Self-care is not selfish. As the old adage goes “you can’t give what you don’t have.” Taking care of yourself first gets you to a place to help others. And that’s just the beginning.
A lot of people think of self-care as “getting a massage” or “taking a hike in the forest,” but self-care can be a lot of things. And the more you do it, the more benefits you get. The main thing is to figure out what you need, rather than what you want. Like when you’re sick, you may need medication to recover. Self-care isn’t always easy.
Your needs could be physical, such as the need to exercise more. Or they could be mental, like the need to add more structure to your schedule. Or it could be emotional, like adding a short meditation to your schedule to maintain a calm.
Self-care includes all actions taken deliberately and intentionally to meet unfulfilled physical, mental, and emotional needs.
An important part of self-care is recognizing where our limits. When we frequently push ourselves past our limits, we can wreak havoc on our nervous and immune systems. Directly below is a list of common consequences of neglecting self-care. When we’re good to ourselves and we practice self-care regularly, we can reduce anxiety and improve our mood.
As I said, self-care is not just about you!
Wait! What?! Let me repeat: This is not just about you! Yeah, self-care is about the relationship you have with yourself, but it also shapes our relationships with the people around us.
Think about it. Good moods are infectious. When our needs are met, we can meet daily challenges with mental, emotional, and physical balance. We feel good. Then, we’re able to pass on our good moods to the people around us.
Now, how do we figure out what we need? And how do we translate these complex needs into simple daily actions?
First, take a step back, take a breath, and evaluate how you are doing. And decide if you need to work on filling a gap in your physical, mental, and/or emotional needs. Below are some tips, tricks, and techniques you can use to identify your needs, explore self-care options, and work out a plan to add them to your daily life.
This can be a very scary time for many people. How can we take care of ourselves and others when it feels like the world as we know it has come to an end? We only need to adapt and take care. Find information and resources to help.
It bears repeating — how you think of self-care directly impacts how easily you'll be able to make it a habit in your life. There are two main mental traps that people tend to fall into:
A: It's just ANOTHER thing to add to my schedule. There's no way I have time.
B: How can I be so selfish and lazy to take time to do nothing but relax.
Remember, self-care helps you recharge, and puts you in a mental, physical, and spiritual space to be able to take care of others. You're not being selfish. You're listening to your own body and mind to help you fulfill your needs.
You'll get the most benefit out of self-care if you make it part of your daily routines. But don't worry. You don't have to "revolutionize your life" or suddenly join a gym and work out every day. It's similar to diet fad. Too much at once can be overwhelming. Self-care isn't supposed to be a drag. Small sustainable habits help you keep up with your self-care over time.
The more complicated something is to do, the less likely it is for you to be able to keep up with it. This simple and easy.
This may seem like it shouldn't need to be said, but it does. Don't do things you don't like to do. In positive terms, stick to what you like. Try new things, but if it's not for you, that's okay. Don't waste more energy on it. No one is judging you and there are no wrong ways to do self-care.
Set yourself up to succeed. Make a plan, and then write it down. Studies show that goals are much more likely to be achieved if a plan is written down. Once you have a plan, schedule a date with yourself. Put it on your calendar and set a reminder on your phone. That way, you're telling yourself taking care of yourself is just as important as the work appointments and errands that take up your day but don't feed your soul. Just seeing your scheduled appointment for self-care on your calendar can be calming.