If you spend any time on social media then you probably see the phrase self-care several times a day. It’s become a buzzword over the last couple of years and I’ve had some mixed feelings about it for a while.
Self-care is incredibly important in keeping both your physical health in check, as well as your mental health. Often times we get so over-booked and over-committed that we forget to care about ourselves.
How do we expect ourselves to care for others when we don’t even take the time to care of ourselves?!
I think self-care has recently gotten a twisted rep thanks to social media. I see a lot about massages, “treating yourself,” etc, but not a ton about your mental space. To me, self-care is more about taking care of your mind and body, as opposed to expensive treatments. While these are great, and there is nothing wrong with treating yourself I think it’s more about doing whats right for your body, mind, and soul.
In the following Ted Talk, Dr. Guy Winch, a licensed psychologist, author, and keynote speaker, stresses the importance of keeping your mind mentally healthy. He argues that it is just as important to keep care of your mental health, as it is to keep care of your physical.
Winch explains that if you feel flu-ish or feverish, one will go to the doctor. He then poses the question: “So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness?”
So many people struggle with common mental-health issues but refuse to address them or try to heal them because of believing they don’t have to. The thing is if you continue to push something to the side, you will just create a pile, and a pile turns into a mess.
That’s where self-care comes into play! When you see a problem with your mental health, or you simply need a break, you learn to take it. You listen to your body when it tells you it’s sick, and you need to be able to do the same with your mental health.
If your body needs rest, let it rest. If your mind needs to be refreshed, take time to be still. Or if you need to be by yourself, let yourself stay in on Friday night.
You might be asking, so what does self-care look like? The following are a few different methods of self-care that are guaranteed to slow your mind and increase your health relatively quickly.
Self-care is important to keep your mind, body, and health in order. But how can one practice self-care if they are out of touch with their body? Becoming mindful of your body is important when it comes to all forms of mental health, but is also extremely important for knowing when you NEED to take time to focus on self-care.
For me this looks like a few minutes of meditation every day, and making sure that I routinely “check-in” with myself. That might sound silly, but I find if I am not intentional about it I can become to busy to do so.
The following is one of my favorite meditation walk throughs.
2. Do What You Love
Take time to actually do something that you care about. Stop the errands, put down your work to-do list, and allow yourself to engage in something you love. For me, that’s creative writing. I’m lucky because I get to write as my job, but I only write fiction for fun.
Whenever I’m feeling stressed or my creative juices feel drained, I purposely block out time to do what I love: fictional writing.
3. Learn To Say ‘No’
Learning to say “no” is an entire lesson of its own. This is something that many people struggle with because of either dealing with FOMO or because they struggle with turning people down. Over the years I’ve learned that saying no has allowed me to become more present when I do say yes to things!
Practice saying “no.” I’m not suggesting that you be mean, but I am suggesting that you practice. Saying “no” is truly an art and one that could help decrease your crammed schedule.
4. Immerse Yourself In Nature
Immersing yourself in nature is soooo good for you! Nature is good for our health, as studies show that trees reduce stress. Researchers in Japan encourage people to “forrest bathe,” which is simply walking in the woods.
They point out that it lowers your stress levels significantly compared to taking a walk in a city. Pick yourself up, go outside, and enjoy a walk. You don’t have to walk fast, nor do you need to get a workout out of it; just enjoy yourself. This is a good time to practice mindfulness, to be aware of the present, and the things around you. It will give you time to just be.
I live in a city, but there are parks, and even just walking through them helps me relax.
5. Practice Breathing
This might sound silly but most people don’t know how to breathe in a way that will reduce stress. Breathing in and out slowly will actually bring immediate oxygen to your brain, which will, in turn, send information throughout your body that you are alive and working.
This little activity instantly will remind you to just be still and at peace with where you are at. Try inhaling deeply through your nose followed by a deep exhale through your mouth. This is good for mindfulness, but also anytime you are feeling stressed.
Linking one of my favorite breathing exercises here.
6. Take Days Off
This is something they don’t teach you in school: it’s okay to take days off from life. It’s more than okay for you to take a break from a busy schedule and just rest. If you are feeling stressed, or anxious, maybe your body just needs a break.
7. Spend Nights In
Going off the last point, it’s okay to not go out all the time! We receive so much pressure from society to always be doing – and this includes spending nights out with friends. If you are feeling tired, or like you have low energy – pour a bath, grab your favorite book, and stay in.
8. Treat Yourself
This one is my favorite. I might overdo this one but I think its crucial to living life stress-free. Treating yourself isn’t about spending large amounts of money on spa days or new clothes. Treating yourself is about giving yourself something that means a lot to you. For me, this means a relaxing night with a book, a smoothie, and some music playing. It’s simple, relaxing, and recharges me.
It might look like a tangible product for you, but for me it’s about the moments.
Self-care is crucial to all humans, no matter your age or gender. Next time you feel like you need a break – take it! Your body will thank you in the long run. What’s your version of “self-care?”
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, then check out “5 Key Things That Will Help You Survive The Bad Days.”