I have been contacted a number of times recently by both men and women, young and old, with the same query. What is self-care? Self-care is something I often discuss each week and with good reason. It is perhaps the most important notion that I would like for all of you to take from these articles, for it has the power to completely change your attitude to life and dramatically improve your health, be it physically, mentally or emotionally.
What is self-care?
To put it plainly, self-care is self-love. It is taking the time to prioritise yourself and the relationship that you have with yourself, if only for a few minutes each day. It is doing something that makes you feel restored, happy, or, quite literally, cared for.
Self-care is comprised of activities or actions that rejuvenate your body, mind or soul. Just as everybody is unique, our ideas of self-care are unique to us as individuals. Here are a few examples: –
- Practising yoga, meditation or writing personal thoughts or goals for the future in a journal
- Adopting a nutritious diet to optimise your health
- Spending time with loved ones
- Spending time alone
- Sleeping longer or taking a nap if you feel tired
- Taking a bubble bath
- Treating yourself to a massage
- Taking a trip to the beach
- Taking thirty minutes to have a break, to put your feet up and relax
- Playing sport within a team
- Taking a walk by yourself
- Making time to watch a movie or to read a book
- Planning a holiday
- Saying no to an event that you do not want to attend or no to a request or favour that you do not want to fulfil.
These are examples of just a few actions of self-care that spring to mind. I am sure that each of you will have different ideas as to what constitutes as self-care and as to what would make you feel happy or restored if only for a brief moment each day. The point being, self-care is about choosing you, because you are worth it.
Why is it important?
So often we are told that we must extend kindness to others. However, hardly ever are we told to extend the same kindness to ourselves. There is a viewpoint that these actions of self-love are selfish, that we must, at all costs, prioritise others before ourselves. However, I will say it again! Self- care is essential for our health. It is absolutely not selfish, rather, it is vital for our well-being. This is especially important at times when we feel pressured in life, or stressed, or anxious or indeed depressed. When life feels tough, actions of self-care are imperative to our well-being.
We must take the time to ensure that we are looking after ourselves and not becoming depleted in our obligations to others. Sometimes, this means saying no to a favour, or to an event or a request of a loved one or a colleague. Remember, if you yourself are worn out, how will you have the energy to continue to give to others? Sometimes, you have to choose you.
Why do we sometimes find it difficult?
We often neglect ourselves because subconsciously, we feel like we do not deserve to be loved. There is also an unspoken sense of guilt that comes with saying no to requests or of choosing yourself before other people. We learn this from a young age.
If this sentiment feels particularly strong for you, therapy or counselling sessions may be beneficial in order for you to explore why you do not feel worthy of love or care. This sense of feeling unworthy can often be a trigger to poor relationships, many mental health conditions or difficult life experiences.
Whoever you are, wherever you are from and whatever it is that you do, acts of self-care remind you that you are deserving of your own love, time and energy.
By all means, take good care of others. But do not forget to take great care of yourself.