Soul Care — How to Practice This Deepest Form of Self-Care
I congratulate you! You’re doing very well at incorporating a self-care routine into your busy lives. You’re eating better, sleeping longer and deeper, and exercising more. And it’s paying off! You tell me that you have more energy and feel so much better. I’m proud of you. But may I bring to your attention a trend I see? People are trying to steal a few moments to cram self-care into the busyness of life, which ultimately diminishes or negates the intention of self-care. The result I’m seeing is that this approach doesn’t allow space for soul care.
What is soul care?
Soul care is the profound lifestyle shift into mindful self-awareness, internal enrichment, and forging meaningful connections. It encompasses a series of practices that nourish the spirit, foster self-awareness, and nurture emotional well-being. They include:
Intention and Mindfulness: Soul care hinges on nurturing introspection and reflective contemplation of emotions, needs, thoughts, and experiences. This deliberate focus aims at attuning ourselves to our inner world and comprehending our driving forces and motivations.
Distinguishing Needs from Wants: There’s a saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”. In our culture buying stuff is how many people cope with emotional stress and boredom. It hits you with a dopamine rush from instant gratification, but long-term? Not so much. Mindfully assessing if it’s a need or want puts you in the driver’s seat. Soul care involves discerning impulsive desires versus needs that genuinely nourish you.
Embracing Discomfort: Your inner person becomes stronger when you confront discomfort head-on, acknowledging that growth often emerges from challenges, self-examination, and vulnerability. What might seem like discomfort or pain is often the initial step towards healing, recovery, and liberation.
Letting Go & Giving Up: Rise above the tendency to accumulate clutter in your mind and home. Assess the value of what’s in your life and let go of what’s unwanted or harmful. We benefit from learning to trust ourselves and the processes and systems we’ve put into place in our lives. This allows us to gradually relinquish the urge to control every facet of our lives.
Seek Results, not Bandaids: Unlike superficial self-indulgences, true soul care doesn’t aim to momentarily escape internal wounds and unmet needs. Instead, it’s a patient journey focused on long-term internal healing, awareness, and freedom from quick fixes that can make these issues worse.
Connection and Empathy: Soul care expands beyond self-focus. As you engage in this inner work, your capacity to perceive the humanity in others increases, fostering compassion and empathy. You’ll find joy in meeting others’ needs, especially in areas you’ve personally experienced. Look for opportunities to extend acts of kindness that build true community.
Bookend Your Day. The way you start and end your day influences how today and tomorrow will unfold. Quiet time for soul care, before others awaken, brings clarity. And alone time at night, like walking outside and saying good night to the stars, helps you decompress for a good night’s sleep and reset for the next day. Your soul-care quiet rituals have a ripple effect as they train you to slow down and look for the beauty in the world around you.
Natural Harmony. If you have Farmers Markets in your community, get to know the growers and the way their produce is cared for. If you’re new to seasonal eating, start paying attention to what’s growing and embark on the adventure of preparing a meal from seasonal food. Ready for a deeper connection with the earth? Plant some herbs and veg and see how eating something you’ve grown makes you feel!
Big Picture Thinking. How you live and what you consume or throw away impacts the earth. The earth is a closed, self-healing system. If we overload the system, the healing process is hindered. What we do matters. Try to live in a way that benefits both the environment and your fellow human beings.
In a world fixated on appearances and immediate gratification, genuine soul care grows from a heart full of courage, introspection, and a sincere commitment to our inner well-being. It’s about embarking on a purposeful journey of self-discovery, growth, and lasting contentment that transcends momentary pleasures, emphasizing a deeper introspection, acknowledgment of inner wounds, and dedication to practices fostering holistic growth.
Can soul care be achieved in moments we steal from our busy lives? No, it requires a self-care mindset — a lifestyle shift to a deliberate, mindful, intentional pace that recognizes the ebb and flow of the natural world.
In Italy, we have a phrase,” la dolce vita” meaning the sweet life. Some have translated this to mean a self-indulgent life, but to us, it means knowing how to slow down and live in harmony with the cycles of the earth. It means mindfully observing, experiencing, and savoring each moment to the full as you create a life you absolutely love. In the U.S. this concept is captured in the phrase “Slow Living”.
Realistically, the past is gone, we can’t change it. And the future hasn’t happened yet. All we have is the present moment. I urge you to put your cell phone down or walk away from your computer right now and see what’s happening in the world outside. I mean it, take 5 minutes and go outside, because that’s what I’m doing right now.
How did the sun feel? What sounds did you experience? What aromas were sailing past on the wind? Who did you see? Was there someone you hugged or smiled at? (I hugged my cat and I could feel myself relaxing.) Did breathing in the fresh air loosen the tightness of your shoulders? Give you more energy? Did you immediately come back to your device or did you go on to another project? How did that moment enrich your life? (I saw gorgeous trees and heard a large flock of geese migrating due to the season changing. It made me reflect on what changes I want to make before this year ends)
I started paying attention to the processes and systems that created the greatest impact on my life. Some are seemingly insignificant; some are major breakthroughs. Combined, they form a road map for my Dolce Vita. If you’ve enjoyed this article, I invite you to subscribe to my once-a-month newsletter, so you get an opportunity to read all of my articles.