we let ourselves down, or don’t perform perfectly, or miss the mark, remind yourself to be kind. Being kind to ourselves is nurturing. We do not need to expect more from ourselves than we would anyone else.
Take care of your whole self.
It is important to nurture ourselves in all areas: mind, body and soul. Sometimes our body needs care; other days our mind might need attention. So how can you tell?
When our mind needs care, ask yourself, “Have I been allowing negative self-talk or experiencing anxiety from worry or stress?” You could nurture yourself by journaling, reading a good book, or meditating.
When our body needs care, ask yourself, “Have I been eating well, sleeping deeply, or getting some exercise?” You could nurture yourself by walking, eating a fresh salad, or going to bed early.
When our soul needs care, ask yourself, “Am I feeling emotional or upset about anything?” You could nurture yourself by spending time with a friend, taking a bath, or drinking some tea.
Make a list of things that make you feel nurtured.
What brings you comfort? Each of us is different and just because I love a bubble bath, doesn’t mean that will be nurturing for someone else. Think about activities and experiences that make you feel cared for and comforted. Then make a list to reference whenever you need nurturing. You might be surprised at how often you get excited to choose something from your list!
We all need care. We all need comfort. We all need to be nurtured. Nurturing is a gift for you to give yourself and in the end, all the people around you will benefit.
The image was taken by Francesco Gallarotti and can be found on Unsplash.com here: