I have touched on self-care before, but haven’t really explained what self-care is. It sounds obvious, self-care is looking after ourselves, isn’t it? Well, yes. But it is a little more than just looking after ourselves.
What is self-care?
Psych Central explains it succinctly and simply:
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Note the word deliberately.
We are good at taking care of our basic needs. Food, water, shelter, social and physical needs. It’s the other needs that often fall by the wayside. Self-care is a deliberate act of doing something in order to look after ourselves. It could be taking time out and having a hot bath with a good book. Maybe turning off our devices and going for a walk in nature. It’s things like these that enable us to look after our mental and emotional health.
Self-care isn’t something that we force ourselves to do and it isn’t doing something that we don’t enjoy doing. It should refuel us, not take from us.
Don’t even think that self-care is selfish. It is knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves. This then ensures that we have enough in ourselves to take care of others.
How can we ensure we look after ourselves?
Self-care is the key to living a balanced life.
- Stick to the basics. Start small and figure out what works for you personally. Everyone will be different as to what works for them.
- Self-care is something that you actively plan. It is not something that just happens. Self-care is a deliberate act, pop it in your calendar or actively look for opportunities to practice it.
- Keeping a conscious mind. Think, ‘this is my self-care time’.
- Create a “non-negotiable list’ a list of things that you have to do each day, such as no checking emails after a certain time, putting the phone away for a certain amount of time each day, getting in at least 15 minutes of exercise a day. Work out your non-negotiables and write them down
- After you have created your “non-negotiable list” create a “no” list of things you know you don’t like or no longer want to do. Things that make you unhappy or you know aren’t good for you.
- Look after yourself with a good diet, enough sleep and regular exercise.
- Practice relaxation or meditation.
- Make time for loved ones.
Why is self-care important?
Self-care is important so we have enough in ourselves to give to others. It isn’t a selfish thing at all, in fact, it is just as important as our physical well-being. Maybe even more so. We are more likely to burn out, feel stressed and overwhelmed and become unfocused if we don’t put our own selves first regularly.
When we practice regularly looking after ourselves we have the energy, the focus and the mental energy to tackle tasks. Whether that’s work, family, friends or something else.
Ideas for self-care
- Grabbing your favourite book and soaking in a nice, hot bubble bath
- Taking time out each day to practice meditation or other relaxation techniques
- Getting out into nature (this is my self-care place)
- Turning off your phone and computer and putting on a movie
- Get a professional massage
- Reading your favourite book (even if it is the 7th time)
- Pick up a hobby just for you
- Write in a daily gratitude journal
- Put on some music, let go and dance
- Do 20 minutes of pilates or yoga a day
- Read these 15 easy self-care ideas for more inspiration (click the link here)
I have only just realised the importance of self-care. I used to neglect it, thinking that I wasn’t important enough. But I have come to realise, if I don’t look after myself, no one else will. It doesn’t take much but it does take a shift in thinking. Looking after ourselves is a deliberate act we should undertake regularly. We need to think, “I am taking time out just for me because if I don’t, I am going to burn out”. Do something specifically for self-care, it can’t just be an incidental moment. It is a conscious decision.
The way I personally practice self-care is by taking time out and heading into nature. This is my happy place, the place where my soul is soothed and I feel at peace. Other people may think that this is the last place that they would like to be. Just as I would rather eat my own toes than go shopping (probably someone else’s happy place). Each person will practice self-care differently. What works for someone may not work for the next. It is a personal experience, one that is tailored to each individual.
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