By this point, most of us have heard people talk about the importance of self-care. We hear it from our friends, online, and at work but everyone seems to have a bit of a different idea of what self-care is. We might see our friends posting about a #selfcaresmoothie or face mask. Our favourite celebs and influencers might be on a “self-care vacation” to a white sandy beach somewhere in the ocean. This can leave us wondering what self-care actually is and how to practice self-care in our everyday, non-celebrity, lives.
So, what does self-care mean? It means looking at our wellness from a holistic perspective- taking into consideration our physical, emotional, spiritual, and social selves. Self-care is about having a routine of activities and practices that reduce stress and add to our overall well-being. Your self-care routine should include strategies and activities which are unique to your personal needs, lifestyle, and interests.
Self-care is important for so many reasons but a few examples include improving your mental and physical health, managing stress, improving your relationships, and increasing productivity. When we do self-care, like exercising, our body releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin which can help boost our mood and prevent illness. Practicing self-care can also help improve your focus and concentration, increasing productivity. Finally, by taking care of ourselves we can show up and be present in our relationships with our loved ones.
Take a look at what you do to care for yourself right now. What is helpful about your current routine? What is unhelpful? Focus on reducing unhelpful activities and increasing positive ones in your life.
Spend time thinking about those activities you’ve always wanted to try but have never gotten around to. Does meditation sound like an interesting thing to you? Maybe there’s some spiritual exploring you’ve meant to do. Try it out and add what you like to your list of positive activities.
It's time to commit to yourself because let’s be real- you deserve it. Take time to reflect on what has been going well for you in terms of self-care and commit to maintaining it. Tell your family and friends about your new commitment to yourself, they can be a great resource for adding strategies to your plan and exchanging ideas.
How many times have you gone to the grocery store and forgotten that one thing you really needed? We’ve all been there! That’s why it can be helpful to come up with a way to track your self-care habits so that we know what we have done for ourselves and see our progress. Some common ways of tracking lists, journals, charts, and calendars.
Spend some time thinking about what might stand in your way of doing your self-care. Do you like to go for a walk after work but hate the rain? Are you trying to eat healthier but have a strong sweet tooth? Thinking ahead about what might make our goals difficult helps us solve the problems before they occur. Having a backup plan for poor weather might look like doing some gentle yoga instead. Write these down too, it will help you later!
Unfortunately, we know that life throws us a curve ball from time to time. That’s why it is important for us to have an “emergency” plan for our self-care. Take the time to create a list of things that make you feel better when you’re upset as well as the people you can rely on for support. It can also be helpful to think about positive messages to say to yourself when you are upset. Finally, what are the things you should avoid when you are upset?
If you're looking for more support with creating your self-care plan, Shift has some excellent therapists who can help!
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