Almost every one of us has come across the term “self-care”, especially during the trying times of the pandemic. But surprisingly, most still don’t know what it really means.
The world has become so fast-paced that we are always moving for the next big thing. This can be both in our favor and our loss. We have so much on our plates cause us to lose what’s really important to us, i.e., ourselves.
If you cannot pay proper attention to yourself and keep on pushing like a workhorse, you will likely end up burning yourself out.
That is why taking care of yourself is equally important as pursuing your goals. And there are many different ways you can exercise self-maintenance. So let’s dive deeper into what it’s all about.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care can mean many things, as everyone defines this subject differently. Some people think it means being comfortable and treating themselves every time they achieve something.
In contrast, some consider it to be selfish for your own needs and putting yourself above everything else.
While in actual practice, it means much more than these menial definitions. Don’t confuse this with being selfish and self-indulgent; taking care of yourself and being a narcissist are entirely different things. Being obsessed with yourself doesn’t count as self-love.
There is no right or wrong way to describe it, as it essentially means taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
But this is not just that simple. If you’re not doing things to keep yourself healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually, you aren’t doing justice to yourself.
How Self-Care is Important for You
After understanding how self-maintenance is spread in different domains of your life, it becomes essential that you practice it to keep yourself balanced in every aspect.
Taking time out and spending it to better yourself mentally and physically is crucial to conserve energy for continuing the daily grind. Apart from that, their countless other reasons why you should practice self-care. Some of the main ones are:
1. Helps in Stress Management:
Stress management becomes easier when you care for your mental well-being and peace. You can better withstand stressful situations, cope with them, and develop innovative solutions to avoid any untoward situation.
A research in this light found that medical students who practiced self-care were less stressed and able to enjoy a better quality of life.
When your mind is crowded with negative thoughts, self-doubt, and unnecessary worry about everything, you are more likely to be set back by any obstacle that comes into your life.
Practicing mindful meditation and taking time for your own well-being is thus crucial for yourself and helping others in such a situation.
2. Improves Physical Health:
When you take out time to focus on yourself and do stuff for your physical health, you will gradually see improvement in your internal and external body.
Taking care of your health is the biggest favor you can do for yourself, as it is not easy living with diseases and disabilities.
You can significantly improve your quality of life and happiness when you exercise, eat healthily, or do physical activities to keep your body working.
3. Helps Find a Purpose in Life:
Prioritizing yourself helps in finding a purpose in life. The more time you devote to your mind and thoughts positively, the more you can think through your life and find a purpose.
In a research, it was found out that people with a strong life purpose had a decreased mortality rate compared to those who didn’t. So mindful and conscious living leads to better life choices and, thus, better outcomes.
4. Improves Mental Health:
One of the best things about self-love is that it resets your mind when you need it the most. Your life can get hectic quite quickly without you even realizing it.
So purposely setting aside some time for yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself. This decreases anxiety, depression, and mental fatigue.
When you spend more time doing things, you start feeling good inside, greatly reducing your negative thoughts. Having a healthy mind and state of being is also crucial alongside other things in life.
5. Improves Relationships:
When you focus on yourself, you’re actually benefitting your interpersonal relationships.
Spending time alone, like meditating and reflecting, can also benefit your relationship with your loved ones. It removes your tendency to be emotionally dependent on them and allows you time to breathe and enjoy personal space.
5. Increases Your Resilience:
When we do things that make us mentally calmer and more composed, we become better suited to deal with the challenges that come in our life.
It helps you to be more resilient as you are mentally free to deal with daily stressors.
6. Enhances Your Self Confidence and Self-Esteem:
By practicing acts of self-love every day, you automatically make your well-being a priority. And doing so helps you develop a great relationship with your true self.
You gain a sense of self-worth when you do things that make you feel mentally and physically well. These positive feelings, in turn, boost your self-esteem and confidence.
7. Makes You Feel More Energetic:
Being busy might seem to be something to take pride in this fast-paced world. However, working all day and having no time for yourself makes you exhausted in the end.
This tedious routine gradually makes you less productive and makes you less satisfied with life. Being stressed all the time can take a toll on your physical health, even if your job isn’t physically demanding.
To get over this fatigue, you need to take good care of yourself. Practicing it daily helps reduce stress and increases your clarity. Besides making you feel more energetic, it improves your sleep, orientation, and focus.
What are the Barriers to Self-care?
Even though you may think that taking care of yourself is essential for you, but knowingly or unknowingly, you might put yourself at the bottom of the priority list.
Continuously neglecting yourself can be counterproductive and can push you into a vicious cycle of frustration and anxiety, making you compromise your life.
This may be due to the barriers that everyone struggles to overcome when prioritizing themselves. There can be many reasons for these obstacles, but the following are common.
1. Lack of Motivation to Change:
It can feel like quite a task when you are first starting out. You might be demotivated because of this reason, but it’s nothing to worry about.
To overcome this obstacle, you just need to start small and see how easy it is to adjust yourself. When you start to notice tiny improvements in your well-being, you’ll be more determined to take it even a step further.
2. Difficulty in Changing Your Behavior:
Personality types that fear change also fears adopting changes even if they benefit them.
You can either be too much of a perfectionist or a highly anxious person when it comes to changing yourself.
3. Feeling Guilty About Taking Care of Yourself:
Some people confuse self-care with self-indulgence which can cause you to feel guilty about yourself. However, this is not the case.
Self-indulgence means allowing yourself to do anything you desire. This is totally opposite to this concept, which involves modifying your routine to make you less stressed overall.
To give you an example, having dinners in expensive restaurants can be considered self-indulgence. But having well-balanced meals with all the necessary portions at your home will count towards self-care.
4. Being Unaware of Your Own Needs:
People who are excessively preoccupied with their work might become numb to their needs. They may work without even eating or may work under pressure even when their departments become short-staffed.
In such situations, you may sacrifice your need and eventually become unaware of them. So it’s important to sit back and see what’s missing.
5. Believing Self-care is for the Weak:
You might believe that this is only for people who are sick or depressed. And not for people who are working normally. When you think of it this way, it becomes a barrier to achieving personal well-being.
If you don’t do so, you’ll burn yourself out and struggle to maintain your health. It’s essential to address your needs regardless of how stressed or not stressed you are.
6. Putting the Needs of Others First
This is one of the most common obstacles to self-love. If you are a parent or a caregiver, then you are likely to put the needs of others above yours.
When you are in such a situation, this automatically becomes your response. And it becomes hard to prioritize yourself. Otherwise, you would feel guilty or selfish about expressing your needs.
7. Thinking Self-care Takes Time
Many people consider themselves too busy and can’t find time for themselves. While this may be true to some extent but it’s not always the case.
Truth be told, you might have entangled yourself in a lot of responsibilities that might make you think this way. Moreover, it is easy to spot the fault in other people’s schedules than in our own.
So, it’s time to sit back and see where you can optimize your time for yourself. You have to analyze the hours in your day and learn to say no to the things that bog you down.
Only then can you find time to do the things that make you more balanced.
8. Believing You Don’t Deserve Self-care!
It’s natural to consider ourselves unworthy of something until we have actually gotten it. The same is the situation when you start to consider taking out time for yourself.
Don’t think of spending time for yourself as a zero-sum game. When you choose to do something that makes you fit and more refreshed, you become better equipped to deal with new challenges that come your way.
You only have control over yourself. So, if you get a better grip on taking care of yourself, the more you’ll be able to take care of others in return.
What are the Aspects of Self-Care?
There are many areas of life in which self-care plays an important role. All these aspects are interconnected and focus on taking care of you as a whole person. It could be anything that lights up your face. Let’s see what these essential elements are:
Emotional self-care means regulating your emotions and practicing empathy. Examples can include:
This type means practicing techniques to keep your body healthy. This includes:
In the spiritual aspect, it means having core values guiding you through life’s thick and thin. You can practice this by:
Taking care of yourself in the social setting means having a supportive group of people you can trust in difficult times. You can practice this by:
Psychological care means developing your creativity and learning new skills that help you tread better in life. Examples include:
This area mainly refers to taking care of your professional development and developing a good work ethic. It can be achieved by:
Developing a meaningful relationship with money makes you a more responsible person. You can practice financial care by:
By this, we mean being organized and well-sorted out in the real world. Example of this includes:
How To Practice Self-care?
By reading all the barriers and benefits of self-care, the only thing you might think is, how do I actually do it?
As already explained before, it’s not something extraordinary but straightforward to incorporate into your routine. Doing so improves your mental and physical health; even small acts of self-care can improve your life by manifolds.
So let’s get down to how you can get started with your self-care routine:
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is just as important as food is for you. Taking out only 30 minutes for a simple jog or light exercise helps you keep fit without much effort. And as you continue to keep on exercising, you become better with time.
2. Setting SMARTER Goals
You should be clear and see what goals you want to achieve in life. To do so, decide what’s important to you and what’s not.
When you are mindful of priorities that make your life meaningful, you automatically become more relaxed and comfortable as you are less cluttered with distractions.
3. Being Optimistic
Removing the negative thoughts dwindling in your head and adopting a forward outlook helps you maintain better physical health than your pessimistic peers. And also helps reduce the chances of being affected by chronic diseases.
4. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude can be defined as appreciating what’s important in your life. Sit back and see all the blessings you have and all the progress you have made by trying your best.
Making this a part of your self-care routine helps you build resilience and a positive attitude about your well-being.
5. Stay in Touch with Friends and Family
Having a supportive social circle is crucial for your mental peace. It also increases your sense of community. There’s always a time in life when we need to talk about stuff that’s causing us distress, and having a good friend to talk to is a good stress reliever.
6. Do Something Relaxing Each Day
Try to incorporate relaxation or well-being activities into your routine. It can be as simple as taking a relaxing walk in a park or enjoying refreshing hobbies like gardening, sketching, or reading your favorite books.
Schedule a regular time for these activities, and you’ll notice how fulfilling your every day becomes.
7. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness means being fully conscious and aware of your situation and everything around you. It allows you to be less judgemental and more curious about the working of your mind.
You might think that mindfulness might require a lot of effort, but it’s all about making it your habit. You don’t need any special equipment to practice this. Just 10 minutes of your time would be more than enough for a start.
8. Learn to say ‘No.’
It’s good to be kind to others and help them when possible. But it’s pointless to help others at the cost of your own physical and mental well-being.
If it’s something that wastes your time or harms you financially or emotionally, then learn to say no regardless of what others might think or say.
9. Spend less time on social media.
Keeping up with the latest news and trends and spending so much time catering to notifications across multiple apps can retard your thinking process.
It’s good to switch off your phone or put it on airplane mode for at least one hour each day and read a book or do something enjoyable. Detox from social media more often to free your time for things that actually matter.
10. Fix your Bedtime
This might sound weird, but having a fixed bedtime can help you fix up your routine and give you a fresh start in the morning.
When you stay organized, you will have more leisure time to pay heed to yourself.
Final Words on the Importance of Self-Care:
By reading all this information about self-care, I am sure you can see how simple it is to make your life more refreshing just by practicing these steps.
The more self-care time you can fit into your calendar, the more likely you will flourish, grow, and enjoy life. So, what new ways of self-care will you incorporate into your daily life?
Let me know down in the comments!