A busy lifestyle has become the norm for those who are out there climbing up the corporate ladder, fulfilling their roles as a parent and spouse, working hard to stay healthy, trying to carve out some time for friends, keeping up with a house, making travel plans, and chasing their big dreams. Does this sound familiar? All of this go, go, go takes a major toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Sometimes, we forget that we should give importance to taking care of ourselves. This has led to the rise in “self-care.”
What is Self-Care?
When asked the question, “Do you take care of yourself?” most of us will answer “yes.” When asked, “In what ways do you take care of yourself?” all of a sudden it isn’t so easy to answer. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Self-care is anything that refuels you, rather than takes from you. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. When you love what you do for self-care, it is key to an improved mood and reduced anxiety.
Is Self-Care the Same for Everyone?
Remember, self-care has to be something that you enjoy and rejuvenates you. For some people who love to run, a long 5-mile morning run may be just the thing to get the day started right. If you don’t like running, it’s still important to get in about 30-60 minutes of exercise to keep up with your physical health, but it doesn’t count as self-care if you don’t enjoy it. You may enjoy reading a book about a subject you love instead. Amina Naru and Pamela Stokes Eggleston, co-founders of Retreat to Spirit, say it all starts with tuning in to assess your individual needs so you can design your own multi-layered approach. Over time, you will be able to find your own rhythm and routine.
With that being said, there are a few basics of self-care that do apply to everyone. Eating a healthy diet, getting eight hours of sleep a night, spending time with loved ones, seeing a medical professional on a regular basis, and exercising daily are all needed in order to maintain peak health.
A Few Great Self-Care Ideas to Help Get You Started
The good news is that a self-care ritual can recharge you! The not-so-good news is that we can’t tell you exactly what to do in order to make this happen. Through trying out a few activities, you will be able to identify the forms of self-care that work for you. Some common favorites include:
#1 Exercise. Exercise is as good for our emotional health as it is for our physical health. Do at least one physical activity every day, whether it’s taking a walk, going to spin class, spending 30-minutes doing yoga, jogging, or any other exercise you enjoy. In line with the “rules” of self-care, what’s important is that you choose a form of exercise that you like! If you do, it increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and a boost in energy. If you think you’re too busy with work to fit in exercise, go for a walk over your lunch break. If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time- and it is important!
#2 Sleep. Proper self-care means getting the sleep you need. Just like it’s important to work out, it is important to rest as well. Are you getting enough sleep at night? Your body, mind, and soul require eight hours of sleep every night. Making a serious effort to make that happen is essential. If you aren’t getting what you need, it may be that setting up a sleep oasis complete with a luxury mattress, adjustable bed base, supportive pillows, and premium linens is needed. If you can and like to, you can even fit a 20-minute nap into your afternoon!
#3 Read. Reading is good for more than just getting an A on a book report! Reading can boost intelligence, increase empathy, lower stress, and helps you ease your brain into falling asleep at night. Many people enjoy a good book, so if you’re one of them be sure to head to the library and find one that will take your mind off things for a little while each day.
#4 Massage. Sometimes, it can feel nearly impossible to get enough alone time to rejuvenate at home. Pamper yourself! A great way to relax and unwind is by getting a soothing body massage at a nearby spa. You will be able to relax your muscles and at the same time free yourself from the stress you’re feeling.
#5 Beauty Regimen. It’s tough to really give your all to your loved ones and important tasks in life when your inner monologue is telling you that you don’t feel great about yourself. Facemasks, lotions, toners, wax, and other products are all great ways to go about making yourself feel beautiful. A nice warm bath provides powerful relaxation, too, so throw some salt in the bath, put on a face mask, and lock the bathroom door for 30 minutes. When you emerge, you’ll feel brand new!
It’s important to note that self-care needs to be something you actively plan, rather than something that just happens. This is because on a busy day, it won’t happen- and that’s exactly the day that needs self-care the most!
One Last Important Thing About Self-Care...
As stated above, self-care is vital to your mood. This means it is also key to a good relationship with others. Your body needs rest and rejuvenation, not only for you but so you can be there for others. Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup?” This refers to the fact that you can’t give to others, like your children, spouse, coworkers, and important people in your life, if you are too tired, too sick, or too worn down. The consequences of not practicing self-care include low energy, feeling hopeless, strain or distancing in the relationship with your partner, reduced performance at work, and having less patience with those around you. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary in order to be the best person you can be!
It takes more than a massage to create lasting change! Experts recommend you set up a 15-day self-care routine and see how you feel before and after. Try journaling before you begin, during your routine, and then when you’ve completed it. Have your inner thoughts and feelings changed? You may be very surprised to see just how much better your mood, feelings, and body feel. Now keep your new routine going!