I’ve been talking a lot about the topic of self-care on the blog lately. For one, Finding Your Best You is a blog about self-care for women, supporting positive mental health and encouraging women to be the best that they can be and secondly, self-care is one of those things that is often overlooked and not considered as important as what I think it should be. In this blog post, I explain what self-care is and why self-care is important. You’re welcome to read more articles about self-care here.
Self-Care: It’s more than just a wanky, new-age thing
I think self-care has been getting a bit of a bad rap lately, especially with the evolution of the health and wellness era with diets filled with super foods and organic materials and social media influences flaunting their extravagant self-care rituals on Instagram. I can understand how self-care can be off putting and make you sound extremely self-indulgent and full of yourself.
The theory behind the practice of self-care is more than just a fluffy, wanky, new-age thing, full of rituals involving face masks, massages and expensive holidays that people post on Instagram. The theory of self-care is about nourishing our mental, emotional and physical health so that we can recharge, refuel and regenerate. Consider the practice of self-care to be as basic of a necessity as showering regularly and brushing your teeth and is full of psychological and physiological benefits.
If you want to see what real women are doing for their self-care, join the Finding Your Best You Facebook group, and share your self-care selfies every Sunday!
So, what is self-care anyway?
As I mentioned previously, self-care is an act that you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional and physical health. It means different things for different people, but at the bottom line, it shouldn’t be something that isn’t done by force or takes anything away from you. It should be something that you enjoy, that makes you feel good and that nourishes your mind and your body.
What self-care is not
Not everything that we enjoy and makes us feel good is self-care though. Sometimes the things that we enjoy and makes us feel good can be destructive to our bodies and our minds. I’m talking about those unhealthy coping strategies that people do when they’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, worried or anxious. The coping strategies such as using alcohol, drug, over-eating, eating non-nutritious foods like take away or chocolate and taking unhealthy risks. These things are not self-care. These things are destructive towards our bodies and can change the chemical balances in our brains that make us more unhealthy and unwell.
What are the benefits of self-care?
There are so many benefits to self-care if it’s done correctly (don’t worry, I can help you learn how to take care of yourself correctly). You’re more motivated and productive. You’re resistance to illness and disease is improved and you’re not getting sick all of the time. You feel good about yourself, you have enhanced self-esteem and you know that you’re a worthwhile person who is valuable, competent and deserving. You become more aware of yourself, what your needs are and how to meet those needs in a positive way. You also have more empathy and compassion towards other people.
What are the risks if we’re not taking care of ourselves?
When we don’t take care of ourselves and practice regular self-care, we run the risk of feeling unhappy, having low self-esteem, feel resentment towards others, our mental health diminishes and we become anxious and experience depression and we can also experience burn out. If we’re at that stage that we’re experiencing burn out and its hard to get out of bed, it can be more challenging to heal and come back feeling refreshed and physically and mentally well.
Why self-care gets neglected and is the first thing to go?
Sometimes when you’re a naturally caring person or are a parent, you spend more time caring and nurturing others than caring and nurturing ourselves. Whether it be caring for your children, your partner, your friends, your parents, your work colleagues or if you’re in the helping industry like I am, you spent a lot of the time caring for clients and the people that you work with. A lot of the time attending to our own needs gets overlooked and when things become busy, taking care of ourselves is often the first thing to go. When we consider and attend to our own needs we can not only take better care of ourselves in the future, but we can take better care of those around us.
More often than not, people don’t practice self-care or it becomes neglected because they feel guilty, that they think its selfish, that their schedules are ‘too busy’ to include self-care activities, they think that self-care is another expense that they cannot afford or believe that self-care is a reward or a ‘treat’ that you do on a rare occasion. If you’re feeling this way, you might like to work with me where we work together to discover what your needs are, how to look out for the signs that you’re not meeting your needs, challenging your beliefs about self-care and putting a self-care plan in place with strategies that work for you (program coming soon).
Who should be practicing self-care
Practicing self-care is something that everybody should be doing but especially if you’re experiencing grief, if you’re caring for others, if you live with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, if you’re a carer of a child with special needs, a foster carer or you’re a woman running her own business. Whether we like it or not, if we’re not taking care of ourselves, we’re not caring for those around us and we can become a burden.
In summary, self-care is a practice about treating yourself with respect, meeting your own needs in a way that is beneficial to your body and your mental health and is a big component to living a balanced lifestyle. It requires having an awareness of what your own needs are and how to meet them. It involves having the ability to step back and take the time to replenish what is missing rather than letting it diminish completely.
Here’s to finding your best you
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