Are you confused with what the actual definition of self-care? Many are even though the term sounds incredibly simple. The truth of the matter is, self-care encompasses an uncomplicated yet multi-faceted meaning. In the simplest of terms, it is care provided by you, for you.
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For many of us, the first thing that comes to mind is sitting in a massage chair at the salon while receiving a much-needed pedicure. But let’s take a moment and think outside the box here and discover what all “self-care” really entails.
Benefits of Self-Care
Let’s talk about how balancing your output and input would affect your quality of life. If your output is greater than your input, you are probably not functioning at your fullest capacity. This is similar to putting only enough gas in the car to get you to your next destination.
When you practice self-care, your tank remains full for you to be able to fulfill the demands each day. When your balance is achieved, you achieve the following benefits.
Your brain needs pampering to function properly. It requires nourishment, rest and stimulation to keep them firing on all cylinders helping you to think clearly and being able to focus.
Healthier Immune System
When you are taking care of your body, your immune systems get a good boost of goodness to keep fighting. Your immune system requires proper nutrients much like your brain. But it also requires rest and rejuvenation to fight off the nasty cold and flu season.
Increased Physical Endurance
Have you ever heard the saying “A body in motion stays in motion”? It’s pretty simple really. Proper maintenance is key for anything to go further and last longer.
When you feel good, you feel good. Creating time specifically devoted to self-care provides the perfect avenue to steer clear of negative self-talk and beating ourselves up. Instead, you are moving in the direction of better health, which boosts confidence and self-esteem.
More of You to Give
Being well-versed in self-care might seem a bit selfish, but it’s the complete opposite. Self-care replenishes your resources to be able to give. You can’t give away what you don’t have, right? I have learned this early on that I need to be able to take care of myself before I can take care of others.
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Types of Self-Care
The incredible impact a self-care regimen can make on your life should be clear. The next question in discovering all about self-care is the types and how each can benefit your whole being. Remember, this is all about you taking care of yourself.
So what types of self-care are there? Let’s take a look:
Mental health is probably the least talked about yet one of the most crucial aspects of daily living. Depression and anxiety run rampant in our society and we are barely willing to acknowledge it, let alone take steps to overcome and even prevent it.
Activities for psychological self-care involve two things: 1) at least one of the five senses (touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste), and 2) being in the moment.
Try things like closing your eyes and truly enjoying the scent of a candle, listening to some soothing music, or getting outside for some sunlight.
A massage with essential oils is another great way to be in the moment and truly relax. The main objective here is to be still, not overstimulated and be in the moment.
Some of us have the tendency to shove unpleasant emotions down so far we don’t have to deal with them. This is especially true for us busy moms as we want to remain as the strong person everyone goes to. Self-care involves dealing with those emotions, allowing them time and space to process, and then moving forward.
For emotional self-care, journaling, talking to a counselor or trusted friend, and singing songs representative of your current emotion are great ideas.
You don’t have to be religious to get in touch with your spiritual side. For self-care in this category, you could try positive affirmations, reading self-help books, visit a religious or other services, or spending some time in nature.
Our bodies are the only vessel we get in this lifetime. And yes, exercise important, but think about the bigger picture. Getting physical is an excellent way to burn off steam along with those extra calories.
Cross-fit might be great for some, while others might be a little more comfortable taking the dog for a walk. It can be in a gym or outside, in a group or alone. Whatever works best for you and your fitness level.
People thrive on social interaction. The introvert in me might disagree at times, but there is an innate level of satisfaction in creating long-lasting and substantial bonds with other people.
There are many ways to engage in social self-care: Support groups, brunch with friends, attending a social group meeting like a book club, or volunteering your time at a school or non-profit organization.
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If you are an introvert like me and being around people isn’t your thing or it gives more angst than relaxation, try reaching out to someone via email or engaging in online forums.
Prioritize Yourself and Take Action
We’ve gone over the five main areas of benefits and five main types of self-care, but how do you really get in there and decide what’s right for you? Understanding the why of self-care is only the beginning. Hopefully, this knowledge will be enough to inspire you to actively incorporate some self-care into your life.
First and foremost, you need to make self-care a priority and not an “if I have time” activity. Take some time to evaluate and remember, this is about you!
This is for your own personal enrichment and well-being. You have to invest in yourself to reap the rewards. And you are definitely worth the investment!
Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself:
- What makes me happy?
- What do I enjoy doing?
- When do I feel my best?
Get to know yourself. Discovering yourself is part of the whole process. If you’ve always wanted to try ballroom dancing classes but have never given it a chance, go for it. You’ll discover psychological, spiritual, physical and social self-care activities by learning a new dance.
Based on your answers you’ll find the right direction for your self-care routine.
Remember that no two people are the same and each person’s self-care rituals are going to be a little different than the next. And that is perfectly okay.
Simple Self-Care Ideas
In practicing self-care, you get to enjoy a little pampering, take better care of yourself (inside and out) and reap the many benefits like those listed above. There really isn’t a downside to self-care.
Here are a few simple self-care ideas to help you get started:
- A walk, jog or run being mindful of being outdoors and all its beauty
- A 5- or 10-minute morning meditation to get the day started
- Listen to your favorite playlist, podcast or audiobook
- Get out with friends for drinks
- Get out with friends for a painting class
- Take a pottery class.
- Eat something green every day
- Write in a journal
- Read an inspirational book
- Join a fitness class
- Get a massage
- Get a manicure and/or pedicure
- Zone out in a bubble bath with candles and soft music
Self-care is limitless and it’s as individual as you. If you enjoy watching a romantic comedy and helps you stop overthinking and relaxes you, go for it. If you’d rather go for a walk/ run to help you get centered, by all means, do that. Whatever your heart desires. This is about feeding your soul so you can be the best version of yourself.
Schedule Your Self Care Time
Now, here is the tricky part, and many of us are quick to come up with the “no time” excuse when attempting to implement a self-care plan. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t make time for yourself, eventually your time for others will diminish.
There will simply be less and less of yourself to offer if you aren’t refilling your self-care tank on a regular basis. Many self-care techniques take only a few minutes, while others might involve more time. It’s entirely up to you and your schedule, but don’t make the crucial mistake of denying yourself altogether.
Meditation can take as few as 5 or 10 minutes when you get the hang of it. A 10-minute walk? Surely there are TEN minutes in a day you can spare. Let’s put it into perspective on how easily we cheat ourselves out of self-care with lame excuses.
How often do you pick up your phone to check social media or email? If you don’t know how much time you spend on your phone with mindless activities, there are apps to track it. You might be shocked at the results. I know I am guilty of this.
How much time do you spend in front of the TV? On a break? Driving? You can incorporate self-care techniques in ALL of these time slots you’ve made available for other activities.
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Follow Up and Reassess
After you’ve started your self-care plan, go 7 days straight and then re-evaluate. Many recommend a month, but that’s a lot of days to carry on with something that might not be working, or forgotten altogether.
What are you looking for on your follow up? Pay special attention to how you feel after you engage in something for self-care. Does the scheduling need to be adjusted? Or does the activity itself need to be switched out for something else?
If you aren’t really getting the vibe you expected from weekly pedicures, switch it out for a 30-minute audiobook session at your favorite park. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try it.
The key here is to keep an open mind and be aware of whether your self-care plan is providing the benefits you expected. It’s okay to switch things up. If you aren’t a creature of habit and want the exact same routine, you don’t have to do that. Do what works for you and your lifestyle!
Self-care isn’t meant to be difficult. It’s supposed to be satisfying and a means to refuel and recharge. The important thing is that it benefits you, that you are taking care of yourself inside and out!
Self-care isn’t about anyone else; it’s about you and restoring your mind, body, and spirit. It is about carving out time to rejuvenate your life and live a more purposeful and meaningful existence. It’s about you! So take care of yourself!
What are you planning to do to take care of yourself?
Let me know in the comments below.