What is self-care? And why should you care about it? Self-care is engaging in life in a way that helps maintain a well-balanced you, whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. For many of us, it seems like natural instinct to care for others by prioritizing their needs over our own and sometimes even neglecting our needs completely. And this seems to work for all parties involved, but not for very long. We eventually start to feel unbalanced and unwell.
Research shows that self-care can improve physical health. Physical wellness leads to increases in positive mood and helps you feel good about yourself. The absence of self-care while caring for others leads to burn-out and can make caring for others more difficult. Better self-care leads to better ability to care for others.
How do you engage in self-care?
The answer is: stress management. Stress, and especially chronic stress, can have a significant impact on your health.
- Healthy diet/water intake – Eat regular meals and snacks. Don’t rush through your meals because doing so could lead to indigestion or feeling tense. Avoid foods that are more likely to worsen stress: caffeine, fast food, high sugar foods, alcohol. Drink at least 8 (8 oz.) glasses of water daily.
- Adequate sleep – Get 7-8 hours per night. Poor sleep leads to increased irritability, stress, and compromised ability to effectively engage in daily activities.
- Physical activity – At least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. If 30 continuous minutes is difficult to find in your busy schedule, then you can do 3 10-minute activities.
- Seek support – Talk to friends and family or do activities with them.
- Give yourself a break – Do an activity that you enjoy, give yourself some alone time, do something relaxing.
Remind yourself that your needs are also important. Care for yourself so you can also care for others!