Self-care is an action or activity that is done for the purpose of taking care of our mental, emotional and physical health.
Even though this sounds simple enough, it is not always as easy to do as some may think and can be easily overlooked. It has been shown that good self-care is key in improving our moods and reducing anxiety. It is also key in forming healthy relationships with ourselves and others.
What self-care is not:
It is important to understand what self-care is and what it isn’t. A key concept to keep in mind is that self-care is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something that we find tasking. Self-care can then be explained as something that recharges and refreshes us, rather than something that drains our energy and our motivation.
Self-care is also not solely about our own needs as individuals. It is more than considering our needs, but rather about knowing what we need to do to take care of ourselves so that we are also able to take care of other individuals as well.
There are three main rules when it comes to self-care:
Keep it simple: Over time you will find your own way of incorporating self-care into your routine. Over time, and with practice, you will be able to include more activities and identify more forms of self-care that will work for you.
Self-care needs to be planned as opposed to something that just happens: It is important that self-care is an active choice. To help stick to a self-care plan, put items into your calendar or agenda, tell others and keep them involved to increase your commitment, and take initiative to seek out opportunities to practice self-care.
Keep a Conscious mind: Simply put, if you don’t view something as self-care or don’t take action to take care of yourself, it won’t work as such. Try to be mindful of what you are doing, why you are doing it, how it makes you fell, and what positive outcome are associated.
Even though self-care will look different for each individual, there is a simple checklist that can be followed:
Create a “NO” list, with things you know you don’t like or you don’t want to do. Examples could be: Not checking emails at night, not being on your phone before bed, or not attending gatherings you don’t like.
HEALTH!! Promote a balanced and healthy diet.
SLEEP!! On average, adults usually need 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
EXERCISE!! Exercise has been shown to be just as good for our emotional/mental health as it is for our physical health. It can help to improve mood and energy. As mentioned earlier, make sure to choose a form of exercise that you like!
SEE YOUR DOCTOR!! It is not uncommon to put off your regular checkup or visits to the doctor. However, regular maintenance in this sense is a vital part to being happy and healthy.
PRACTICE!! Practice using relaxation exercises and/or meditation to help with self-care. Exercises such as breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation are convenient because you can do them at any time of the day.
STAY CONNECTED!! Spending quality time with your loved ones is also a vital part in staying level, happy and healthy.
DO ONE THING DAILY!! Try to aim for at least one relaxing activity every day, whether it’s taking a walk or spending 30 minutes unwinding.
MAKE IT WORTHWHILE!! Try to incorporate at least one activity that you find pleasure in each day, whether it be going to the movies, playing video games with friends, reading, cooking or getting together with friends.
SMILE!! Look for opportunities around you to loosen up and laugh!
To start, challenge yourself to set up a 15 day self-care routine. Keep track of the positive changes that are noticed, and see how you feel before and after. Lastly, the most important point to keep in mind is that self-care, as with anything, takes practice!