What is self-care and what does it really mean to practice it?
Self-care has been a hot topic these days and has been at the forefront of managing one’s well-being. It has almost become a blanket term as it is used to describe multiple groups of related things. So what is self-care? Self-care can be defined by the term itself- caring for yourself. Each person is different and each person requires care differently. An individual person can also need different forms of self-care depending on what they are currently dealing with. What one person may need one day is not what they may need the next. Practicing self-care isn’t a “one-and-done” event either. It is a lifelong journey of constantly discovering what your body, mind, and spiritual being need and then providing that to oneself. Self-care means we commit to taking an active role in safeguarding our mental and physical wellness.
Why should self-care be a priority?
In a society in which people are expected to work long hours and pass on vacation days, there is an underlying belief that we must always be productive – which can ultimately take away from opportunities for self-care. By taking some time out to engage in self-care, you may relieve the pressures of everyday life and reset yourself to get back to a healthy point where productivity is once again maximized. Operating at maximum without stopping to tend to your own needs comes with significant consequences, which may include burnout, depression, anxiety, resentment, and a whole host of other negative implications. Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, and improve energy. From a physical health perspective, self-care has been proven to reduce heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Spiritually, it may help keep us in tune with our higher power as well as realize our meaning in life.
How can I take care of myself?
Practices like buying yourself flowers and treating yourself to a bubble bath can be important, and self-care can also mean maintaining healthy boundaries, honoring your commitment to yourself, aligning yourself with your highest good, and releasing those things that no longer contribute to your own growth. Self-care includes anything you do to keep yourself healthy – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Although prioritizing self-care may sound like common sense, especially if you’re considering longevity, it’s often the first thing to go when we find ourselves in challenging situations. This is why it is important to keep it top of mind and not an afterthought, especially when we find ourselves in challenging times.
Additionally, self-care can look like emotional support. Talking to someone, reflecting, journaling, listening to music, or doing something artistic. It can look like crying it out, hugging someone, cuddling, or taking a nap. It can be environmental and look like taking a walk, breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sun on your skin, or rearranging your space. Self-care can also be learning something new or taking classes. It can be working out, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy, obviously. And, not so obviously, it can look like being social and catching up with a friend, polishing up a resume to be sent, or even taking 10 minutes at night to mindfully wash your face and brush your teeth. It’s in taking actions that make us feel whole, safe and loved that one can truly provide self-care