Self-care is all the rage these days in the wellness world, and has been for a few years. It is common to find posts sharing ways in which we can improve or incorporate self-care into our lives. And, there is a reason for that.
Self-care is probably one of the most effective ways of taking care of ourselves, our health, and our wellness, as well as reducing stress and burnout. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) has this quote about self-care on their website: “self-care isn’t complementary or alternative- it’s fundamental for good health” (CMBM, n.d.).
Benefits of Self-Care
Self-care is “providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness” (Doran, n.d.).
It is considered to be such an integral part of wellbeing that it is included as part of the code of ethics of the American Psychological Association (Doran, n.d.).
Self-care helps reduce and prevent stress, including helping us deal with the emotional aftermath from the challenges, problems, or obstacles we face on a daily basis. Self-care prevents burnout, which happens when we have stressed ourselves to the limit and are now facing exhaustion, depression, fatigue, and defeat (Barnett, n.d.).
Self-care also enables us to be more productive. It helps us put forth the better version of ourselves, that is calmer, more balanced, and more centered, making us feel and act competently and with more focus.
The reason for self-care is simple. We have to take care of ourselves in order to be healthy and strong to take care of others. My friend Faith Smith recently said that self-care is about filling up our cup so that we may give to others. We cannot run on empty, and we need to fill ourselves up to have enough to give away. That also means we need to make sure we are constantly refueling.
Ideas for Self-Care
Here are some ideas on how to implement self-care practices:
- Set aside time just for yourself with no distractions. Put away your phone and other gadgets. This is especially important if your devices are tied to what you do for a living. Do something you really enjoy: dance, walk outdoors, sing, read a book, write in a journal, paint, draw, cook, take a bath, sew, or whatever your heart desires
- Spend time making real connections with friends, family, children, partners, pets or whoever is special and important in your life. Once again, do not allow for distractions. Put away your phone, shut down your computer, and turn off the TV. Instead, spend time speaking with that person and ask them how they are. What is going on in their lives? What is new and good? What do they feel proud of? What are they struggling with? How can you help? Listen with intention.
- Do something for yourself that makes you feel better, and that brings benefit to your body, mind, and spirit. Get a massage, an acupuncture session, or a facial; take a class or a personal training; try something you have never tried before like bubble football, dance yoga, or foraging for mushrooms; sit in a steam or sauna; meditate; or simply take a nap
- Go out in nature; look up at the sky; soak in the sun (or rain); smell the roses
- Take a deep breath… or several
- Eat something that is good for you
There are many other options for self-care. Speaking to a therapist can also be a great choice. The key is to find something that you enjoy doing, helps you feel better, helps you relax, and fills up your energy tank.
Self-Care Is Not An Excuse for Being Self-Centered
I follow Mastin Kipp regularly. He is a Functional Life Coach™ and has been regarded as a modern spiritual thinker. He recently sent an email about self-care, and his thoughts resonated with me. I leave you with his wise words:
Barnett, J. E. (n.d.). Psychological wellness and self-care as an ethical imperative. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/careers/early-career/psychological-wellness.pdf
Center for Mind-Body Medicine. (n.d.). Self-care tips from CMBM. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. Retrieved on June 20, 2017 from https://cmbm.org/self-care/
Doran, J. (n.d.). The unspoken truth about self-care. Chair’s Corner. Retrieved on June 20, 2017 from http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2014/04/corner.aspx