Most people know the importance of good health and staying in shape. Unfortunately, pressures at work, demands at home, and personal problems can push self-care to the background. Although self-care is a popular topic, it seems that many people still struggle to get enough.
When you hear the term “self-care” you may automatically think of candles, dimmed lights, attending a yoga class, or getting a massage. Caring for yourself emotionally, physically and mentally involves more than getting pampered for an hour or two a week. True self-care involves embracing habits and routines that positively impact on your wellbeing.
In this article, you will find out why self-care is so important to your happiness. You will also learn about 4 ways to practice self-care.
Self-care can mean many things to many people.
According to a medical journal, self-care is a “range of activities an individual performs to maintain personal wellbeing throughout life”. The risk associated with lack of self-care includes burnout, depression, distress, and physical exhaustion.
The key to developing a self-care strategy is your own self-awareness. This includes knowledge about your strengths and weaknesses and that of others as well.
When a person, even in stressful situations, practices self-care properly, the results can be the following:
The journal already mentioned said that self-care involves regulating 6 areas of your life. These are workload, reward, control, fairness, and values. Let’s look in more at how to care for yourself better in all of these areas.
One of the first steps to self-care is to simplify your schedule. Having too much to do pushes out friends and activities that you need to help care for your emotional and physical wellbeing. Sometimes, it is important to learn how to say “no”. Other times, you need to re-evaluate your life to see what is truly important.
Another way to take back control is to put limits on how much work you take home with you. Ideally, you should stop work when you leave the office. This may mean switching off your work mobile phone, not checking work-related emails on the weekend, or not working in the evenings.
Working long hours can lead to isolation. This can even cause a person to lose some of their social skills over time and prefer working rather than socializing.
To care for yourself, you need to keep a strong network of friends and associates. If you have a family, then spending quality time can help to foster strong bonds and healthy relationships. You may also need to get in touch with some trusted friends or spend some time out with them.
In some cases, your network may include a counsellor or therapist who can listen to you without judging.
Self-care should include personal rewards to give yourself a break. For example, this could involve a weakly treat for a job well done. Or, you could go for a spa session or massage. Try to incorporate into your daily and weekly routine something that helps you feel rewarded.
One word of caution: be careful that rewards are ones that benefit your health. So, try to limit the number of times you reward yourself with sugary snacks or alcoholic drinks.
Another useful way to increase the rewards you have in life is to make a gratitude list. Have a regular time every day or every week to you write down all the things you are thankful for. This is a great way to care for your emotional wellbeing.
Unfortunately, many things that happen in life are just not fair. Sometimes holding on to a sense of what is fair and what is not can undermine any efforts at self-care.
Of course, all of us need to have a sense of justice and act fairly to others. But holding on to perceived fairness can lead to bitterness and hurt. If you have been dealt with unfairly, then it is essential to work through this with professional help.
Your sense of fairness is also linked to your values in life. While what is fair and what is not depends on how others act, you are responsible for your own values.
So, it is important to identify your values and do your best to live in harmony with them. Every so often, take some time out to reflect on your current values. This can give you the motivation to continue practicing your self-care.