Self-care is a popular topic of discussion these days. When working with clients, I often inquire about the self-care practices they include into their daily, weekly, and even monthly routines. It is common for me to hear clients say they’re unsure what the term means, and how to incorporate self-care into daily regimens. Self-care is a broad term. It can appear complicated when there are varying ideas about what it ‘should’ look like. This can create a misconception around the meaning and its application.
What is self-care?
The popularity of self-care in television programs, magazines, books, etc. makes it the current topic du jour. This can cause confusion on what it is, and what it may mean to you. Self-care is simply caring for you! It is putting yourself first, so you’re able to rejuvenate and be at your optimal functioning level. It is broad and vague because the idea of it is very subjective and individualized, and it has a different meaning for each person. The outcome is the same; the journey there is different. The overall goal of self-care is to help you be at your best to tackle the day (no matter what your day looks like).
Caring for yourself involves basic strategies that allow for rejuvenation. This can mean eating healthy, staying hydrated, exercise, good sleep, and whatever promotes to your optimal functioning. During times of distress, when schedules are busy and life is in transition, caring for yourself can be the first thing to go. During these times the prevailing attitude(s) can appear to be that we must “tough through.” But the opposite is in fact true. It is during these times we need to maintain extra focus on the foundations of physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing to ensure self-care is maintained. Optimal functioning will allow you to better manage stress and prevent burnout. Additionally, it is valuable to incorporate mindfulness strategies such as yoga, journalling, or prayer. Nature, exercise, or a good ole fashion face-to-face interaction with a loved one or a friend can help to reconnect with oneself and others. Integrating the senses during self-care can be useful as a grounding technique also, which can help with anxiety management.
I often ask clients if they’re familiar with the health and safety procedures of plane travel. In case of emergency, who do you put the oxygen mask on first? Yourself or a loved one? Self-care in this situation means giving yourself the means to have oxygen in order to be at your best to help others. Self-care, like the oxygen mask, breathes life, it rejuvenates, provides strength, and can make you more productive. Lets shift away from the idea that self-care is ‘selfish.’ Instead, lets focus on incorporating practices that encourage us to make ourselves a priority.