Self care has become somewhat of a buzzword lately. There are so many companies out there trying to push self care as a type of advertising practice, more concerned about selling their products than the mental health of their customers. However, the health and well-being of our customers is absolutely the most important thing to us.
Here at CHIJI, we believe that self care is a vital part of both your physical and mental health. To help, we’d like to discuss exactly why it's so important and how you can take care of yourself.
After all, if you don’t, who will?
What Exactly is Self Care?
Because there are so many different definitions of self care going around, we think it’s essential to start with the basics.
So what exactly is self care?
Essentially, self care is any activity that you do purposefully to take care of your mental, emotional, and/or physical health. While that sounds like it would be a simple concept, it can actually be quite difficult to do! Setting time aside for yourself, even when you know that you need it, is something that can make you feel selfish for taking care of yourself.
This is so far from the truth! Women, in particular, are particularly bad at putting themselves first.
Many of us are taught that our importance is in taking care of others, and putting ourselves on the back burner is the best way to do that. It’s important to remember that taking care of yourself is also what helps you to better learn how to take care of others. It’s like that old saying… always put your own oxygen mask on first.
You can’t take care of anyone else if you are unable or unwilling to take care of yourself.
Self care really is the key to living a happy, balanced life.
What Isn’t Self Care?
Because so many things get thrown around as being “self care,” it’s easy to get the wrong idea of what that may be.
Self care is not something that you force yourself to do. For instance, while massage may be quality self care for one person, it may not be comfortable for someone else. Don’t force yourself to do something you’re not interested in because you’ve been told it's self care. Real self care will always refuel you, not stress you out more.
How Does Self Care Help?
In addition to the obvious advantages of taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health, self care also helps in a variety of other ways.
Quality self care has been proven to help both reduce anxiety and improve mood. It also can help improve your self esteem, as well as your relationship with both yourself and those around you.
When you take care of yourself, you feel calmer, more centered, and more prepared to handle what life may throw at you.
Where Should I Start?
If this is your first time looking into self care, congratulations! You’re taking a very important step toward reminding yourself that you are just as important as all of the other people that you take care of. While it may feel a little strange and difficult at first, it gets easier the more you do it.
When starting off, though, start small.
Over time, as you learn more about what makes you feel relaxed, you’ll be able to develop a routine. Until then, try small acts of self care like taking a bath or spending some time on the couch with a soft plush blanket and a good movie.
Self care doesn’t have to be big and complicated. Starting out by just getting used to how it feels to put yourself first is often the best place to start.
Regardless of where you choose to start, though, it’s important to make sure to plan it. Self care doesn’t just happen, you need to schedule the time and make sure that you follow through with it. It can also help to tell the people around you that you plan on taking time out for self care. It’s one more way to make sure that you follow through with it.
There are plenty of websites out there that focus on helping with Self Care 101, if you need a little help and inspiration. We have some ideas for you, as well!
Ideas For Self Care
If you’re still unsure of where to start, we have a few basic ideas that you can try out. If you try it and it just doesn’t feel right, cross that off the list and try something else.
It can take a little bit of time to really settle on what works for you, especially if it's been a lot of time since you focused on yourself.
Ideas For Physical Self Care
- Go for a walk. How long the walk is doesn’t matter, it’s the simple act of getting out of the house that matters. Fresh air can really do wonders for your attitude, as well, and exercise is always great at making you feel physically better. Bring your dog if you have one!
- Dance. Just turning some music on and dancing around the house is exhausting in the most fun way possible. There’s a reason that the phrase “dance like nobody's watching” exists. It’s freeing and great for your cardiovascular health as well.
- Go swimming. Not only is swimming great for you, it’s also much easier on your joints. You can also do it anywhere - in a pool, in a lake, in the ocean - just being able to float and let go will help you feel better.
Ideas for Mental Self Care
- Read a book. The type of book you choose doesn’t matter as much as choosing one that you’re interested in. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, even a children’s book… as long as you’re taking time out for yourself it counts as self care.
- Take up a new hobby. Photography, knitting, kayaking… all of these things are great acts of self care because you’re expanding your understanding of yourself, engaging with who you are, and also making sure to take the time out to enjoy it.
- Try an adult coloring book. These are nearly everywhere anymore, and they are an excellent way to clear your mind while also staying mentally engaged. They make an almost endless amount of varieties of adult coloring books, so there is one out there for anything you may be into.
Ideas For Emotional Self Care
- Try Yoga. While yoga can easily fit into any of these categories, it perhaps fits best as a form of emotional self care (though it really does come to a close tie with being physical self care, too). Yoga can help you get out of your head and free yourself from all the what ifs that may be dragging you down into a negative headspace.
- Talk with a trusted friend. Having at least one friend that you know you can turn to when you’re struggling emotionally really is a port in the storm.
- Make a list of gratefulness. If you’re having a hard time and everything seems like it isn’t going the way you want, it can really help to sit down and make a list of all of the things that you’re truly grateful for. This is self care, as it reminds you that you have more things going right than you may think.
You don’t have to stick to just one of these, either. Take a full day and go for a hike with a friend, or take a yoga class before heading to a park to read a book.
That’s the best part about self care… it’s infinitely adaptable to what you are interested in.
Self Care You Can Do Daily
In addition to scheduling the time for self care, there are also some tips that you can use every day to help take care of your body and your mind.
- Get enough sleep every night
- Eat a healthy diet full of whole foods
- Try to cut out processed foods
- Exercise more
- Spend quality time with your loved ones
- Laugh daily
- Do one thing that makes you happy every day
- Practice mindfulness or meditation
Meaningful life change takes time. Try to set up a two week routine that you know you can stick to, and then readjust the plan after the two weeks are up. You’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel with just a few small changes.
Self care is the key to feeling centered, happy, and balanced. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else in your life either.
No matter what self care looks like to you, whether that is wrapping yourself up in a blanket and watching TV, lighting a protection energy candle and taking a relaxing bath, or going for a calming hike with your dog, make sure that you set aside time for yourself.
As much as you may have been trained to think that spending time just yourself is bad, self care is not a selfish act--not now, not ever.