Balanced living: self-care for your whole self

An important teaching in the indigenous world is to maintain the four aspects of well-being – the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental parts of self. From time to time we all fall into the habit of neglecting one part or another and end up walking around out-of-balance and in need. Here are some simple ways that you can guide the four parts of your being towards total self-care.

Spiritual – When was the last time you prayed? Whether you’re singing a ceremonial song in your language, reading out loud some beautiful words you found in a prayer book or just quietly listening to a pre-recorded version of Ganohonyo’k on YouTube – it doesn’t matter. Just one daily moment of shutting out everything else and connecting with the Creator is all it takes to pray. Try lighting some sage or laying down tobacco as you take a quiet moment and open your heart to He Who Created Our Bodies. As you invite the Creator to engage with your spirit, you’ll be amazed as you witness how quickly life can come back into balance.

Emotional – For those of us working towards indigenous decolonization, the emotional fallout from a day filled with news of injustice and oppression can sometimes feel nuclear. For that reason alone, taking time to nurture your emotional well-being is vital to coming back into balance with your whole self. Like to write? Try picking up a notebook from the dollar store and setting down your thoughts and feelings onto paper. Not a wordy person? Turn off the computer, put down your phone and crank up the tunes. Listening to music has been shown to reduce chronic pain up to 25%. Better yet, singing out loud can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol after just ten minutes.

Physical – At 60% of our physical make-up, water plays a vital role in human life. It not only hydrates us, but also flushes out leftover by-products and toxins from major organs. If you’re not getting enough pure water the build up of those toxins can make for some uncomfortable side effects ranging from exhaustion to constipation. Experts say adults should be consuming an average of 2L of water a day, but don’t drown yourself in one sitting. Try sticking to the 8 x 8 rule; that is eight glasses of fresh, clean water over the course of eight hours to stay hydrated.

Mental – Sleep is nature’s way of hitting the reset button. Sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from mental instability to insulin sensitivity. On average young children need 12-14 hours, while teens and adults can get away with 8-9 hours a night. For a good night’s sleep make sure to clear the room of offensive smells. Instead of chemical air fresheners in the bedroom try lavender sachets instead. Shutting down electronic devices at least an hour or two before bedtime for children and 30 minutes before bed for adults can make a difference in the quality of your sleep. That means no more texting before bed! Recent studies show shutting down cellphones overnight can get you a better quality sleep as well.

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