We hear the word “self-care” so frequently but what really is self-care? What does it mean to engage in self-care and why do we sometimes feel selfish in doing so? There’s often this perception that doing something for yourself or engaging in activities that bring you pleasure can be seen as self-indulgent and selfish, but that’s far from the truth.
If we think of the simple definitions of selfish versus self-care, selfishness comes with a lack of consideration for others when it comes to our own pleasure. Self-care is the indulgence in activities that holistically feeds your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health & well-being. Self-care is engaging in activities that make you feel better, your most productive self so that you can engage in and maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy interpersonal relationships. Self-care is also doing things that allow you to protect your time, energy, mental and physical peace.
For example, self-care could look like getting enough sleep to be able to have a more productive morning or saying “no” to extra work after work hours to protect your time and allow space for other diverse activities. On the flip side, self-care can also look like using extra time in doing things that recharge/energize you. Using time to connect with your body via yoga or going to the gym while also finding space to pick up that book you’ve been wanting to read. Not just this, but reflections are a form of self-care too. Being able to reflect on things that don’t energize you positively can be helpful in guiding you to find a balance amongst the activities you engage in.
Given the fact that the world has been through this horrid pandemic, we’ve all been surrounded by negativity, trauma, death, and illness, and somehow that has become everything that continues revolving around us. Granted why so many people now struggle, more than ever, with mental and physical well-being. Self-care in the present can look like surrounding ourselves with positivity, listening to affirming podcasts, reading books on self-compassion, and engaging in using laughter as a form of taking a break from the toxicity. Here are some other ideas on ways to engage in self-care:
Self-care looks different to everyone, and can come in various forms, however one thing that’s common to everyone is getting high-quality and enough hours of sleep! While we all know how important sleep is to our routines, most people are unable to engage in the proper sleep hygiene that works for them. Improving your sleep care could be a crucial and health changing step in improving your overall wellness. So where should you start? Here are some general tips on improving your sleep care routine:
- Unwind from your day & create a relaxing environment.
- Stick to your sleep schedule.
- Stay consistent & set your goals to be realistic.
- Limit naps & caffeine.
- Get in some exercise & eat a balanced diet.
There’s this misconception that meditation must look a certain way, sitting in a still position with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing for a length of time. For some people, this may work, but for others, this may sound intimidating or boring. Additionally, in such a busy and moving lifestyle that we are all engrossed in, it may be hard to take time and sit still for hours. The reality is that even 3-5 minutes of turning inwards and reflecting on our state of mind can change our well-being. Meditation is not just focused breathing, or yoga, but can also look like connecting with one’s senses, appreciating smell and colors on a nature walk, spending time with your pet, gardening, listening to music or playing an instrument, generating movement via muscle relaxation, stretching or exercise. Pick one that resonates with you and use that as a way to enhance self-awareness and see yourself for who you really are!
Several research has linked regular exercise and physical activity to overall mental and physical well-being. While we all may already know this, our schedules are often so full that incorporating time for exercise can be daunting and seem tactful. But what are the benefits of exercise? One of them is improved ability to handle stress. Our routines are so full of activities and events, that sometimes it becomes overwhelming to handle it all. When we exercise, our bodies release stress hormones that help build resilience to stress and improve mood. Another benefit is a boost in confidence. A part of self-confidence is linked to a sense of accomplishment, and when we incorporate new goals and new changes in our routine, it comes with a sense of achievement as well! Exercise also has proven benefits with improved sleep and reduced risk of health concerns including dementia. Exercise does not have to look like signing up for a gym membership and cardio 5 days/week. Start small, set goals that are realistic to your physical abilities and move up from there. A 30-minute brisk walk, Zumba classes and/or yoga are great alternatives to incorporating exercise in your routine.
You must have often heard people say, “watch what you eat” or “you are what you eat”. In high stress situations, we often resort to high sugar, high carb options and/or binge eating all the “wrong” foods. Food brings us comfort, and in high stress, our mind and body seek comfort via eating. A big misconception when we think of a change in nutrition is that it includes dieting. The idea is not to restrict ourselves but to nourish using healthier and fulfilling alternatives to an unhealthy diet. Set your goal to find a balance and take time to understand how the foods you eat add to your balanced diet. Eating right will not only make you feel energized and fueled but also help in managing stress and maintaining overall physical health. Some tips on finding that balance include getting colorful with your foods – greens, grains and fruits & berries are a great way to add color; plate creatively – add proteins, fats, carbs in a balanced way; or treat yourself – use 6 days to eat healthy and stay nutritious but also take the 1 day to reward yourself for the progress you’ve made with your eating goals. You pick!
While these are all just basic ideas to get you started – get creative with your self-care! Incorporate ideas that rejuvenate your sense of self and feed your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual self positively.
I would be happy to sit down and help you find ideas in ways that you can better engage in positive self-care, create a healthy self-care routine, and work on ways to enhance your overall sense of self and confidence.
To explore more about self-care, in addition to any other issues you would like to explore, please book a complementary 15-minute consultation to see how I can support your goals.