By Fran Migliorati
Let’s start with definitions. Self-care is maintaining personal wellbeing and health. The things you do on a regular basis that have a short-term impact in your health and wellbeing.
Self-investment is investing time and energy in things that contribute to your happiness and general wellbeing. The things you do every so often that have a mid-to-long term impact in your health and wellbeing.
The way I like to differentiate them is by imagining a ‘wellbeing bank account’: self-investment is what you put into your ‘wellbeing bank account’ and self-care is the daily management of your ‘wellbeing expenses’.
Everyone has access to some form of self-care every day like running a hot bath, having a cup of tea, exercising, keeping your space clean and tidy, etc. Self-Investment is something you don’t necessarily think of every day like setting a daily routine or rituals, choosing what type of people to surround yourself in, etc. I believe that when you get the balance right, between self-care and self-investment, then self-care becomes less of a ‘necessity’ and more of an ‘indulgence’.
When it comes to your ‘wellbeing bank account’, you can never invest too much in it, and every investment, as small as it may be, will 100% pay-off (oh I wish it was the same with money). Also very important to note, nobody else can do this self-investment for you (unless you are a child). Self-investment is YOU, only YOU, investing in YOU.
Here are 5 simple and easy ways that you can start investing in yourself:
1 – Never stop learning
Neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman says that our brain is wired to learn and that ‘brains are rewriting themselves all the time’. Learning a new language, an instrument, a game like chess or deep diving into a new subject improves neuroplasticity (neuro pathways) which is associated with changes in behaviour, thinking patterns and emotions. If you want to adapt and deal with new situations and your emotions in a healthy way, then you need to have healthy brain plasticity.
2 – Master deep breathing
When it comes to health, prioritizing deep breathing is the very first thing to master because deep breathing controls your body and your mind, in fact it controls your whole system. Breathing pumps into your body the most essential survival element: Oxygen. Deep breathing allows you to manage and release emotions, it puts your body in the driver’s seat, a survival tool in my view.
3 – Learn to understand and respond to your emotions
At this moment in time emotions are not part of the curriculum at most schools. We don’t learn at a young age how to understand and respond to our and others emotions in a healthy way. Studies have shown that most people are emotional illiterate, which means that most people don’t know how to recognise and manage emotions. Having emotional literacy increases our capacity of self-awareness and of communication and our ability to deal with adversity in life.
4 – Stop the clock to go inwards regularly
The world is a fast paced and we are changing all the time but we hardly stop, without guilt but with purpose, to check-in with ourselves and reflect on how we are doing and on who we are. Most of us are just keeping up with whatever it is that we are used to doing and being, perhaps because we tell ourselves we don’t have time or because it feels scary to change ‘What will others think?’. Mindfulness practices is where you can start reflecting about how you are doing and connecting to who you are. Journaling and meditation are my favourite mindfulness practices for that.
5 – Identify and transform limiting beliefs
Limiting beliefs are the foundation of your behaviour, your attitudes and thoughts. You can practice as much self-care as possible but if you don’t believe deeply that you are worthy of self-love and/or worthy of your dreams then self-care won’t get you very far. You only identify what your limiting beliefs are by actively working on your beliefs system. Only once you’ve discovered what it is that isn’t serving you, that you can start working on transforming it.
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Want to deep dive into these topics? Here are my favorite book recommendations:
Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman
Conscious Breathing: Discover The Power of Your Breath by Anders Olsson
How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
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