What is self-care?
The definition might seem like a no brainer. I mean, what's there to get about taking care of yourself? BUT sometimes we might feel like it's not that simple. Yeah, it means making sure you have food in your stomach, that you bathe daily, and even get a good amount of sunlight. Self-care can be so much more than that! It helps you to determine how to treat yourself and others around you. For many of us, we are providers for our families, friends, coworkers, and countless other people. It can take a lot out of us! Self-care enables us to continue doing for others while we give back to ourselves. We can't pour from an empty cup, and self-care provides us with the opportunity to pour back into ourselves. I might seem a little bit bias when I say this, but self-care IS the BEST care!
But how do I practice?
There are many ways that we can participate in self-care. I'm going to list a few for you here!
Our mental and physical health depend greatly on the things we put in our bodies as fuel and how we release energy. For you, that might mean changing what you eat like having less processed foods, or adding a salad a day to your diet. Maybe you decide to take a brisk walk every morning, or weight-lift every day. Whatever that looks like for you, do it .
Creating a Consistent Schedule
This will help you to stay on task and get what you need done on time! Using a schedule has personally helped me to ensure that I'm actually participating in consistent self-care. I use this strategy to "pencil" in time to take care of myself. That way, it's not constantly getting pushed back by other activities that I might THINK are more crucial. Remember, your self care is just as important as anything else you have planned.
Developing Healthy Spending Habits
I know how good a well balanced check book can feel. When all your bills are taken care of, you've put some money off to the side for a rainy day, and you still have extra funds to do things you enjoy *chef's kiss*. Then you can have a nice dinner out with family and friends, or spending money on a hobby without feeling guilty about your spending! Try having a well kept financial log to track your purchases, earnings, and savings. Putting even a dollar a day away can help you to work towards a more balanced pocketbook and mindset. Create a plan that works well with your income and spending habits. Monitor them daily to ensure you're getting the most out of your checks. Planning ahead is key!
Checking in on Your Physical Health
Self-care is so much more than just working with repetitive, negative thoughts. You have to take care of your body, too! Eating healthy and exercise isn't always enough. Make sure you're having regular visits with your doctor. Taking vitamin supplements and prescribed medications are also great ways to keep your body in check. Imbalances in hormones may also play a role in overall well-being.
Getting Healthy Amounts of Sleep
So many people are putting off getting good amounts of sleep because of their hectic lifestyles. I completely understand the appeal! I would stay up late playing video games and scrolling through instagram. Then I realized something, I wasn't getting much done and was wasting precious time! Not having a consecutive sleep schedule throws your circadian rhythm out of wack and has negative effects on your physical and mental health. SO, turn off electronics 1-2 hours before bed, and plan to get 6-8 hours of sleep at the same time each night. Your body will thank you in a week or two.
Keeping a log of our feelings, jotting down a to-do, or keeping a list of positive affirmations are all great ways to utilize a pen and paper. OR you can have a well kept note on your phone that provides you the opportunity to self-reflect, ask yourself questions, and answer them rationally and honestly. Personally, journaling has provided me space to question and explore my core beliefs/values. Others have utilized journals to keep lists of gratitude or create vision boards. Really, this is where you can let your imagination run rampant!
Participating in a Hobby
Knitting, crochet, flower pressing, video games, reading, joining a dance class, and gardening are just a few examples of finding a hobby that you can utilize to improve your self-care and mental health. Keeping active with something you enjoy helps you to get the most out of your time, feel accomplished, and it gives you something to show off! Whether you decided to create, go out in nature/community, or exercise/get physical, find something that you enjoy, have a passion for, and offers you fulfillment.
Planning a Vacation
This is a bigger form of self-care and might require a lot more planning/preparation. A vacation could be something you may require to separate yourself from the pressures of everyday life. This also may require some financial self-care to save for any additional spending you'd like to partake in. If going someplace exotic is too much for you, plan a small get away at a hotel located one town over. As long as you're taking time away from your busy lifestyle, who really cares where you go?
This one's really fun! Here, you can take a long bath, listen to some jams, meditate, use aromatherapy, or ground yourself. (Of course these are only a few examples) Do whatever you can to prioritize yourself and get some peace (and sometimes quiet).
No is not selfish! Self-care IS the best care because for a certain amount of time you're PRIORITIZING YOURSELF! No, I'm not saying completely shut yourself off from the world or create boundaries that are IMPOSSIBLE to allow others within your circle. Just take some time to do something nice for yourself. When practiced regularly, you can create an escape from providing for others and provide for yourself instead.
so, there you have it!
Engaging in self-care can be tricky sometimes. You might find yourself asking "Do I have time for this?" "Will others disapprove?" "Am I even doing this right?" There's really no good or bad time/right or wrong way of doing this. Find what works best for you and stick with it. The key to self-care is consistency. If you're okay with doing for others, why not do for yourself?
Remember, Self-Care Is The Best Care!