Self care is a phrase you may have seen or heard before. As the name suggests, it is about looking after yourself. While the term is often used in relation to therapeutic strategies, for a wide range of illnesses and disorders ranging from depression to anxiety, OCD, addiction and recovery, it can apply to everyday life as well. What this term really means is taking the time and effort to ensure that you are healthy, calm and ready for whatever the universe throws your way.
In this mini-guide, we will delve a bit deeper into self care, to find out what benefits it offers and how we can implement strategies into everyday life.
Why Do We Need Self Care?
First things first, why do we need self care in the first place? For starters, developing strategies that are designed to help you keep stress at bay can go a long way in keeping normal stress from becoming over-stress. You may already have rituals in place that help you get over a bad day, prepare you for sleep (or for a new day) or simply make you feel good. These rituals are different for everyone, and could be anything from burning essential oils before bed to meditating first thing in the morning, taking an evening walk, listening to calming music, eating breakfast every morning or dancing around the lounge in your underwear.
There is still a lot of confusion however on what this term means. Some assume that it is the same as self pampering, when in reality, it can be as basic as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and avoiding harmful habits. Others see it as self indulgence, when it has less to do with indulging (or being selfish) and more to do with simply giving yourself the tools you need to be mentally, emotionally and physically healthy.
Why exactly do we need to invest in our health and well-being? Some of the biggest reasons to create your own personal ritual of caring for yourself include the following:
- Find balance. The world as we know it can be traumatic and overwhelming at times. News and social media is bombarded with bad news and between work, life, relationships and everything else, finding a sense of balance is not always easy. By making time for yourself, you will be able to find your own balance.
- Manage stress. When life gets busy, as it almost always does, it is far harder to make time for yourself. But this is when you need to take extra care of yourself to ensure that regular stress does not become burnout.
- Create routines. Believe it or not, routines are actually good for us – at least from a mindfulness perspective. If you have a routine for bedtime or mornings or lunch or any other part of your day, you will always have ‘you time’ to look forward to… no matter what else is going on in your life.
- Develop coping skills. Anxiety, stress, depression and even unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking are all fuelled by a lack of healthy coping skills. Knowing how to self soothe and relax will allow you to cope in a way that is sustainable and realistic.
- Encourage a positive outlook. Having your very own ‘me time’ routine can also help to develop a positive mindset. When you know how to make yourself relax, you are actively being kind to yourself. This in turn makes it easier to stay calm and happy, no matter what is going on.
Essential Self Care Activities
Now that we know a bit more about why we need self care in our lives, how do we go about creating a healthy routine that is just right for our own needs? It’s simple – you simply pick and choose whichever activities work for you and your lifestyle. You don’t need to spend any money to look after yourself. You don’t need any fancy equipment and you don’t need to burn incense or follow any chants. All you need to do is make time each day for yourself.
Some of the self care activities you could introduce into your routine include:
- Eating a proper breakfast
- Waking up earlier to avoid a rushed start
- Walking or jogging
- Starting a yoga routine
- Listening to soothing music
- Burning relaxing essential oils
- Making time to eat lunch away from your desk
- Creating a calming bedtime routine
- Going to therapy
- Making time to catch up with friends
- Knitting, sewing or crochet
- Going to bed earlier
- Going outside every day for 10 minutes
- Practising mindfulness
- Reading inspiring books or poetry
- Decluttering your home
- Unplugging from social media
- Cuddling a pet
- Drawing or adult colouring
These are just some ideas. What activities relax you the most? What activities make you feel inspired, happy or motivated? Find the things that make you feel good, and then aim to integrate them into your daily life. Don’t wait until life gets stressful – the best time to start a self care activity is NOW. Invest in yourself, give yourself the love and respect you deserve and you will soon begin to experience the benefits of self care. It really is that simple!