Don’t Forget About Self-Care!
September is Self-Care Awareness Month, which means it’s a great time to discuss taking good care of yourself and explore your own self-care habits. Use this month to learn about what self-care really is and how it can have a huge impact on your life and the lives of those around you. You should aim to understand why self-care is so important and what it looks like on a daily basis. You can also read about some different self-care techniques and explore new ways to show yourself some love this month and every month going forward.
Why Is Self-Care Important?
Taking care of yourself is a key part of being healthy, both mentally and physically. Particularly if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or some other form of mental health challenges, self-care is even more important. The demands of everyday life can be quite overwhelming, and filling all the various roles in your life can leave you exhausted and worn out. You may be a parent, a sibling, an employee, a spouse, a friend, and more, and while you may love your life and most of your responsibilities, you have to take some time to take care of yourself on a regular basis. If you do not have good physical or mental health, you won’t be able to fill those roles nearly as well as if you were healthy, rested, and taken care of. Sometimes, we get so used to meeting deadlines and completing the to-do list and taking care of others that we don’t even realize we are neglecting ourselves. We wonder why we’re so exhausted every single night and why we’re unhappy even when things seem to be going well. A lot of that comes down to self-care. If you’re not taking time to refresh and recharge yourself, you will likely get overrun with exhaustion and may even find yourself struggling with anxiety or depression. As the saying goes, you can’t pour into others from an empty cup, so you need to make sure you’re taking time regularly to fill your own cup. You can’t and shouldn’t rely on others to fill your cup for you, so you need to explore your current self-care practices and make any changes to ensure you’re doing a good job taking care of yourself.
Does Self-Care Mean I Have to Change Everything About My Life?
When some people hear the term “self-care,” they think about lavish weekend getaways, weekly massage appointments, and the like. Others think it means they need to take up a morning yoga routine or change their entire diet to ensure they’re as healthy as possible. While all of those things can be considered forms of self-care, they are not exactly what we’re talking about here. Taking better care of yourself doesn’t mean you have to change your entire life, and it doesn’t even mean you have to change your daily routine or your bad habits. It simply means that you intentionally choose yourself on occasion, and that means doing something for yourself that makes you feel cared for. Imagine that a spouse or friend treated you to a fun day out for your birthday. What would that look like? Self-care is about doing something like that for yourself just because. It may be about treating yourself to a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop once a week or not cleaning the kitchen after dinner one night so you can take a bath instead. It may mean going out golfing with your friends on a Saturday morning or taking a random mental health day off from work just because you can. It may be a routine thing for you, such as implementing a skincare routine or working out first thing in the morning, but it may not be. It’s not about changing every aspect of your life or even about neglecting the people around you. Self-care is simply choosing to take care of yourself on occasion to keep your cup filled up.
When Self-Care Feels Selfish
Even in today’s world where people are often too focused on themselves, for some reason, self-care still gets neglected quite often. The main reason is that it’s viewed as selfish to pick yourself over someone else. It’s considered self-centered to say no to helping a friend because you planned to go get your nails done, or to turn down an outing with the in-laws because you made plans to go out with your buddies. There is a fine line between taking care of yourself and being selfish, but most people tend to choose others over themselves so much that they end up struggling with depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and other mental health challenges because of it. Sometimes, you do need to put yourself aside and do whatever needs to be done for your family, your job, or something else. But you should never neglect yourself or put yourself in uncomfortable or unwanted situations just because it’s the nice thing to do. Be aware of your wants and needs, and take care of yourself in whatever way you see fit.
What Are Some Ways to Show Yourself Love?
Remember that when we talk about self-care, we’re not necessarily talking about hugely ornate experiences to refresh your physical and mental health. There is a time and place for those, but you can start taking better care of yourself right now with just a few of these self-care techniques.
Be aware of yourself. Think about your physical needs and what you can do to make yourself feel better physically. Do you need a nap, some water, or a healthy snack? Maybe you need to go for a run or take a hot bath or make a doctor’s appointment about something you’ve been worried about. Be aware of your physical needs and do what you need to do to meet them.
Be honest with yourself. If something is upsetting you, let yourself think about it and process it. Maybe you need to talk to a friend about it, journal about it, or speak to a counselor. Ignoring stressors does not make them go away, and they can actually impact your physical and mental health far more than you realize when you try to ignore them.
Be thankful. Even in the direst of circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for. And more likely than not, being consciously thankful for something even when life is hard will help you be more positive, happier, and healthier. Being grateful can do a lot for your mood and mindset, and intentionally choosing to focus on the positives in your life is a great way to take good care of yourself.
Do things that bring you joy. Most of us have hobbies that are incredibly neglected due to the responsibilities of life. You may plan to take part in your hobby after the kids go to bed or over the weekend or on your next day off, but you’re either too tired to do it or something comes up that has you pushing back the time again. Make time for these things, and don’t hesitate to schedule them in if you have to.
Take time for yourself. This can be incredibly challenging in today’s world, but it’s an important aspect of self-care that is often overlooked. Make a date with yourself and do whatever you’d like during that time. Ignore your phone, don’t do anything on your to-do list, and just enjoy being alone. Be at peace with your thoughts during this time and do something that is fun or relaxing to you. Allow yourself to clear your mind of your responsibilities or the needs of others for the time, and just take some quality time to be alone.
Change some health habits. If your physical health is a struggle, implementing self-care may be about changing some daily habits. This may mean cooking more often, drinking more water on a daily basis, implementing an exercise routine, or improving hygiene habits. You know what your body needs to function better and feel better, so embrace those things and make positive changes in your life.