Self-care is a term that gets thrown around a lot in today’s culture. Whether it be at work, in blogs, during therapy, or in conversations with friends…we are hearing: “Are you taking care of yourself? What are you doing to get a break from life? Are you making time for self-care?” These are all wonderful and important questions.
But first, let’s answer the first one…what is self-care? Self-care is the practice of taking care of yourself first and foremost- body, mind and soul. When we don’t take care of ourselves we can feel exhausted, depleted and resentful. On the other hand, when we are practicing self-care, we tend to have more energy, feel better, think more clearly and make steps to accomplish our goals and live our values.
Something that is often left out is that self-care is unique to each individual person and can change as you change and your lifestyle changes. Self-care for me may include a bubble bath, yoga class and minimum 8 hours of sleep a night. A friend of mine needs to interact with her friends and family at least once a day and feel productive in some way. Another might need to exercise at least 20 minutes a day and journal as part of his morning routine.
Many things influence our self-care needs. What does your lifestyle look like? Do you work a 9-5 job? Do you work from home? Are you a full-time parent? Student? Do you have health concerns? Our personalities and temperaments also impact our needs. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you need to create? What is your energy level? Do you tend to be calm and grounded or hyperactive?
You do NOT need to answer these questions right now! Get curious…start to tune into yourself. Ask yourself right now…what am I needing right now? What is my body telling me? What is my mind signaling? What is my soul searching for? Continue to ask yourself these questions to learn what your needs are.
Next, it’s about committing to taking care of yourself. When we begin to make self-care a priority, some excuses may arise.
Excuses may include:
I don’t have time.
It won’t make a big difference.
It’s a waste of money.
I don’t know how.
Any of these excuses sound familiar? None of these excuses stick. Thinking that you don’t have time? Self-care takes on many forms and can be 1 minute out of your day. Think it’s selfish? You are more present to other’s in your life (your kids, friends, family, partner) when you are taking care of yourself and feeling good. Think it’s some mumbo-jumbo or won’t make a big difference in your life? When you are more in tune with yourself, you are quicker to find solutions, and have more courage to move toward your goals. Think it’s a waste of money? It doesn’t have to cost a thing! Self-care rarely takes the form of a vacation or spa day (sorry to disappoint.) Self-care can often be a thought, setting down your phone, or waking up ten minutes earlier. There are vast amounts of resources filled with ideas for practicing self-care in this blog and on the web.
Benefits of a healthy self-care practice:
Improves your mood.
Helps you feel revitalized and refreshed.
Clearer path (goals, values).
Better at letting small issues go.
Improves relationships with others.
You become more in tune with yourself and your needs.
Many of you reading this may not know where to begin. At first this practice can be overwhelming. Starting your day and ending your day can be great times to integrate daily self-care practices. And remember: This is a practice! You will have times where you feel like you aren’t doing it “right” or “well”. Get back to the drawing board, be self-compassionate and try again. None of us have perfect self-care all the time.
Gain some ideas by downloading this PDF.
Still not convinced? Commit to practicing one self-care practice each day and see if you start to reap some of the benefits.
More self-care and wellness practices to come!