Six Things That Promote Self-Care: Plus Six Ways to Help
Most of our day is consumed by the needs of others. Our roles force us to place our personal interests behind the needs of everyone else. And at the end of the day, we have nothing left. Self-care is an often overlooked component of a healthy physical, emotional, and spiritual body.
Why self-care is important
We’re expected to be super-human in our roles as parents and professionals. But we can quickly run out out of energy if we’re not careful.
There’s a reason the flight attendant tells you to place your own oxygen mask on first. Without your own supply, you’re unable to help those around you. It’s not selfish when you realize that without self-care you’re unable to care for others.
If you’re going to have anything left to give then you need to take care of yourself.
Six things to focus on to promote self-care
Prioritizing self-care means taking the time to focus on your personal health and well-being. There are six things you should focus on in particular.
1. Your physical health
It’s difficult to be joyful when you’re unhappy with your body. Research shows that exercise increases the level of serotonin in your brain improving mood and energy. Your self-care practice should involve exercise you enjoy. Consider going for a run, practicing yoga, swimming or any other activity that gives you energy.
2. Your sleep
A lack of sleep affects our physical and mental health. And far too many of us are sleep-deprived. When we’re busy, stressed, and overworked, our sleep is usually the first thing to be affected. In response to a stressful day, we resort to binge-watching our favorite series instead of sleeping. But sleep specialists recommend adults get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is an essential part of your body’s renewal process.
3. Your diet
Your diet plays an important role in self-care. Comfort foods, processed baked goods, and fast food should be an infrequent part of your nutrition. Responding to stress by going through a drive-thru is not self-care. Instead, take care of yourself by consuming foods that nourish your body rather than impairing it.
4. The things that matter to you
A very simple, yet often overlooked part of self-care is spending time on the things that matter to you. Ask yourself, “What matters to me?” You should take time for the things you enjoy doing and the people you enjoy spending time with.
5. Your gratitude
For many of us, it’s natural to focus on the negative things and overlook the blessings of life. When something goes wrong at work it’s all we think about the rest of the week. But instead of holding on to the negative experiences we encounter, cherish the good memories. We’re surrounded by beauty on a daily basis. Make a habit of looking for what you have to be grateful for in each moment of your day and allow it to crowd out the negative things of life.
6. Your answer
If we were to ask, most of you would probably agree that you say “yes” far more than you say “no.” All those commitments leave little room for self-care. Saying yes to everything is stressful and can lead to resentment and burnout. Your physical and emotional health will suffer as a result. It’s not easy, but learn to say “no.”
Six simple strategies that promote self-care
Once you’ve decided to commit to self-care, you should schedule a time for any of the following self-care promoting strategies. Choose one or more of the following activities, schedule it on your calendar, and treat it like an appointment you’re unable to cancel.
1. Get a massage
This one can be especially enjoyable. If your budget doesn’t allow for regular massages with a professional, consider trading with a friend or asking your spouse.
2. Take a bath
Get out the bubbles, oils, and scented soaps, light a candle and soak until your stress has melted away.
3. Read a book
When was the last time you read for pleasure? Not an employee handbook, not a cookbook, and not your child’s homework. Get a book you can get lost in, find a quiet room, and enjoy.
4. Do yoga
It’s only natural for us to suggest yoga. But it can be any exercise or activity that you enjoy. It could even be going for a walk. Just be sure to choose an activity that promotes stress relief.
5. Have a day to yourself
Take the day off. That might even mean getting a babysitter so you can go shopping for the afternoon. Whatever it is you enjoy, spend the day pampering yourself.
Last year there were 658 million unused vacation days in the U.S. Stop saving your vacation days and plan a trip! Traveling is the perfect way to unplug, break away from routine, and embrace new experiences.
Self-care is an essential part of a healthy mind, body, and spirit. It can easy to get lost in our service to everyone around us. But it’s important that you prioritize your needs as well. Maintaining physical health and scheduling personal time is an important part of sustaining your long-term health. How are you going to focus on self-care this week?