What is Self-Care?
Self-care is an essential part of caring for our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. It involves deliberately taking action to preserve or improve our own health, and can range from simple acts like not checking emails at night to larger decisions like going on vacation or booking a massage.
Self-care is different for everyone, and it may include activities like practicing yoga, eating a healthy diet, taking breaks, enjoying a bubble bath, using vacation or sick leave, implementing a meditation practice, and distancing ourselves from toxic people. By engaging in self-care activities, we are sending a message to ourselves and others that our needs are valid and should be prioritized. Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or being selfish; rather, it is a practice of taking action to promote healthy functioning and enhance our well-being.
Why is self-care important?
Self-care improves mental, emotional, and physical health
Self-care can help improve mental, emotional, and physical health by providing necessary downtime and relaxation, improving our diet and physical health through exercise, and providing a sense of purpose and clarity of thought.
Through physical activity, we can boost our serotonin levels, which helps us to have a better mood and more energy. Getting enough sleep also helps to reduce stress and improve concentration levels. Eating healthy, nutritious foods can give us the energy and nutrients we need to function at our best.
Additionally, consciously identifying what matters to us and expressing gratitude for the good in our lives helps to shift our focus towards the positive, improving our outlook and wellbeing. Finally, having the courage to say “no” to things that don’t bring us joy and fulfillment allows us to reduce our stress levels and prioritize what’s important to us, which can help us to enjoy better mental and emotional health.
Self-care helps reduce stress
Self-care helps reduce stress by providing a positive daily routine and engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Practicing self-care can help improve focus, build resilience, and strengthen relationships, all of which can help to reduce stress. It also reminds both you and others that your needs are valid and a priority, which can be incredibly beneficial for managing stress. Self-care can also help with recognizing emotional responses to stress and developing coping skills to manage them.
Self-care helps improve relationships
Self-care has a direct effect on the quality of our relationships with others. When we nurture our physical and mental health, we are able to bring positivity and joy to our relationships with friends, family, and partners. When we are content, we are more likely to be attentive and understanding with those around us. Self-care helps us to be patient, compassionate, and supportive towards those we care about. Self-care helps us to be the best version of ourselves, so we can bring the best out of our relationships too.
Self-care can improve productivity and performance at work
Self-care can improve productivity and performance at work by improving both mental and physical health. When employees take the time to take care of their health, it can reduce stress levels and help them to stay focused and energized throughout the day, leading to increased productivity and better performance. Self-care can also help employees to maintain a more positive outlook and attitude, which can lead to improved team morale and cooperation. When employees are more focused and energized, they can work more efficiently and more productively, leading to better performance.
Self-care can reduce anxiety and depression
Self-care can be an important factor in reducing anxiety and depression due to its ability to foster self-compassion, provide physical and emotional needs, and help prevent or reduce the effects of stress and worry. When individuals engage in activities that promote health, such as exercising, eating nutritious foods, and getting enough sleep, they are better equipped to cope with life’s stressors. Additionally, those who are able to adequately meet their own needs are often able to better care for others. Making self-care a priority may lead to increased resiliency, improved physical and mental health, and ultimately, reduced anxiety and depression.
Self-care can increase happiness and well-being
Self-care can increase happiness and well-being by improving physical and mental health. Regular exercise releases serotonin in your body and increases energy levels, making you feel happier and more energetic. Adequate sleep helps to restore and refresh the body, while consuming a healthy diet gives the body the nutrients it needs. Identifying the things that matter to you and changing your mindset to one of gratitude helps to focus on the positives in life and appreciate the small things. Finally, learning to say no to requests that cause stress or harm to your well-being ensures that your own needs are taken care of. All these aspects of self-care can lead to greater happiness and well-being by helping to establish balance and nurture the body, mind, and soul.
Self-care can improve quality of sleep
Self-care can improve the quality of sleep by creating healthy habits and routines. Developing a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding screens and other forms of stimulating media before bed may help to promote better sleep quality. Lastly, focusing on mindfulness practices, such as meditation and journaling, can help to reduce stress and create a calmer environment for sleep. Additionally, getting enough sleep can help to restore energy levels, as lack of sleep can lead to daytime fatigue and irritability.
Self-care can improve digestion and eating habits
Self-care is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and can help improve digestion and eating habits. Eating healthy, nutritious foods is a key factor for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Taking the time to cook well-balanced meals can be a form of self-care and provide the body with the energy and nutrition it needs. Additionally, regular exercise can help to improve digestion and increase metabolism. Exercise helps to break down food and release endorphins, which are hormones that make us feel good. It also helps to reduce stress, which can have a negative effect on digestion. Taking regular breaks throughout the day and allowing yourself to relax and refuel can also improve digestion and eating habits.
8 Ways to practice Self-Care
Establishing balance within ourselves could require that we focus self-care in numerous areas of our lives. Let’s take a look at the most frequent 8 ways we can practice a self-care plan.
1. Physical Self-Care
Good ways to practice physical self-care include:
- Eating a nutritious and balanced diet: Eating a variety of healthy foods can help you maintain a healthy weight and can provide essential vitamins and minerals to fuel your body.
- Getting regular exercise: Exercise helps promote general health and can help reduce the risk of certain diseases. Aim for at least 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
- Following everyday health practices: Get vaccinated, use barrier methods during sex, wear sunscreen, and avoid smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.
- Prioritizing sleep: Make sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night for maximum rest and recovery.
- Taking care of skin and dental hygiene: Make sure to wash up, put on fresh clothes, and take care of your skin and teeth.
2. Take Time for Yourself
Taking time for yourself can help you practice self-care by allowing you to pay attention to your physical health, get enough sleep, and eat healthy. It also helps you to identify the things that matter most in life, shift your mindset towards positivity and gratitude, and learn to say no when needed. Taking time for yourself can also help you develop and maintain close relationships, which can be key to your well-being. All of these activities can help you manage stress, stay happy and healthy, and lead a more fulfilling life.
Again, this can be 5 minutes or a full day away.
3. Take Care of Your Emotional Health
By taking care of your emotional health, you are better able to practice self-care. Healthy coping skills help you acknowledge and express your feelings, allowing you to be more aware of your emotions and how they affect your overall wellbeing. Healthy emotional self-care activities can provide an outlet to handle difficult emotions like anger, anxiety, and sadness and help to balance your mental and physical health. Taking the time to assess your emotional self-care strategies and incorporate activities into your life that help you feel recharged can make a huge difference in achieving a healthier and happier life.
4. Take Care of Your Mental Health
Taking care of your mental health can help you practice self care by improving your mood and energy levels, giving your body adequate time to rest and renew, and helping you to focus on the things that matter to you. When you take care of your mental health, you are better able to practice self-compassion and acceptance, which can help you maintain a healthier inner dialogue. Additionally, engaging in activities such as reading and puzzles can help keep your mind sharp and inspire you, thereby improving your overall well-being.
5. Spend Time With People Who Care
Spending time with people who care can help you practice self-care in a number of ways. When you spend time with people who care, you will receive emotional support and reassurance, which can help improve your mental and emotional wellbeing. Additionally, socialization is key to self-care, and being around people who care can provide a sense of belonging and connectedness, which can help improve your self-image and confidence. Furthermore, participating in meaningful activities with family and friends can bring purpose to your life and help you find fulfillment. Ultimately, spending time with people who care can help you practice self-care and improve your overall well-being.
6. Take Care of Your Spiritual Health
Taking care of your spiritual health can help you practice self-care by providing you with a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, and connection with the universe. With spiritual self-care, you can engage in activities such as meditation, attending a religious service, reading spiritual or religious texts, prayer, and seeking peace and joy. These activities help to nurture your spirit, leading to improved mental and physical wellbeing, increased resilience to stress, improved relationships with others, and a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.
7. Give Yourself Support
- Talk to your supervisor or mentor: Discuss your self-care plan with your supervisor or mentor and get their support and feedback. This will help you to make sure that your plan is realistic and achievable.
- Reach out to friends and family: Connect with close friends and family members who can provide you with emotional support and help you to implement your self-care plan.
- Practice resilience: It is important to build resilience and manage stress. Do activities that help you to stay focused and productive.
- Assess your feelings: It can be difficult to know how you are feeling and what to do when you do not feel your best. Take time to evaluate your feelings and determine what strategies will help you feel better.
- Understand self-care: Educate yourself on self-care and its importance. Read books and articles, watch videos and listen to podcasts that discuss self-care.
- Put your plan into action: Start implementing your self-care plan by engaging in activities that make you feel better.
- Look for and remove barriers: Barriers can prevent you from following your self-care plan. Recognize these barriers and find ways to remove them.
- Make dates with yourself: You might wake up 15 minutes earlier to sit with a cup of tea and practice deep breathing before the chaos of the day begins, or you might take a walk around the block on your lunch break.
- Be mindful of your actions: Be aware of any negative actions that can affect your self-care plan. Find positive ways to cope with stress and take care of yourself.
8. Practice Self-Care Activities That Allow You Relax
- Get enough sleep: Setting a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding stimulants late in the day and establishing a calming nighttime routine can allow you relax and improve the quality of your sleep.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can improve your physical and mental health, reduce stress, and even boost your mood.
- Eat well: Eating a balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables is essential for physical and mental wellbeing.
- Spend time with friends and family: Spending time with the people you care about can assist in reducing stress and anxiety and lift your mood.
- Get creative: Doing creative activities such as painting, drawing, or knitting can clear your mind and encourage relaxation.
- Take a break: Take regular breaks throughout the day to give your mind and body a chance to rest and recharge.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a great way to help yourself relax by focusing on the present moment, rather than worrying about the future.
- Listen to music: Listening to calming music may reduce stress and improve your mood.
- Spend time in nature: Spending time outdoors can help to reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing.
- Read a book: Reading can help to clear your mind and give you a chance to relax.
How to start a self-care routine?
Just like starting any other new habit, it can feel a bit overwhelming to create a self-care routine. Here are some steps we will break down to get you started:
- Choose an activity
- Create a space
- Find a time
- Make it a habit
- Connect on a social level with others that share your interests
- Track your progress
Choose an activity
One way to choose a self-care practice is to determine which activities bring you joy, replenish your energy, and restore your balance. This could include anything from journaling, to setting intentions for the day, to taking up a relaxing hobby.
Another way to choose a self-care practice is to explore your options and find activities that are fun or meaningful to you. This could include activities like mindful meditation, eating a balanced breakfast, or taking a break from your phone for a half hour each night. Additionally, there are many digital apps, articles, audio, and videos available online that can provide self-care techniques.
As you advance in your self-care practice, you may start to find self-care will include many different activities, not just one focused activity. Just as when you start exercising, you start off a few minutes a day and work your way up increasing the time spent.
Create a space
Dedicate a space for your self-care practice that will allow you to focus on your activity. This could be a corner of your living room, a desk, or even the outdoors. Make sure the space is comfortable and inviting.
Create an environment that supports your self-care. Place reminders in this space that motivate you to maintain focus and consistency. Add items such as candles, essential oils, and art that make this space feel soothing and supportive.
Find time in your schedule
Look at your daily and weekly routine and decide when you will make time for your self-care practice. A consistent time every day or week is ideal as it will help you build a habit and stick with it.
Think about when you are mentally and physically the strongest for the activity you choose. This will vary from person to person depending if you are a morning or evening person and depending on your professional schedule.
Make it a habit
After you have filled out your self-care plan, keep it in an easily accessible place, like on your fridge or desk. This way, it is visible to you and to those in your life, making it easy to refer to and follow.
Stick to your plan and practice the activities regularly. Having the support of your friends and family will encourage you stay motivated and accountable in following through with your self-care plan.
No matter which type of self-care practice you choose, it is important to make a commitment to your well-being. Self-care is not self-indulgent or selfish, but rather an important part of taking care of your physical and mental health. With time and dedication, you can create a successful self-care routine that allows you to stay healthy and balanced.
Connect on a social level with others who share your interests
Connecting with others who share your interests in self-care is an important part of developing a healthy lifestyle. There are a few steps you can take to make connections and build meaningful relationships:
Here are a few ways to connect socially:
- Join a local organization or club: Find a club or organization that focuses on topics related to self-care, such as yoga, meditation, or nutrition. You’ll be able to meet and talk to people who share your interests and build relationships.
- Attend a meetup: Look online for meetups in your local area that are related to self-care. This is a great way to connect with people who have similar interests and goals.
- Follow self-care influencers on social media: Many influencers on social media share tips and advice related to self-care. Find influencers you can relate to and follow them. Interact with them by commenting and liking their posts, and reach out if you have any questions.
- Participate in online forums: There are many online forums dedicated to self-care topics where you can connect with people from around the world. Join the conversation and share your thoughts and experiences.
- Join a support group: If you’re struggling with issues related to self-care, joining a support group can be a great way to connect with others and receive the support that you need.
Track your progress
Just as we may track different work out routines to see what gives us better results, so do we need to track self-care routines and finding the best activities for the best results. Track your progress over time to measure your self-care success. Keep track of how you feel before and after your practice and make adjustments as needed.
After a month, assess your progress and reassess how you are going. If any of the activities are not o benefit, consider replacing them with another one that better suits your needs.
Now let’s get started!
Just as with starting any new routine or habit, it can seem so overwhelming that we continue to procrastinate on starting. Just as with everything I talk about, just start slow, 5 minutes a day can make the biggest improvement in your day! Let’s just recap the main highlights to get you started today:
- Think of an activity you enjoy
- Find a space that works regularly
- Find a time you can commit to
- Write it down and your plan has started!