A term that we hear quite often, especially in mental health and special needs circles is ‘self-care’ but what does it really mean and why is it so important? Self-care is the deliberate act of taking care of one’s personal physical, emotional and mental health. In short, it is taking care of ourselves! Being good to ourselves helps us recharge so that we can face our challenges without them getting the best of us. Burn out is less likely to happen if we are practicing self-care diligently.
Self-care does not mean we are being selfish. Many people fear the term self-care because they think it means that they should be self-centered and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Self-care means that we love ourselves and those around us enough to take care of ourselves so that we can be there for others in the best possible way.
Self-care can mean different things to different people. Most think that it must involve massages and manicures, but it really doesn’t have to be that time consuming or expensive. There are four basic things we can do right now to start taking care of ourselves:
- Get enough sleep! If we aren’t sleeping well, our body is not getting the rest it needs to recharge itself. Lack of sleep can also lead to mental processing issues and a general feeling of sluggishness. Personally, I’m usually unable to get a full night’s sleep because Ry doesn’t sleep, but I will take naps when I need to.
- Eat right! A balanced diet is best for physical health. Fast food does not constitute a balanced diet no matter how badly I’d like for it to, so I try to cook a lot of veggies for dinner and make sure I eat breakfast.
- Exercise! Get our bodies moving in any way we can – dancing to the radio, yoga, walking or traditional exercising in a gym. Ry makes us dance at some point most days, but I am trying to work yoga in as a morning ritual after he leaves for school.
- Do something fun! Whatever we can do that brings us joy – reading, hanging out with friends, pampering ourselves, etc. Crafting used to be my go-to, but since Paix has moved back in and I had to relinquish my craft room I have taken to playing hidden object games on my kindle or reading.
That’s it! No, expensive trips to the massage parlor or nail salon required. Of course, those things will work. Here’s a list of other things to do to practice self-care:
- Create a list of things to be thankful for
- Practice deep breathing techniques
- Pamper yourself with a new beauty regimen
- Laugh as much as you can
- Use essential oils
- Indulge by getting a fancy coffee at a coffee shop
- Make something – get crafty
- Binge watch a tv show
- Listen to music with your eyes closed
- Take a hot bubble bath
- Maintain a journal
- Go out to lunch with a friend
- Stay away from people who bring you down
- Plan a getaway
- Do nothing – whatever that means to you
- Declutter your home or workplace
- Volunteer with an organization
- Let yourself cry when you need to
- Take a class – exercise, educational, whatever
- Join a support group
- Go cloud watching
- Be goofy
- Put down all the techie devices for an hour
- Sit in the sun for 15 minutes
- Help someone else
- Play with a pet
- Buy or pick a bouquet of fresh flowers
- Watch funny YouTube videos
- Splurge and buy yourself something you’ve been wanting
- Watch the sunrise or sunset
- Order take-out instead of cooking
Self-care doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. It’s anything we do to make ourselves feel good. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to slow down, breathe, and take care of ourselves first for a while. It’s what’s best for our health – mentally and physically.