I used to neglect my self-care for long periods of time. Don’t get me wrong. I took care of the basics like eating, bathing and sleeping but not a whole lot more. Looking back, it never crossed my mind that self-care should be a priority in my life.
Taking care of others? Yes.
Taking care of myself? Not so much.
Fortunately, those days of self-neglect came to an end. Now, I consider self-care to be extremely important and key to my overall wellbeing.
Where do you fall on the self-care spectrum? Are you a neglecter, an overachiever or somewhere in between?
Now that we have gone over what self-care isn’t, let’s discuss what it really is.
Self-care can be simply defined as the practice of intentionally taking care of your own wellbeing. This is a simple concept, but something that we often overlook.
These days when the word “self-care” is a popular marketing term (selling everything from facial masks, blankets, candles, books, jewelry, etc.), it is so hard to know what self-care really is.
It’s not just a superficial, frivolous thing. It is sustainable and intentional and goes way beyond manicures, spa days and drinking good wine. Those things are wonderful, but they are very short-lived and don’t go deep into maintaining your total wellbeing, which is the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy.
For self-care to be effective it should improve or maintain an aspect of your health and lead to sense of being well taken care of.
How many of you think that it is someone else’s job to take care of you? Maybe it’s your partner’s job to make you feel loved. Your kid’s job to make you feel fulfilled. The employer’s job to make you feel important. Your friend’s job to make you feel special.
I used to believe all of those statements before I realized that those responsibilities actually belong to me. As the constant in my life, I needed to get serious about taking care of myself on a deep, personal level so that I can actually thrive like I describe in my “Word of the Year – Thrive!” post.
Below are the types of self-care that are most important to me at this time.
Taking care of yourself is the best way to ensure that your needs and wants are being met. Regular and effective self-care boosts your health and wellbeing in ways that external sources of care cannot. This is because you have intimate knowledge of what you need emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually.
Good self-care restores the mind, body and soul. It is also a great way to prevent or manage stress and its harmful effects on the mind and body. Certain self-care activities can improve your mood, prevent burnout, build resiliency and reduce anxiety. Taking care of yourself can also lead to having a body that is in its best possible condition.
I’d also say that taking care of yourself reminds you that you are important and worthy of the care and attention that you devote to your wellness.
So now that you have decided to take better care of yourself, where do you begin?
I’d say that you should start with the basics. Make sure that you are eating healthy, staying hydrated, exercising and getting enough sleep so that your body gets what it needs.
Then get creative and take time to learn about yourself and what else you need and/or want when it comes to your wellness priorities. This self-discovery and exploration phase may take a few moments or a few weeks, but it is important to determine where you are with taking care of yourself and where you would like to be. Do you need to connect with friends on a regular basis? Lose weight? Pamper yourself?
After you decide what areas you want to improve, determine the activities that make you feel cared for. Call your best friend on Saturdays. Start your weight loss journey. Make an appointment for a spa treatment. The list of self-care activities is endless.
Creating self-care routines will help build these activities into your lifestyle. Another way to help get into the self-care habit is finding a partner who is also on a similar journey so that you can support each other.
Just remember that you are the authority on you. Self-care should be flexible and responsive to your changing needs.
What are your favorite self-care activities? Please share them in the comments so that we can keep the conversation going.