What is Self-care?
Self-care is simply defined as routine practices that promote overall health and wellbeing. Taking full responsibility for oneself. Each and every one of us needs a certain amount of care and nourishment if we wish to survive and thrive.
Maintaining good practices of self-care not only prevents unwanted health risks but also helps us maintain a good relationship with the self.
Self-care is essentially a counterpart of self-love.
Does practicing self-care mean I have to be selfish?
In short, NO.
Self-care has nothing to do with being selfish. It is a want and desire to strive for good health and wellbeing.
How could we possibly help others if we ourselves are running on empty?
All things need regular care.
Just like a car that needs regular maintenance to run well, likewise with a house that will need renovations and repairs over time. Even our favorite pets need love, attention, and care to live healthy and happy.
You see we are no different with the exception that we probably need to practice self-care more diligently and regularly than that which was stated above.
Although I see that modern technology has made life a lot more convenient in many ways, in other ways I see people living more stressful lives with busier schedules.
For example, we see those who have very demanding jobs where they work extremely long hours and sometimes even sacrifice their days off.
A parent that has to keep up with work, maintaining the home, and keeping up with their children after school activities.
An individual that has an elderly parent(s) that needs help and attention full-time.
Our daily responsibilities take up a lot of our time and energy. If we are not dedicating any time to self-care, we will run the risk of extreme burnout or even worst physical and mental illness.
Three pillars to self-care:
Check-in with yourself often – sometimes when we are overwhelmed with a busy schedule and responsibilities, we tend to override our feelings and emotions to simply get things done.
At the moment as make these responsibilities precedence over us we might not see the negative effects it has on us.
Negative emotions, moods, and feelings are great indicators that let us know there might be something wrong and needs our immediate attention.
Overriding our feelings and emotions overtime can numb our self-awareness.
If you have a feeling that something is not right or see negative changes in moods and behaviors the best thing to do is to check in with yourself. See what the problem is and what can help bring you into a more positive setting for yourself.
Enjoying healthy hobbies and creative activities – activities such as puzzles, crafting, art, or the like can help induce relaxation and improve cognitive functioning.
Find hobbies that you can enjoy daily to melt the stress away. There have been studies to show that crafting and hobbies can improve mental wellbeing by reducing anxiety and depression.
Having a support system – whether you have one person or a group of people, it is good to have a support system. Relying on others in times of need does not make
Journaling – the easy practice of writing down thoughts and feelings is an activity that can be applied to anyone.
Sometimes it is hard to understand our innermost feelings and emotions. If we were to write them all down and reread them afterward it might give us a clear picture of what is going on and
what can make us feel better.
The great thing about journaling is that it is safe and private. You can write anything you wish to express in your journal without judgment or criticism.
Sleep – our bodies need enough time to rest and recharge each and every day.
Having a good night’s rest not only helps your body stay healthy but it helps maintain good brain function that assists in regulating emotions and promotes good decision making.
Nutritional diet – the physical body needs healthy and nutritious foods to keep it running at optimum levels.
While it is okay to have fast foods or junk foods every once in a while, it is not a good idea to have these foods as the foundation of your main diet.
Illnesses and diseases may occur if the body does not receive proper nutrition over prolonged periods.
Exercise – an active body is a healthy body. Research has shown that engaging in both aerobic and resistance types of exercises regularly, can reduce health risk and promote a longer life span.
Hygiene/ Sanitation – good personal hygiene starts with regular practices of cleaning and washing the body and other body parts.
Having a good regular hygiene regimen can prevent the spread of infectious diseases to and from self.
Connecting with your faith community – surrounding yourself with a community that shares similar values and beliefs helps us feel less isolated and alone. Through building healthy connections in this environment, we can thrive and have strong bonds and connections.
Practice gratitude – while it is easy to compare our lifestyles with another. Studies find that the habit of comparison is more likely to cause unhappiness and depression.
Instead find things in your life that you can express gratitude for.
If this topic is hard for you can start by thinking of things or people in your life that have helped you or benefited your life.
Maybe a close friend or mentor was there for you during a really tough time in your life.
Even simple things such as being able to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves are something that is usually taken for granted but without we would not be able to live comfortably.
Having quiet time for meditation or prayer– in a busy world we hardly have a moment of silence to ourselves.
Having quiet time to connect with our source of divine inspiration helps ground and enlighten us.
Meditation or prayer can help rejuvenate the soul and bring peace of mind.
The duration of each session can depend on your time availability. Greater benefit results from being consistent and steadfast with this practice.
Volunteering your time or service – helping others in need can bring a sense of purpose and achievement. When you help others who are less fortunate you are also helping yourself.
Volunteering brings great awareness to our society as a whole and self.
We are always used to comparing ourselves with those who have more than us while forgetting that many others have significantly less than us as well.
Volunteering does not always have to be about monetary donations. You can help volunteer your time and energy to other community causes that would greatly benefit your community.
Time to love yourself
Your self-care practices should not make you feel more stressed out or tired.
Do things or find practices that are easy and that you enjoy doing. This is all about you and how you can enhance your health, happiness, and well-being.
The important thing to remember is that self-care should be the top priority in your day-to-day lifestyle.
We all have responsibilities and busy schedules, to keep up with these demands you need to keep your mind and body as healthy as possible.
As said previously, it doesn’t have to be all fancy or even expensive. The important thing is that you are dedicating time to care for and to nurture yourself.