So lets define self care: “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, especially during periods of stress”.
Its important to remember that self care isn’t a one time deal. It works best if we take care of ourselves on a daily basis. While I was thinking about presenting this I remembered a line that read: “if dreams are the way our unconscious communicates with our consciousness, then routines are the way the our consciousness communicates with our unconscious”. Basically this is a complicated way of saying, if you want your unconscious to feel safe, understood and taken care of, you have to set daily routines that prove you care for it.
So self care isn’t something that we should do only when we are in crisis. The truth is, we can take better care of ourselves during hard times if we have already practiced those skills.
Many have a misconception of what self care actually entails. It isn’t always about bubble baths and getting your nails done. While these are great ways of pampering yourself, they do not cover what care could mean to different people, at different times.
Lets imagine that we can divide self care into mental/emotional versus physical layers. (p.s. This division is artificial as each one heavily affects the other).
- Our mind needs rest and sometimes the best care could be to UNPLUG for a bit. Some people are rushing through their days, attending to too many projects at once and feel good about themselves by constantly accomplishing something. While I admire their energy, undoubtedly many of them will eventually burn out. So scheduling time to sit in a quiet place, be alone, or meditate is crucial. Sometimes doing NOTHING is the best thing for us.
- SLOW DOWN and pay attention to things you do on autopilot. Its important for our body and nervous system to be connected and present. By slowing down, you ground yourself.
- On the emotional side: CHANGE THE WAY YOU TALK TO YOURSELF. Be nice. You don’t have to compliment yourself if it doesn’t feel natural or comfortable to you. But you can certainly become more self-aware of self-criticism and change your tone. We lead happier lives when we don’t beat ourselves up.
- SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. This could mean saying “NO” to activities or behaviors that are not healthy for you and/or staying away from negative people. This also means being GENUINE with who you are and what you need.
- ASK FOR HELP. Healthy individuals ask for help and support when they need it. Practice asking for help and dividing work appropriately.
- CHECK IN WITH YOUR EMOTIONS. Journaling is a great way to become aware of your inner experiences and allows for processing on a daily basis.
- EAT WELL. Make time during your day to sit down and eat. No rushing through lunch and working as you are eating. Actually setting time to sit down and eat.
- EXERCISING: walk around your block CAN count as caring for the self.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP (I cannot stress this enough. Put your phones away, leave the computer outside of your bed, and give your body what it really needs).
- Engage in practices that are meaningful to you such as prayer, walking, meditating, reading, and even watching TV.
Taking care of yourself will pay in the long run. It allows for you to be more present and connected both to yourself as well as others and saves you from possible burn out.