What is self-care?
The phrase “self-care” may prompt differing reactions among people. An immediate thought may equate self-care to “pampering.” Perhaps your first thought is, “who has time for that?” The idea of self-care may evoke a gut reaction of guilt.
In reality, self-care just refers to everything you do to protect, maintain, and improve your health and wellbeing.
Why is self-care important?
Though many people have been taught to put others first, this mentality is not sustainable over time if you are not also caring for yourself. Have you heard of the oxygen mask analogy? When riding in an airplane, if the oxygen mask drops, you must put on your own mask before helping others. If you pass out, you’ll cease to be able to help anyone else… in fact, you’ll be a hindrance to others. So, if you desire to be there for others, it is essential that you take care of yourself first.
Types of self-care
Self-care can include taking care of all aspects of your health: physical, mental, and emotional. Physical self-care includes taking care of your body and can include practices like yoga, eating healthily, going for a walk, exercising, or even an activity like gardening. Mental self-care can include encouraging a positive mindset through practices like tracking your thoughts and feelings or practicing gratitude. Emotional self-care practices help you to feel your emotions and keep them in check. Creative outlets can be great tools for emotional self-care. Examples of emotional self-care may include cooking, painting, completing a puzzle, or writing a letter. Another way to practice emotional self-care is by turning off your electronics and disconnecting for a bit.
Another important component of self-care is allowing yourself to slow down and recharge your body and mind. Activities that allow you to do this may include reading a book, watching a movie, taking a nap, journaling, soaking in the bathtub, or going to bed early.
Remember, self-care will look different for different people. What works for your significant other or your best friend may not be the best fit for you. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to this topic. Finding out what works for you is key to making self-care a part of your routine.
A final tip to practicing self-care is to give yourself permission to ask for help if you need it. Contact Southern Wake Counseling Center today by calling (919) 557-8222 to speak to one of our counselors.
Marilee VanVolkenburgh | Clinical Mental Health Counseling Intern