The concept of self-care has become fairly mainstream in recent years as mental health awareness has increased. You may have heard about self-care from a magazine, a blog, or even from a training at work.
However, in the mental health profession, self-care has always been a vitally important topic for both professionals and clients.
What is your definition of self-care?
Does it look like binging a new season on Netflix? Maybe taking a nap? Treating yourself to something special on the weekend?
Those could potentially all be seen as self-care activities.
What does self-care actually mean?
Self-care is anything that increases mental and physical wellness, personal engagement, self-appreciation, and helps regulate stress.
There is no one self-care activity that suits everyone. Instead, there is a wide variety of techniques that can be tailored to each person’s needs. This means that while meditation might work really well for one of your friends, it might not work well for you and your needs.
Self-care is a continuous process of taking inventory of your needs and setting time aside to participate in activities that increase overall wellness and reduce stress.
It is very easy, in our quick moving society, to not put ourselves first or even be aware of our own needs. We might prioritize someone else’s happiness, easily bypassing our needs to take care of others. While this might seem like a very kind thing to do, not meeting our own needs regularly can have negative effects. We can quickly experience burnout, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and even irritability.
Incorporating self-care into an already busy schedule
There is no question that your schedule is already full. So, you might be thinking, “how am I supposed to add more things to my schedule?”
Self-care activities do not have to take up a large amount of time. While taking an afternoon off to relax or taking a yoga class might sound nice, it isn’t practical for everyone all the time.
These activities can be quick check-ins with yourself to take inventory of how you’re doing and what you need. Some options are listed below.
Meditation. There are so many apps that offer guided meditations.
Read. Grab a book at bedtime instead of picking up your phone.
Move your body. This can look like taking a walk, stretching, doing yoga, dancing in the kitchen etc.
Learn a new skill.
Try a new hobby.
Spend time with a friend.
Do a puzzle.
Take a nap.
Create something. This can be with paint, clay, wood, paper, etc.
The options for self-care activities are endless. Sometimes the best way to practice self-care is to set limits and say no when you feel you are doing more than you are used to.
Self-care is the continual process of proactively tending to your needs to increase and maintain your overall wellness. It can be difficult to put your needs first. It might feel easier to stay busy and not have to sit with those difficult feelings and emotions.
But the most important part to remember about self-care is that it’s a journey. There is no one right way to do “self-care.” You will get better the more you practice.
You might feel that the concept of self-care is just trendy. But investing in yourself and your wellness is important, and self-care is just one easy way to do so.