12 Ways to Nourish the Self
It's easy in this world to get lost. We become overwhelmed and forget who we are and what we are doing. The constant bad news, the fear, the glamorization of being overproductive, and the normalization of burnout can sometimes be too much. We forget ourselves, our needs, our desires. Then, like the Gelfling in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, our very essence is taken from us by the Skeksis of the world until there is nothing left but a shell.
It’s time to find our essence, to take back ourselves. It’s time to feed and nourish our minds, our bodies, our spirits, our souls. It is time to become whole. It’s time to bloom! We can’t bloom fully without nourishment. The word nourish comes from the Latin nutrire, meaning to “feed or cherish.” So, by definition, nourish means “to provide food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.”
There are many ways to nourish ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our souls. This nourishment is vital to the health of our lives. It is our balance and well-being, our quality of life. So how do we nourish ourselves — particularly our spirit, our souls? Here are 12 ways to nourish ourselves and deepen our relationship with the self.
- Start Seeing Yourself as a Whole Being
We are whole beings. We aren’t just our traumas, just our looks, just this insecurity we think sticks out like a sore thumb. We are whole, emotional, physical, and spiritual beings. We are holistic. We are intimately and intricately interconnected. Our bodies, minds, and souls are all connected, and they affect each other as well. When we start seeing ourselves as a whole picture instead of just a part, we can see ourselves through a different perspective. In this way, we can better understand ourselves and how to nourish ourselves.
- Honor Your Intuition
Some of us are so disconnected from our intuitions that we have forgotten how to listen. Our beings are pretty intelligent and usually know what's best for us if we listen and honor our intuition. It can be as simple as listening to our bodies when we are thirsty and drinking water. You can start small, and slowly, you can begin to rebuild that relationship and trust in yourself over time. This includes honoring one's needs. As a society, we are taught at young ages to push aside our needs. As adults, we think this is how we become successful. But pushing aside our needs, like not going to the bathroom when needed or eating everything on our plates, can cause harm to our bodies. Start listening to your needs, your gut feelings, and your body.
- Choose Yourself
Many of us are afraid of coming off as selfish, and while we don’t want to become selfish, we also can’t be so selfless that we forget about ourselves. You cannot pour from an empty cup. It’s just not possible without completely depleting ourselves. This means we have to have our own back. We can’t flourish while we have a bully in our head constantly dragging us down. Stand up to the bully in your head and have your own back, stop calling yourself names, stop saying mean things. Stop saying yes when you want to say no, and stop saying no when you want to say yes. Have boundaries and don’t budge on them. Quit making everyone else and everyone else's needs and feelings a priority while putting yours last. Stop making yourself small, not taking up space, or letting people talk over you — it's not okay. Choose yourself every time. When you start choosing your needs and feelings over others, you build self-esteem and trust in yourself. When you know that you have your own back, there isn’t much you can’t do. Again, this doesn’t mean you are selfish or need to be rude. You can do these things in polite ways.
- Shift Your Happiness Focus
When we think of happiness, we tend to focus on getting more of the things that make us happy. Rarely does this approach work. We end up chasing external things that may lead to addiction at worst and, at best, a temporary fix. Instead, shift your focus to removing what makes you unhappy in the first place. If you are using possessions to distract yourself and run away from the hard work of developing your inner happiness, it won’t matter how much you spend. We have to remove what is making us unhappy to find that happiness and enrich our lives.
- Find Connection
We are communal animals. The more the push for independence is, the more disconnected people become, the more division we see, the more depression we see. One study showed that the lack of social connection was more detrimental to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. (1) It also found that social connection led to increased longevity, strengthened the immune system, helped recovery time, and lowered anxiety and depression. Did you know we need hugs? According to Family Therapist Virginia Satir, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” (2). While an official study has not yet been conducted, touch deprivation and starvation cause problems. But the connection doesn’t have to just be physical. The connection can mean finding someone who understands you, someone you can talk to, someone with whom you can share interests. These connections don’t just have to be from one person. While technology and social media do have the potential to disconnect us, they can also connect us with others when used correctly. So go out and find connections the best you can.
- Be Intentional
Have intent when you are on your journey to nourishing yourself. Take the time needed, slow down, don’t rush. Make it a priority, even if you can only commit to five minutes a day at first. Something is better than nothing. Make a simple ritual or habit to help solidify it into your routine.
Find ways to laugh often. They say laughter is, after all, the best medicine.
- Get Into Nature
Get out into nature, immerse yourself in the senses. Feel the ground beneath you, smell the air around you, hear the rustle of leaves and the chirping of birds, taste (safely) the edible things around you. Take the time to let the energy of nature fill you up. Play in the rain, listen to the thunder, admire the lightning. Be awestruck by the power of the wind and the crash of the waves.
Take some time to reflect on how to be the best version of yourself, what you are grateful for, what you want in life. Dive into shadow work. Shadow is the unconscious aspects of our personalities, the unknown sides of ourselves that may or may not be driving everyday actions, thoughts, and beliefs.
- Take a Break
Make time to rest and relax. Doing nothing is just as important as being productive. So take a breather often to just be in the moment, nothing else. Just be in the here and now.
- Learn Something New
Learning new things can be so enriching. According to Michael Scott, “The day we stop learning is the day we die.” This quote is so true. What are we here to do besides learn?
- Be Kind
When all else fails, being kind to someone else or helping someone else out can not only brighten our day, but it can brighten someone else's, and there is nothing more soul-enriching than that.