What Does Self-Care Mean to You?

Self-care is a trending idea, but truly it’s something many health and fitness professionals have been speaking about for decades. We know exercise is part of self -care. As Joseph Pilates said, “movement heals.” Everyone is recognizing how much movement and exercise contributes to our mental health. But what else contributes?

What does self-care mean to you?

I put this question to Retrofit teachers and staff in advance of our Self-Care celebration. As professionals in the health and wellness industry, it is both our passion and our job to guide and inspire our community  toward choices that promote well -being. Here’s what they had to say about self-care and self- compassion.

I’m prioritizing kindness to myself. I’m often go-go-go and this past year has forced me to slow down in more ways than one. With that has come feelings of not doing enough. So daily, I remind myself to pause, to take my dog on a walk, to look up and around, to breathe and be present. I also take time each weekend to do something I enjoy and take some time for me. Be it doing my nails or reading a book, whatever I want. I take that time without any guilt or judgement. – Shawn


I practice gratitude throughout my day. Just a small gesture that I have turned into a game. Every time I see a feather, I say, “Thank-you for my strength.” When I hear a siren, I say, “Thank you for the protection.” I write ‘thank you’ at the top of my receipts. On days I am feeling low, I write down 10 things I am grateful for, big and small, for example “I am grateful for the sunshine.”  With consistency, I start to notice how blessed my life is and I feel a little lighter. – Robyn


My self-care hinges on routine and acceptance. I wake up, go to sleep, and eat at pretty much the same time every day.  I prioritize my morning routine of meditation, reflection and exercise and try to leave time every evening to interact with family and friends – even if it’s just a text. In between I try to do the next right thing and continually remind myself that I cannot attain perfection even when it appears others might. – Barbara


My Pilates practice has taught me to become aware of the balancing act between my body and my brain’s needs and my physical and mental health. My daily routine to find this balance always includes good food, plenty of rest, fresh air and Pilates. Planning and journaling, reading and writing, reflective walks with my dog and regular exercise help me sort through life’s clutter and focus on what’s meaningful to me.  I actively make time for people and activities that inspire creativity, curiosity and laughter and that bring me energy and joy. – Joanna


I look forward to my evenings off because I have time to make myself dinner from start to finish. Preparing the meal is my meditation and an act of gratitude for my body carrying me through another day. – Carrie


My steaming morning latte; daily Zoom stretch sessions with my high school friend and her corgi; drives with my mom to the lake followed by ice cream at Tom’s Dairy Freeze; lots of water, fruit and veg.  A weekly stretch with friends from across the province, an apple fritter from San Remo, cheeseburgers. Family.  Food.  Friends.  These rituals are my self- care.  They have been constant throughout the pandemic and give me joy like nothing else. – Barbara C


Self-care right now is about saying no more often. I have simplified a lot of areas in my life out of necessity during the pandemic, and it’s made a big difference to my quality of life. Participating in writing challenges throughout the last 15 months has given me something to focus on each day, that sparks my imagination and gets me into a regular habit of doing something a) I already enjoy, and b) that provides a lot of satisfaction. While cooking for my family is a practical exercise, I find the rhythms of being in the kitchen and mastering recipes or techniques also help with stress management and regulating emotions—focusing on specific manual tasks and being present help to calm my nervous system. I also love listening to my favourite podcast (I Saw What You Did, a brilliant and funny film podcast) as a temporary escape. And Yin and Restorative Yoga have been key to treating my body right and getting a good night’s sleep. –  Pam


My self -care routine primarily consists of movement.  Movement means an exchange of energy for physical output.  The tattoo on my arm helps me explain what this idea means to me. “We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.”  Movement, or dance in this quote, is an expression (or release) of a variety of thoughts and feelings.  I move to keep all systems in balance.  Setting boundaries and asking for help is how I practice self -compassion. This is new for me. When I have to quiet my mind or to slow the fight or flight response in my body I practice something like box breathing: inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 8. – Ana


Since the pandemic I have been taking “little moments” to myself. Sometimes this means sitting quietly, being aware of my breath and thankful. It’s really effortless once you take a moment. We are so consumed with our busy lives and out of time but when I take my little moment, I feel more grounded. – Felicia