Self care is a term you may be hearing on people's lips lately. It may sound like a pleasant phrase to many of us who do so much for our families and spouses and give so much of ourselves to others. However, the concept of self care can also be quite intimidating--especially if you don't know quite where to start. First, remember that it's a great way to reconnect with your own needs and reenergize your motivation to help both yourself and others along the way.
Is self care something that comes naturally, or can you learn how to practice it in your everyday life? How do you know what type of self care is best for you? And is self care... gasp... selfish?
But first thing's first:
What is self care?
Self care is defined in the dictionary as "care of the self without medical or other professional consultation." So in other words, it's taking care of your physical, mental and emotional well-being in ways that don't include doctors. As you can imagine, this goes much deeper than "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."
Experts say, that its core, self-care means choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors.
Certainly, eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle play roles in self care when you're totally stressed. But they aren't the only factors. After all, it's possible to eat an apple and do a half-hour on the treadmill and still feel emotionally drained afterward (we've certainly been there!).
How to practice self care?
When you're stressed, self care is the way to go. Besides getting your fruit and veggie intake and getting off the couch for a nice long walk or bike ride, it's also important to make sure you're getting enough sleep. Beyond the very basic tenets of self care, experts have many suggestions, so don't feel pressured to have your self care routine set up immediately. It takes time to learn what self care works best for you. Different methods work for different people, so if one doesn't work, feel free to switch to another!
Getting in touch with your core values can help you relax. Whether this means taking time out for prayer, meditation, or even just some quiet time, it can serve as an important reminder to yourself about what really matters.
Doing a task that you've been putting off or challenging your brain by trying a new healthy activity you've never done before can give you a major mental boost when you feel like you've been stuck in a rut.
Making a habit of checking in with yourself can help with managing your current status of stress. Experts suggest asking yourself critical questions like, "Are you working too much? Do you feel tapped out? What do you need to take away, and what would you like to add?"
Scheduling healthy and enjoyable activities ahead of time, like massages or yoga, can be a wonderful way to relax and unwind even in the midst of a busy schedule. Plus, having it in ink will give you something to look forward to!
Creating a "gratitude list" of everything you're thankful for can help bring you joy when you're feeling down and out. If you keep the list ongoing, you might find you have more to add as time passes!
Developing a personal mission statement can help you clearly define what's most important to you as an individual. And taking some time to reflect on it can help you achieve those very things!
An important reminder: It may seem selfish at first to focus so much on yourself in this way. After all, it has "self" in the title. But self care is so essential to improving your quality of life, and in doing so, think of how you can help improve the quality of so many other people's lives afterward. When you reach your personal best, you can encourage others to find theirs as well. You're worth it.