In light of being your best self, self-care is your avenue for getting the most out of your living experience. Taking time to care for yourself is necessary for growth, as well as maintaining how far you’ve already come.
What is Self-Care?
Though the idea can be somewhat abstract, a strong hallmark of sufficient self-care is the collective result of cultivating a good relationship with oneself, and by extension, others.
What Self-Care is Not
The open-ended definition of self-care makes it common to feel confused about the difference between caring for yourself, versus over prioritizing yourself. Self-care might evolve as something “other” when the focus shifts from being a better version overall to feeling good at the moment.
Understanding how to be better requires observation of your space in the world around you. So, if the focus is entirely on you all of the time, leaving your relationships, work, and quality of life on the side, it might be time to reassess your self-care.
Self-care should have benefits that go beyond yourself, as well as a balance of boundaries. It might be treading the lines of selfishness if you notice that there are no other improvements aside from momentary lapses of feeling good.
Why Self-Care Matters Psychologically
When considering self-care through the lens of psychology, there are two central components to its impact. Self-care matters psychologically for prevention, as well as preservation.
Prevention and Preservation
Preserve the positive aspects that contribute to your mental well being, and prevent negative impact from happening with self-care. Self-care can positively affect your mental health, specifically stress levels, and the ability to cope with adversity.
Preventing Burnout and the Danger of Neglect
Self-care is an effective way to prevent things like job burnout, as well as reduce overall stress, which can harm both your mental and physical health. Alternatively, neglecting self-care can lead to psychological consequences such as depression, anxiety, lack of mental clarity, difficulty in relationships, low self-esteem, and addiction.
Individuals in the Industry and Recovery
While self-care can benefit anyone psychologically, it is specifically used for those in the recovery of mental illness, caregivers of those who are ill, as well as medical students and professionals in the mental health arena.
In fact, for some within the profession of psychology, specifically, self-care is regarded as an “ethical imperative” to maintaining wellness as a therapist. For example, Psychologists who are exposed to challenging emotional and psychological circumstances of their patients, are subject to a condition called vicarious traumatization, or the empathetic internalizing of another person’s trauma.
In respect to keeping up with a healthy practice that benefits the patient as well as the therapist, self-care is the link that allows for these types of professionals to establish solid ground for themselves so that they may better serve others.
How Can You Start Taking Better Care of Yourself?
Once we understand the role of self-care in our lives, we can begin to integrate it with simple tactics that work to chisel away at a difficulty and build us up. Get started with these fresh fifteen ways to incorporate self-care into your life little by little.
1. Get Your Sleep
Getting enough sleep is an essential self-care move. Making sure you’re well-rested for your activity level, lifestyle, and individual needs are critical for showing up at optimal function each day. Give yoga poses for better sleep, bedroom hacks, or natural remedies a try.
2. Value Gut Health
Maintaining proper gut health plays a major role in how we feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s connected to everyday ailments like headaches or the immune system. More serious health issues like heart disease, as well as anxiety, all have a connection to the gut.
3. Always Exercise
Taking time to work out or get moving is so healthy for the mind and body. Finding the motivation may not always be easy, but in the scheme of self-care, it is necessary. Exercise is key to keeping physical and mental momentum that helps propel you through life.
4. Say “No” When You Need to
Learning, knowing, and being able to execute the use of the word “no” is a self-care skill we all need. Sometimes saying no is hard, especially if some part of us wants to say yes. Avoid draining your energy by delegating it places it doesn’t belong for the sake of avoiding disappointing others if you decide to say no.
Saying no when you need to is your way of conserving energy that you need to refuel, rest, and move forward.
5. Be Grateful
Gratitude is care for everyone. The ability to gravitate toward an attitude where we feel grateful for the opportunities and experiences we have helps to pave space for more. Suddenly we’re lighter and more receptive. Being grateful can improve your life by making you feel more content with what you have, nurturing resilience, finding self-control, and supporting our relationships in a positive way.
6. Announce Your Plans
If you tend to rise to the occasion when you feel it is what others expect of you—announcing your efforts might be a viable insertion of self-care. Letting others in on your intentions will help you stay consistent with your word and help with self-accountability.
7. Meditation and Breath Work
Because caring for yourself consistently requires a solid foundation of intention, mindfulness is needed to ensure that the ground beneath the “why” of it all doesn’t become unstable. If you’re not sure why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re more likely to fall off when it becomes a struggle. Meditation and breathwork are your safe space for harnessing the mindfulness needed for lasting and powerful intention, as well as a variety of other benefits.
Meditation can work to reduce stress in the body, improve memory, focus, attention span, mood, and state of health.
8. Find Forgiveness
The will to forgive is a powerful agent for letting go of things that can get in the way of all of your efforts. Learning to forgive toxic people, for example, can help us tap into our empathy, which can help to drive our patience. Learning to forgive ourselves is a valuable form of self-care that will set us free of unnecessary and harbored emotional baggage.
8. Get Organized
Organization can improve many aspects of life. With all of the things that can get messy like living spaces and relationships alike, organization is a tool that works against the hindrances that a lack of it can bring. Declutter your life to make room for better things.
9. Safeguard Self-Care Time
Take time to yourself, and be serious about it. Showing others that we are not willing to compromise or negotiate when it comes time to care for ourselves is a self-care skill that takes practice.
It’s tempting to cancel our efforts when something else comes along, especially if the self-care we had planned to engage with feels like work. This is when it is most important to view self-care as a discipline that ultimately works to your benefit in the end. Finding “me” time is a challenge when you’re busy, but it can be done.
12. Plant Self-Care
Owning and caring for plants is a form of self-care that is similar to having and interacting with pets. Being responsible for another living thing allows us to access the parts of ourselves that are primed to act on survival, but instead for another life.
This adds incentive to self-care when it becomes difficult. Alternatively, plants can teach us a lot about taking care of ourselves if you take a moment to consider it. They can help to spark productivity, reduce stress, lower anxiety levels, and increase memory.
13. Read to Absorb
Some might like to curl up and get cozy with a good read for pleasure. But reading is an incredible resource for getting in touch with the cerebral influences of self-care. The act of reading itself is profoundly beneficial, but the content is a bonus. Reading on self-care is an effective way to incorporate it into your life with ease.
14. Self-Talk Apps
The way we practice talking with ourselves is a potent influence on how we feel. It can be self-care or self-sabotage if we aren’t careful. Thoughts are never easy to manage, and self-dialogue is even more complicated. Make things easier on yourself by implementing the use of self-talk apps.
15. Mixed Media
On the subject of crossing self-care with technology, podcasts are an exciting way to develop self-care while learning about other things. There is no shortage of podcasts designed for self-development.
How to Get Into a Self-Care Routine
Introducing self-care to your daily life may not feel natural in the beginning. It might feel like work and take effort to keep up with. Follow these basic guidelines for getting into a self-care routine.
Keep Things Simple: Try not to go crazy or get too aggressive with adding self-care to your life. Keeping things simple and manageable will help to prevent your self-care from evolving from a restorative and conservative practice to a selfish one. Stick with methods you feel you can be consistent with.
Make Plans: Find a way to schedule a time to practice self-care consciously. Making time for it regularly will eventually enable it as a habit.
Remain Conscious: Stay aware of how you’re feeling, what you’re doing about it, and the effectiveness of your efforts. Remain in-tune with your emotions and internalization of life by valuing consciousness as you go.