What is self-care?
Self-care is anything that helps you maintain your health and wellbeing, whether it falls under categories such as psychological, emotional, physical, spiritual, personal or professional wellbeing. Self-care can include doing activities such as exercise, finding a hobby, self reflection, addressing personal goals, and even putting boundaries in such as learning to say ‘NO’.
Why is self-care important?
Keeping your mind and body healthy can be a great distraction from everyday stressors. It can adjust our mindset from fight-or-flight, burnout or depression to being more aware of what is important for us. Specific and realistic goals can help us breakdown, prioritise and arm us with the best possible techniques for coping with issues that may seem overwhelming.
How to do self-care
Allowing yourself the time to reflect on what’s important and what motivates you helps you to relax and replenish your energy and is crucial for your own self-care. If you’ve set aside time for yourself, then nothing will get in the way to achieving this. Having a good starting point could be something as simple as listing, or journalling goals. This could include: Activities such as something creative, whether it’s art, poetry, changing your room around, connecting with friends, exercising, sport or music. All of these things can be beneficial. Learn to tune into your own needs.
As suggested above, self-care falls into several categories. As well as the pleasurable activities there are masterful activities. These are things that give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This could mean doing something different, such as going somewhere you’ve never been before or trying a new activity, or even exploring a new career path. Make sure that whatever new thing that you try and take up is not going to exhaust you or put more pressure on yourself.
Switching off and relaxing can be hard if you’ve had a stressful day and often we feel guilty about taking time out for ourselves, or feel as if we are being a little self-indulgent. Distraction can be useful in these times, which comes in many different forms and what works for you may be different for others. Meditation or grounding techniques might be useful at first before attempting to rush into something. Some online mindfulness and meditation applications such as ‘HeadSpace’ are great for improving anxiety, stress and concentration.
Being kind and compassionate to yourself is a given. Sometimes we are our own biggest critic and by being self compassionate and not judging ourselves as good or bad, by celebrating who we are, warts and all, means we are more likely to be self-motivated and to flourish and focus on our own self-care. You know the old metaphor “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. We often spend time putting other people’s needs before our own and as we know, we can’t give to others if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
So now that we’ve discussed self-care, the choice is yours. What are you going to do about it?
Accepting help, or support, is sometimes the hardest part when we are struggling or feeling vulnerable, but it is an essential part of self-care and connection. If you are stressed or worried, it can also be beneficial to talk to a friend, family member, GP or counsellor.