We’ve all heard the term “self-care”. Some people think it’s a fad. Others think it’s a phrase to mask being self-indulgent and greedy. While this may be true for some people, others (the ones using self-care properly) know the true importance of taking care of yourself — both mind and body. Not only does our mental health directly affect our physical (and vice versa), but without putting yourself first in life, you’re unable to give yourself fully to anyone or anything. So before you judge someone else who admits to practicing self-care, read this article. Here you’ll find out exactly what self-care is (and isn’t), why it’s important, and how to practice it in your everyday life.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the deliberate act of taking care of yourself. It’s different from daily necessities like brushing your teeth, eating, and showering. Self-care is about listening to what your mind and body need to stay happy and healthy. It’s also about taking care of your whole self — body, mind, and spirit. When you take time to invest in your physical, emotional, and mental health, each one benefits from the other. Not only will you experience an improved relationship with others, but also with yourself.
What Self-Care Isn’t
So you’re not confused, let’s briefly discuss what behaviors don’t fall under the category of self-care. First off, if you’re forcing yourself to do something and categorizing under the title “self-care”, it’s not. Do you find yoga uncomfortable and struggle to tune in with your breathing? If it feels like a chore every time you grab your mat and head to the studio, chances are this isn’t the right self-care activity for you — and that’s okay! Self-care should be something that breathes new life into you and leaves you feeling better than you did before. Not something that sucks the life out of you or feels like an inconvenience. It’s also important to note that self-care looks different for everyone. What fuels someone else might drain you. What you find relaxing might irritate someone else. Don’t compare yourself or your self-care journey to others. This is something unique and individual to you.
This next tip might be difficult for some, but it’s important not to view self-care as being selfish. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Practicing self-care doesn’t happen at the cost of anyone else. You don’t need to neglect others or their feelings in order to take care of yourself. It’s about knowing what you need and want from life and gifting that to yourself. In turn, this allows you to be a better friend, partner, and person to others.
Why is Self-Care Important?
Okay, so you have a good idea of exactly what self-care is but now you might be thinking, “So what?” It’s far too easy to get caught up in everyday life and put our personal needs aside. So much so that you might ignore that nagging headache you’ve been having, an irregular heartbeat, or that twinge in your back. When it comes to your health and well-being, you can’t afford to ignore these things or any other signs that something’s wrong. But signs don’t always present themselves physically. Have you been crying a lot lately or feeling sad? Do you lack the ambition to socialize with your friends or apply yourself at your job? These are all signs of depression and need to be taken seriously.
Self-care is the best way to stay in-tune with your body. Practicing self-care means taking a few moments to stop and check-in with yourself. Take notice of how you’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally. Does something seem off? Are you just not feeling right? It may be a simple fix like taking some time off from work, going to bed earlier, or seeing a friend you’ve neglected. In more serious situations, your self-care practices might be telling you that something is medically amiss. Knowing this leads to early detection of countless illnesses and the ability to get the right treatment, fast!
How to Practice Self-Care
While all this information might feel slightly overwhelming, the good news is, practicing self-care is much easier than you might think. And what’s even better, is that there are a myriad of ways you can do it. Here are just a few suggestions for ways to practice self-care that don’t require a lot of time or effort.
Do a Body Scan
The best way to tune into yourself, both mind and body, is by performing a body scan each morning. This is often used as a tool in meditation, which is an excellent form of self-care. Lie down on your bed or stand in front of a mirror (although laying down might help you feel more relaxed) and close your eyes.
Start from the tips of your toes and move all the way to the top of your head. You won’t actually be moving during this process, but instead scan each part of your body mentally. Wiggle your feet and roll your ankles. Do they crack or feel painful? Imagine your eyes traveling up our legs — your calves first and then your thighs. Does anything feel tight or sore? When you get to your abdomen, place your hand over your stomach and take a moment to feel your breath. Take several deep breaths, holding for a few moments at the top, and then let the air gently escape your mouth. How did it feel? Did your lungs fill up fully or did something stop you from taking the deepest breath you could? Place your other hand on your heart and pay close attention to its rhythm. Is it beating fast and erratic or steady? Next, swallow. How does your throat feel? Is your head clear or filled with congestion? Last, flutter your eyes under your eyelids and focus your attention to your thoughts.
Are you feeling worried or concerned over something? Does work or your personal life have you stressed out? What exactly is bothering you? Once you can identify the root of your angst, you can accept it and then find ways to release it or handle it. Ignoring stress or anxiety only makes it worse. Confronting your stress is the best way to ride your mind and body of it. Need help centering yourself during this process? You can buy CBD online using a credit card to help calm your nerves, relax your mind, and tap into your inner thoughts.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
Another simple and positive way to start your day (and your journey to self-care) is practicing positive self-talk. Stand in front of your mirror and take a few minutes to look at your reflection and give yourself several compliments. Start with things like:
- You are strong
- You are capable
- You are intelligent
- You are beautiful
The more you repeat these things to yourself, the more likely you are to believe and embody them. This works wonders for your self-esteem and helps you approach the world with a more positive, open-mind. Positive self-talk can ward off feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem that might develop into depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts if left undetected.
Find a Hobby
Self-care is about finding something that makes you happy. Is there a hobby you used to enjoy but have neglected lately? Or perhaps something you’ve always wanted to try but have been putting off. Now is as good a time as any to start doing that thing you’ve been wanting to do for so long. Maybe it’s learning a new skill like painting or knitting. Or maybe it’s something more physical like learning to ballroom dance or kayak. Take the time to teach yourself a new skill or adopt a hobby that acts as stress-relief. And don’t be afraid to switch things up. If one thing used to give you pleasure but no longer does, swap it out for something new or different.
Incorporating exercise into your self-care routine is about more than just staying fit or losing weight (although these are important for some people as well!). Exercise helps you body release feel good chemicals known as endorphins. These endorphins help improve your mood and relieve stress. Not only that, but exercise also helps reduce your risk of common ailments including heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. Make exercise fun by doing something you enjoy like swimming, hiking, or rock climbing!
Purge Negativity from Your Life
When it comes to self-care, removing negativity from your life is a must. Unfortunately, this often comes in the form of people you once considered friends. If your circle of friends doesn’t support your self-care efforts or no longer serve you in a positive way, it’s okay to move on. You don’t need to be rude about it. Simply continue doing the things you enjoy and slowly, over time, you may find yourselves drifting apart. Allow yourself to use the power of the word “no”. This is often difficult for those who try to please everyone. It’s okay to decline an invitation, say that you can’t help someone move or babysit their kids. While it feels good to lend a hand and you want to be a good friend, if the favor they’re asking is compromising your self-care time or your mental or physical health, it’s okay to say no (politely).
Congratulations! You now know exactly how to practice self-care and why you should. Self-care is about more than just making time for yourself. It’s about checking in with yourself regularly to make sure you’re staying on top of your physical, mental, and emotional health at all times.
Article Submitted By Community Writer