Self-care is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of elevated stress.” This practice is essential in maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It allows your body to produce positive feelings while boosting your confidence and self-esteem. People who practice a healthy level of self-care are more well-equipped to “tackle the world” since they typically have better self-esteem and a more positive outlook. It is no secret that this has been a more challenging year than most and the unusual levels of stress that many of us have been experiencing can make it easier to overlook the necessity of caring for yourself. We are going to look at the Why’s & How’s to Self-Care today.
We’ve already touched on the “why?” of self-care but let’s elaborate just a little. When you maintain a healthy relationship with yourself, you are better able to transmit positive healthy feelings out to the rest of the world which will attract even more positive healthy feelings back to you. Speaking of feelings, a critical part of self-care is allowing yourself to feel ALL of your feelings. You do not have to be happy all of the time no matter what society says. Life naturally throws you lemons from time to time and you’re entitled to feel sad or angry or hurt about that. Life is about balance… the yin and the yang. You cannot truly experience happiness unless you have some sadness with which it can be compared. Another reason it is essential to tune into our feelings is because ultimately it helps us make smarter decisions. Pausing, reflecting, and taking stock of sensations throughout your body during specific situations will allow you to start making cognitive connections to the feelings you have in response to them. Our emotions serve as messengers to our brain, alerting us that it’s time to pay attention to something. As you develop this skill, you will be able to use your intuition and learned experience to better navigate life’s challenges.
Scientists agree that we are all less able to manage stress and the challenges of everyday life while we’re feeling depleted from physical and emotional exhaustion. I want to point out that nothing will ever be more important to your overall well-being than a healthy diet and exercise. However, the relaxation one experiences as a result of some self-pampering can trigger a “relaxation response,” which CAN prevent chronic stress from damaging your health. So, it is safe to say that the techniques we are going to look at next are good for you both inside and out. Take notes!
I’ve already mentioned that the two best things you can do to properly care for yourself are eating a healthy diet and getting ample exercise. So those go directly to the top of the list. In my opinion, here are some other really important ones that are high-rankers. Get a good night’s sleep… not just once in a while but as consistently as possible. I get it. You have kids to care for, a house to clean, groceries that aren’t going to cook themselves, and a 40 hour work week outside the home. This is when you also get your children into good sleep hygiene. Get them on a schedule, lay bedtime ground rules with consequences if broken, and be ready to hit the hay when they do. You can also get your spouse involved. You don’t have to be the only one who soothes your crying baby, makes breakfast, or sees the kids off to school. Also, find a source of healthy takeout food for nights when cooking is going to compromise your sleep schedule. There are options. You just have to put them to use.
Practice meditation/deep breathing. If you’re at work, take just 5 minutes to go into a quiet room without distractions. Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands on your lap, palms facing upward. Close your eyes and just rest for a moment. Then breathe in the following fashion: breathe in deeply through your nose to a count of 5, hold for 5 seconds, & breathe out through your mouth to a count of 6. Then repeat 2-3 more times. You may also make a soft “om” sound to help keep your mind as still as possible for those few moments. Then open your eyes slowly and offer yourself some mindful compassion. For example, “may I be kind to myself in this moment” or “I am worthy of this moment of rest.” Deep breathing and positive affirmations work miracles for both our bodies and our minds. Use these unlimited FREE resources to your advantage. You can also take a walk in nature while practicing mindfulness. That simply means that while you’re on your walk that you keep your mind present in the moment and don’t allow it to be distracted by regrets of the past or fear of the future. But don’t forget your breathing! That is always important.
Here’s a glance at some other insanely useful resources that are both limitless and free. SLOW DOWN!!! The term, “take time to smell the roses” has great meaning. It means that we may be here on Earth for just a short time. Stop rushing through everything and take time to enjoy yourself even amongst the chaos. You should also carefully choose who you spend your time with since our time may be limited. Choosing to surround yourself with positive people who add something to your life is an extremely healthy thing to do. If they’re funny, even better! Because belly laughing is also a form of self-care that is frequently overlooked. Some other things that are free and always available to you are: learn to say “NO” without an apology, resist overthinking things that are clearly out of your control, and drink plenty of water.
Sure! Things like taking a luxurious bath in a huge soaker tub with candles, essential oils, and rose petals is awesome. If you have it, do it! But self-care doesn’t always have to look that elaborate. And if you’re not one to exercise every single day as you should, you can do plenty of other things to assist in taking care of your physical self which will greatly affect your mental self. Get a therapeutic massage, go for that chiropractic adjustment, stretch your muscles, etc. And last but certainly not least, CHOOSE TO MAKE TIME FOR YOU. There’s nobody who is more worthy! Now go love yourself 😊
“Breathe. Let go. And remember that self-care means giving the world the BEST of you instead of what’s left of you.”
-VeryWellMind.com (self-care for health and stress management)
-PerimeterHealthCare.com (why self-care is so important)
-Forbes.com (practicing self-care is important)
-PsychologyToday.com (the art of self-care)
-TalkSpace.com (difference between feelings and emotions)