What Does Self-Care Look Like?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the importance of self-care for our overall well-being. However, self-care isn’t only important in the wake of stressful situations such as a pandemic, it is important all the time. Self-care should be a lifelong practice we dedicate ourselves to perfecting. If you have a family or partner, you may struggle with feeling particularly guilty or selfish for prioritizing yourself. It is time to learn how to stop feeling guilty and some things you can do to practice self-care, especially if you aren’t sure where to start. What does self-care look like exactly and how can you make it a part of your life? Below, we will dive into the ins and outs of caring for yourself, the benefits of self-care, and how a therapist can help you reach your self-care goals.
Examples of How to Take Care of Yourself
Self-care may look different for everyone; what’s important is asking yourself what you need in order to feel cared for. Taking care of yourself can be as simple as taking a hot shower, breathing in fresh air, burning a scented candle, cuddling with a pet, soaking up some sun, or listening to music. Furthermore, self-care may not be the same thing every day. As our needs and desires shift, so should our self-care routines.
There are, however, a few key self-care elements that will be most beneficial if you remain consistent. These include: adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and exercise. Paying attention to these three things will help you build a sturdy foundation of physical health. Remember, there is a strong connection between your body and mind. The things you do to care for your body will also help you think and feel better.
Taking care of your social, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs are also all a part of self-care. Socialization and close relationships are very important to your well-being, yet our relationships are often neglected when we are busy. The best way to cultivate and maintain close relationships is to put in the adequate time and energy needed to build meaningful relationships with others. Perhaps you could go on a lunch date with a close friend, join a support group of people going through similar experiences, or call a family member or friend on the phone. To assess your social self-care, ask yourself, “what are you doing to nurture your relationships with friends and family?”.
Mental / Emotional Self-Care
Next, let’s talk about mental and emotional self-care. Mental self-care includes doing things to keep your mind sharp and active. Activities such as puzzles, reading a book, learning about topics that interest you, trying new activities, or doing something you have been avoiding will help stimulate your mind and may boost your self-confidence. Additionally, it is important to have healthy coping skills to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Developing ways to acknowledge and express your emotions is key. You may think about setting aside time for leisure activities that help you process your emotions as a form of emotional self-care.
Nurturing your spirit may or may not include religion, depending on what feels best for you. Spiritual self-care can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection to the universe. Getting in touch with your values and what really matters will help to foster a calm mind.
How to Not Feel Guilty About Prioritizing Self-Care
First and foremost, to eliminate guilt surrounding self-care you must remember taking care of yourself makes you a better friend, family member, partner, and/or parent. In other words, to care for others effectively we must first care for ourselves. There is nothing inherently indulgent about practicing self-care, rather it is a crucial aspect to living a fulfilled, healthy and happy life. Furthermore, if you give too much without refiling your own cup, you run the risk of feeling resentful. Resentful help and care does not make either person feel good and feelings of resentment could continue to build-up, eventually causing major trouble.
You may feel like dedicating more time to self-care means you are taking away from something else, that there is a cost involved in self-care. This is not true. Again, if you do not prioritize taking care of yourself, it is likely your other roles and responsibilities will suffer. You must learn to set boundaries for yourself and say no when it is right for you. You are not a bad person if you cannot say yes to everything. No one can or should. Learning to say no and stick to your boundaries will help you get the rest and rejuvenation you need and deserve.
Reaching Your Self-Care Goals
If you are still struggling to practice self-care, seeing a therapist may help. A therapist can help you work through the underlying reasons you are feeling guilty or resistant to self-care. Then, together you can build a self-care plan that is right for you and your needs. Having an objective third party to discuss your triumphs and tribulations can make it easier to fully express your emotions and ask for help. Chriselda Santos, licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, is passionate about defining the specific pressure placed on your daily life, then, providing you with the tools to better cope. Utilizing your personal strengths and capabilities, Chriselda will be able to help you develop healthier behaviors and restore hope. For more information about Chriselda’s expertise, or to book an appointment, visit her website.