Self-care is about identifying your needs for your physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual well-being and taking deliberate action to meet those needs. Self-care includes taking the time to do activities that nourish you; it also requires restricting situations or activities that interfere with your well-being. Knowing your limits and setting appropriate boundaries is important in your self-care. Letting go of people or situations that deplete you and making space for that which fills you with energy and joy is the essence of self-care. Self-care is an essential aspect self-love, and it means treating yourself with the same kindness and respect that you would treat others.
It is important to make some space in your life, so you do not feel overwhelmed when adding self-care time on top of your other daily activities. You may not think you have the time for self-care, but if you take a look at your life, you may be surprised how much time and energy you dedicate to activities or people that not only don’t provide nourishment but also may actually drain you. Notice what situations or people in your life create stress or tension. It might not be possible to walk away from draining situations completely, but look to see where and how you can set some boundaries.
What you do in your self-care time is up to you. Think about what makes you feel good, what nourishes your soul? Self-care is different for everyone; only you know what nurtures you. Some ideas are:
- playing a musical instrument
- listening to music
- meditating or practicing yoga
- writing or journalling
- watching a good movie
- painting, drawing, sculpting
- making a good meal for yourself
- organizing and decluttering your space
- calling a friend
- learning or trying something new
- taking rest (going to bed early, sleeping in, taking a nap)
- soaking in a hot bath
- connecting with nature
- practicing gratitude
Why is Self-Care Necessary?
Self-care is a crucial component of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but it is often overlooked. We need daily renewal so we can continue to live each day with an open-hearted curiosity. Self-care is a way to safeguard our creativity and take care of ourselves on a most basic level.
We may feel that taking time for self-care is selfish; that by spending time caring for ourselves, we are neglecting others, but this is not true. When we take the time to nourish ourselves first, we can better serve others; we cannot give from an empty cup.
We may also judge ourselves when we take time for self-care, feeling that there are more immediate or more important things that we should be doing. But, taking the time to enjoy your meal or making a point to sit in stillness every day is not slacking, it is a form of self-preservation.
Self-care is simply taking a moment to refuel before we find ourselves running on empty. Skipping self-care makes us more prone to burnout, illness, and injuries. We may feel we are more efficient if we skip self-care to get other things done, but in reality, it takes more time and energy to recover from self-neglect than it does make self-care part of our daily lives.
Self-care is also crucial to our productivity, it isn’t a reward for getting a job done, it is part of the process. Taking time for ourselves is a way to help us refocus; we actually learn and perform better when we take a break. Denying our basic comforts, like skipping lunch to finish a job may work occasionally, but making a regular habit of depriving these basic needs does not pay off in the long run.
When we consistently neglect our needs we become unhappy and develop feelings of resentment towards ourselves and others. We may do things out of obligation instead of genuine desire. When we realize that we are worthy of care, love, and attention, and take the time to give it to ourselves, we feel fulfilled and naturally want to give more to others.
Through self-care, we learn to relax and nurture ourselves. Instead of feeling, stressed and overwhelmed self-care teaches us how to relax and nurture ourselves. Self-care is an essential aspect of daily life, not something we do when we have crashed or burned out.
A fun way to get inspired to take more self-care time is using self-care cards. See How to Make Self-Care Cards for instructions.
- Cheryl Richardson, The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time
- Alice D. Domar, Henry Dreher, Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself As Effectively As You Care for Everyone Else
- Hannah Braime, From Coping to Thriving: How to Turn Self-Care Into a Way of Life
- Ram Dass, How Can I Help?: Stories and Reflections on Service
Photo: Ivan Kruck