In our culture, the go-to response when asked how we’re doing is often “Busy, I am just so busy.” I have yet to hear someone say “I am doing great because I invest time into self-care.”
Not taking care of ourselves because we are busy has become a status symbol, whether it means sleeping only five hours a night, or driving through fast food restaurants regularly instead of making healthy meals at home.
In The Self-Care Solution, author Suzy Reading encourages readers to think differently about how we live and offers practical suggestions for how to take care of ourselves in a busy world. We can run on empty for only so long before it catches up with us and we are no longer able to be “busy” because we have crashed and burned. Self-care is what keeps us out of the doctor’s office.
Reading opens The Self-Care Solution by sharing challenges from her own life, which lends extra credibility and makes it clear that the she is not just parroting what she has learned in a classroom. Having lived experience in a particular area makes any advice more valuable. Along with personal experience, Reading has a well-rounded approach with suggestions for “head, heart and body self-care” developed from her background as a psychologist, yoga teacher, and personal trainer.
Reading’s approach to self-care is about helping people become the best they can be. And that is important. It is not about becoming someone else — it is about becoming better versions of ourselves. And if we are honest, we all have room for improvement. On the off-chance that readers do not see the value of self-care, Reading briefly explains how a self-care practice benefits us at different stages of life, whether coping with challenges, recovering from tough times, or flourishing when things are good.
The premise of her book is that we benefit from addressing the eight parts of our self-care vitality wheel: sleep; rest; relaxation and breathing; movement and nutrition; coping skills; physical environment; social connection; mood boosters; goal-setting and accomplishment; and values and purpose. When these are in balance, we are taking an holistic approach to mind-body-spirit care.
“The vitality wheel helps you think more broadly about your nourishment — head, heart and body,” writes Reading.
The eight sections of the book — which are based on the eight parts of the vitality wheel — are independent, so there is no need to read them in order, or even to read them all. Readers can pick and choose parts of the wheel that they think they need the most help with.
One of my favorite sections is about how to relax without leaving our desks. For those who claim they do not have time to take care of themselves, this is one practice that proves them wrong. Whether it is taking gentle head turns to the right and to the left while sitting down, or simply rolling your shoulders, it is very easy to put many of these things into practice without any major disruptions to existing routines.
The Self-Care Solution is easy to work through independently and Reading’s suggestion of journaling throughout is a good one. It may also be helpful for counseling professionals to use in their practice. With clients who are so overwhelmed by their current life circumstances, the exercises are broken down into small sections that could be suggested as homework assignments in between counseling sessions. It could also work well in an 8-week group where members go through sections together each week.
I am not a fan of yoga — it’s not a practice that appeals to me — and Reading does use yoga principles in each section of the book. I felt there should also be a section on faith and spirituality, which is important to me. However, my personal preferences do not discount the value of the material as I am sure any reader may have a preference for sections to include or exclude.
The Self-Care Solution is an easy-to-read, user-friendly guide for practicing self-care and as the subtitle says, these are “smart habits and simple practices to allow you to flourish.”
Self-Care Solution: Smart Habits & Simple Practices to Allow You to Flourish
Octopus Publishing Group
Softcover, 224 pages