Self-care is a bit of a buzz word these days. But it’s for good reason. It’s a critical component of your well-being and should not be dismissed. But what does self-care really mean? It’s a simple concept, but in reality, it’s easy to overlook as we go about our busy lives and stressful schedules. So let’s take a deeper look at what this all means as you learn how to begin a self-care routine.
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What is self-care?
By definition, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health.
Sounds simple, right?
Well, the concept is. It’s the implementation that’s hard.
Let’s talk about what self-care isn’t.
A common misconception, but self-care is NOT selfish NOR self-serving. It’s about balance. You see, when you take care of yourself, you are able to better care for those around you.
Think of this analogy – you can’t fill anyone else’s cup if yours is empty.
Besides, one’s self is so much bigger than the individual. It includes everyone we encounter – family, friends, the community and even the strangers we pass by.
By taking care of yourself, you understand how to better take care of those around you. You become a more compassionate and engaged person and the world needs that. Just imagine what the world could be if everyone took such care!
Self-care is NOT something you can force. If it’s forced, that tends means you don’t enjoy it. And if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it’s really just draining you. Self-care should not drain – it should be refueling and nurturing.
Lastly, self care is NOT a quick-fix. It’s the actions you choose, practiced consistently, that provide long-term benefits.
Remember, self-care is a long-term pursuit with inevitable bumps along the way. Be realistic with yourself – you’re only human after all – and don’t be afraid to forgive.
Why should you take time for self-care?
By the definition, you can probably expect self-care to benefit your physical, emotional and mental health. And that’s correct.
Think – better moods, decreased anxiety and better personal relationships, to name a few. The benefits are astounding and worth the effort.
- Increased self-confidence.
- Reduced chronic stress.
- Improved capacity to help to others.
- Understand your self-worth.
- Healthy work – life balance.
- Better caregiver.
- Increased productivity.
- Improved compassion
- Reduced anxiety.
These are pretty amazing, huh?!
You might also be interested in: 6 Daily Habits to De-Stress Your Life.
So why doesn’t everyone just do it already?
Because despite all the benefits, self-care is difficult to maintain.
For starters, it’s hard for many because it’s not a quick fix – it requires long term dedication. Self-care isn’t about instant gratification, it’s about long term effort and work.
And society likes instant gratification. We want to feel good RIGHT NOW. But here you need patience to reap the rewards.
Self-care requires a plan and planning. It requires daily involvement. It’s about the deliberate choices you make, not things that happen by chance. As Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Another reason it’s hard? We’re just so busy.
And it’s hard to not feel guilty about taking time for you. But remember, you can’t fill someone else’s cup if yours is empty!
So how do you begin a self-care routine?
There are a few important components to a self-care routine.
- Have a plan. Think about what you want to make part of your self-care routine. It might begin as something as simple as taking a 5 minute break when you need it. Or eating greens daily. As your self-care routine becomes habit, you’ll find out what leaves you feeling refreshed and happy. Let it morph as necessary.
2. Schedule it. Put it in the calendar. Self care isn’t something that just happens; it’s something you MAKE happen.
3. Be mindful of your self-care. Be conscious that what you are doing is an act of self-care. You want to appreciate that what you’re doing is for your own self-care. It’s the intent and purpose that gives meaning to the activity at hand.
As you begin to incorporate a self-care routine into your life, be sure to listen to yourself. What do you need? What’s working and what isn’t?
Sometimes the greater good means giving up some vices. Yeah, I know. That’s hard for everyone. Trust me, I’m not without my own vices.
In your journey, know that self-care is not discriminatory. Gender, race and means are no matter. It’s one of the pillars to a balanced life, not a luxury only afforded to a select few.
It’s about the end goal, and the steps along the way. Do not expect a quick fix with immediate, long term results. I short-term feeling of accomplishment is great, though!
Here are some self-care ideas to get you started.
- Learn to say no.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Adequate medical care.
- Quality time with loved ones.
- A mini self-care vacatation.
- Scheduled “me time” each day.
- Spend time in nature.
- Go for a walk or jog.
- Read a book you enjoy.
- Keep a journal.
- Get a massage.
- Moments of deep breathing.
- Healthful diet.
- Mindful eating.
- Practice yoga.
You might also be interested in: How to Use Your Breath for Powerful Anxiety Relief.
This is how I incorporate self-care into my life.
It’s still a journey for me. But if my anxiety disorder (insert post) taught me anything, it’s that self-care is crucial to my well being. I definitely need downtime in my life. Built up stress seems to be the biggest trigger for my bouts of anxiety.
After work I’ll head to my front porch and sit in my rocking chair for a little bit. I realize that makes me sound like an old lady, but it’s oh so relaxing. Each spring I bring out the majority of my houseplants, making for a quaint little oasis.
As a family we enjoy camping trips to our state parks. With secluded sites and plenty of trails to hike, we bask in the serenity nature provides. All those sounds of nature and the sky peeking through the forest – it’s heaven to me!
I also keep a journal. Not so much for my random thoughts, but for the bits of advice, motivation, quotes and teachings that I’ve learned along the way.
Here are the 3 basics to creating a self-care routine are this:
- Plan what your self-care activity will be.
- Schedule your routine.
- Be mindful that your habits are for your own self-care.
Remember, while it might be difficult at times, it’s worth it. You are worth it.
What’s your favorite self care routine? How do you take care of yourself every day?