What is self-care?
Self-care, or the identification of your personal needs and making the effort to meet those needs, is an extremely important (and often forgotten) practice nowadays. Many sources of stress are experienced regularly, including work-related pressure, financial duress, mental and emotional stress, and more. Typically, when we feel overwhelmed, the first thing we give up is self-care. In reality, this should be the first thing we address as it is too easy to forget and the fallout can have detrimental effects on our overall well-being.
Self care activities
Often, taking some time to partake in an activity we enjoy will benefit our physical, mental, and/or emotional health. In turn, this will have a positive effect on our overall mood, can result in decreased anxiety, and help refuel our minds and bodies. Practicing self-care means setting aside time in our busy schedules to engage in an activity that we find enjoyable. This can be something as simple as reading a book, going on a walk, or calling a friend or family member. It is too common to place our own needs on the back burner to “push through,’ but this is harmful in the long run.
Avoiding this practice can result in burnout, exhaustion, and/or illness. Taking even just a little bit of time to yourself will keep you functioning well under pressure, help to refocus your mind, and prevent you from reaching that point of exhaustion. Keep in mind, self-care is not selfish—it is knowing how to better care for ourselves!
What are the benefits of self-care?
Committing to yourself via the practice of self-care is extremely beneficial to your overall mental, physical, and emotional health. Check out the list below if you don’t believe me!
Boosts the immune system and enhances physical well-being
Preparing/eating nourishing food, taking our vitamins, sleeping 7-8 hours every night, setting aside time to meditate or self-reflect, and incorporating exercise into our routine are all ways to practice self-care. Living a healthy and well-balanced life will stimulate the antibodies that protect your body from illness/disease, as well as maintain your physical and mental health.
Taking time for yourself is an extremely important aspect of self-care. Caring for yourself will make you feel better, no matter what internal or external stressors you may be dealing with. Just think of how you would treat a friend or family member: if you wouldn’t treat them the way you’re treating yourself, you are being too hard on yourself. I recommend taking a step back from the situation, practicing some deep breathing, counting to ten, and then re-evaluating the situation and your attitude towards yourself. Be nice to yourself!
Enables you to define your identity
Allowing yourself to participate in activities that bring you joy may help you discover or rediscover interests you may not have considered before, or forgotten about. This may enable you to reestablish who you are and who you want to be and break down barriers of self-doubt that may be preventing you from achieving your full potential!
The famous expression goes ‘look good, feel good, do good,’ and it could not be more true. If you practice self-care tactics, you will feel so much better, which will pay it forward to your productivity! Learning to say no to commitments that you are either not interested in or that would overwhelm you is a good way to start this process. You may even realize that certain situations or relationships in your life were taking your attention away from what you place value in. Therefore, self-care can help redefine your priorities and yield outcomes you may never have believed possible before!
Improves your capacity for personal relationships
The biggest stigma surrounding self-care is that it’s a selfish act. This is not true whatsoever – if we overload ourselves, we have less time and energy for others. By putting ourselves first and dealing with our baggage healthily and sustainably, we may expand our capacity for other important relationships without sacrificing our happiness. Keep in mind, it is not selfish to take time for ourselves; instead, prioritizing our own needs will positively impact significant relationships in your life!
But How Do I Start Practicing Self-Care?
Start small and with the basics
Anything as simple as taking 15 minutes to do a face mask to spending a couple of hours colouring in an adult colouring book can be considered self-care. It’s just about finding what works for you during whatever time you have set aside for yourself. Try out some new activities, even if you’re not completely confident! You may surprise yourself and discover a new interest!
Make a plan.
Self-care should not be random—you should have an idea of when and for how long you plan to spend on your activity! This way, you won’t skip your “me-time” or make excuses about having no time for yourself. Try making a list of things you would like to try or things you’ve been interested in the past but have never found the time for. Keep yourself accountable to your list and your designated self-care time! It truly will make all the difference.
Know what works for you and what doesn’t.
Consider how your self-care activities make you feel. Those that make you feel worse should be removed from your schedule; doing something you don’t enjoy is a waste of your time and energy! Focus instead on experiences that are exciting, fun, and relaxing for you. Ensure you pay close attention to how certain things affect your overall mood, and stick with what makes you feel refreshed and contented!
There you have it! Now that you know the importance of practicing self-care and the benefits associated with it, get started on your list of activities you’ve always wanted to do, and start putting your mental, emotional, and physical health first! You’ve got this!