As I’ve got older, I’ve realized the importance of my own happiness and the act of self-care. Up until my early 20s, I cared more about what my friends were doing, partying, trying to fit in my studies and part-time work around my hectic social life―I generally didn’t listen to my body’s needs.
Now, I have this sense of fulfillment when I do listen to my body and give it what it needs―a healthy diet, regular exercise, meditation, enough sleep, and the confidence to turn down social events if I know that my health will suffer from overdoing it.
This article is going to look at what self-care means, how important it is, and show you 8 easy self care ideas that you can apply.
What Does Self-Care Mean?
In my opinion, self-care is the act of listening to your body and giving it love and gratitude―this also includes your mind. A blog post by Dr. Bruce Warner on the NHS website describes the act of self-care as the following:
‘Self-care is about keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself, when a pharmacist can help, and when to get advice from your GP or another health professional. If you have a long-term condition, self-care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it.
Applying self care ideas is recommended when you have a minor condition, which doesn’t normally need medical care (from a doctor or nurse) or any treatment in order to get better.
In practice, this means a person decides that they can manage their illness without seeing a doctor.
This may be because they don’t like taking remedies or pills, or because they believe they will recover just as quickly if they stay at home and rest until their illness goes away of its own accord. Or they may pop out to buy medicines over the counter at a pharmacy. Either way, ‘self-care’ is something millions of us do every day―for positive and practical reasons.
These are the common conditions that I suggest people can often manage for themselves:
- Coughs and colds
- Sprains and strains
- Sore throat
This explanation by Dr. Warner doesn’t include the importance of self-care for the mind and psyche, and instead focuses on self care ideas as the physical activity when you feel unwell. The Self Care Forum website has a similar outlook and defines self-care as the following:
‘The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.’
Delving deeper into the link between self-care and the mind, Forbes.com states an interesting take:
‘No matter how indulgent or fancy the term may sound, self care ideas are crucial for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. You shouldn’t neglect self-care and here’s why.
Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Self Care Ideas
Know Your Worth
Self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself as it produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and self-esteem. Also, self-care is necessary to remind yourself and others that you and your needs are important too.
A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Contrary to common belief, workaholism is not a virtue. Overworking, and the accompanying stress and exhaustion, can make you less productive, disorganized and emotionally depleted. It can also lead to all sorts of health problems, from anxiety and depression to insomnia and heart diseases. Professional self-care habits like taking intermittent breaks (for lunch, calling your mom, or taking a stroll), setting professional boundaries, avoiding overextending, etc. ensures that you stay sharp, motivated and healthy.
While a little dose of stress is a healthy way to give us a nudge that we need to meet the deadlines or finish that overdue task, constant stress and anxiety can have an adverse effect on your mental and physical health. Smart self care ideas like eating healthy, connecting with a loved one or, practicing meditation cuts down the toxic effects of stress by improving your mood and boosting your energy and confidence levels.
Start Living, Stop Existing
Life is a precious gift. So why waste it when we have the choice to have a more meaningful existence? Yes, you have a lot of responsibilities—fixing the dryer, mowing the lawn, paying bills. But it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself is also your responsibility. Little things like sipping tea while looking at the raindrops racing down the window glass, enjoying a bubble bath, or reading a book are essential for your daily happiness. While things, like taking up a new hobby or learning a new language, can make your life more purposeful by giving you a new reason to get up in the morning.
Better physical health: Self care ideas are not just about your mental health. It’s also about caring for your physical self, by eating healthy, taking adequate sleep, caring about your hygiene, exercising regularly, etc.’
Self-Care Is Not Selfish
This in-depth look at self-care from all angles is something that I agree with; I think it’s so important to live and not just exist. I always try to look at the bigger picture when I’m stressed out from a task at work, or I’m having a disagreement with my partner. I step back and think, does this really matter? Life will go on after this, and I’m going to be fine. Sometimes, the act of self-care can be interpreted as being selfish. I often feel guilty if I turn down a social event or say no to someone for my own good. An article on the Good Housekeeping website addresses this and explains the following:
‘First of all, it ain’t selfish. Not one little bit.
I never thought of myself as a morning person. Hitting snooze on my iPhone alarm three times each day only left me rushing off to the office feeling groggy and so not ready to talk to anyone until I could down several cups of coffee.
But starting last year, waking up earlier completely changed my A.M. routine for the better. Doing my workouts in the mornings gave me more energy — and actual motivation to get out from under the covers. Now I look forward to my pre-work HIIT class or a park run because it’s one hour I have all to myself before the emails and errands inevitably creep in.
Setting aside that time helps me feel more awake and ready to take on the day. It’s my form of self-care—and we could all use more of it, especially since we’re feeling just as anxious than ever.
Almost half of us —45% to be exact— report lying awake at night due to stress, according to a 2018 American Psychological Association survey. But that shared sense of helplessness has grown alongside another phenomenon: self-care.
“Self-care is one’s action around our physical, emotional, relational, perhaps professional, educational, and, for some people, spiritual well-being that reflects the way that we take care of ourselves on the most fundamental levels,” says Helen L. Coons, PhD, a clinical health psychologist at the specializing in women’s behavioral health and wellness at the University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry in Aurora, Colorado.
It’s also helpful to know what self-care isn’t. “Many women confuse self-care with being selfish—that somehow taking care of ourselves is self-involvement or a selfish act instead of a self-respectful act,” she adds. “When women take care of themselves in all aspects of their lives, they actually have more energy, more reserve and depth to take care of others at home, at work, and in their community.”
It’s all about making small and purposeful efforts—and not necessarily doing things alone. Self care ideas can look like blocking out time for a date with a partner, or planning healthy meals instead of reaching for sugary snacks. Setting those intentions can provide more motivation and pleasure and cut back on stress, worry, and for some people, irritability.’
The Importance of Loving Yourself
Caroline Picard’s words on Good Housekeeping are something that I’m an advocate of. I also support Marisa Peer’s outlook on self-care and the importance of loving myself. Marisa Peer is a world-renowned speaker, therapist, and best-selling author with over three decades of experience, she uses her experiences treating patients including rock stars, CEOs, elite Olympic athletes, royalty and Oscar-winning actors to inform her life-changing speeches and lectures.
In a previous blog post, ‘Self-Love – Learn to Love Yourself’, Marisa explains the importance of loving yourself and how it can transform your life:
“The interesting thing about love is that people can only love you as much as you love yourself. When you know your self-worth, everyone else will know it too. Find out how repeating statements such as ‘I am enough’, ‘I matter’, and ‘I am lovable’ can reinforce your positive empowering beliefs to literally transform your life.
Self-love is an unshakable belief in the worthiness of one’s self. With it, I truly believe you can do anything. Without it, you may always feel that you are not quite good enough, no matter what your accomplishments are or how many other people value you. Without self-love, you may be subconsciously sabotaging yourself, suffering disconnection to what matters most in life.
When you learn to love yourself, you have a lifelong romance that never fades, tires or disappoints you, love is always available to you no matter what.”
8 Self Care Ideas
In summary of what I have shared in this article, I’d like to show you the following list of eight easy ways that you can start applying self-care, today:
1. Try Breathing Exercises
Whenever I’m feeling a bit anxious, stressed out or uptight, I focus on my breathing to make me feel grounded.
- Find somewhere quiet and comfortable. Close your eyes and begin deep breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Try inhaling as deeply as you can for six seconds and then exhale for six seconds
- Do this for a few minutes or until you feel that your mood is lifting and your mind is clearing.
2. Increase Your Water Intake
I like to aim for 1.5 liters of filtered water a day. It helps my digestion, keeps my skin moisturized and stops me from overeating. I also like to add fresh herbs, like mint or rosemary to my water for added flavor. Medical News Today says that fresh mint leaves ‘has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food.’ It also states that rosemary ‘has been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.’
3. Focus On Getting A Good Night’s Sleep Every Night
The amount and quality of the sleep I get has a huge impact on how I perform the next day. I like to aim for 7 and a half hours each night. You can read more about insomnia sleep symptoms here.
We are all aware of the health benefits that exercise has on our bodies. Although I have days where I really don’t feel like going to the gym, once I go, I always enjoy it and can honestly say that I never feel worse after a workout, only better. However, if you don’t like gyms or don’t want to spend money on expensive memberships then this article on No-Gym Workout Methods To Get in Shape could be of interest. You can also read more about the benefits of regular exercise on the Mayo Clinic website.
5. Keep A Journal Or Diary
It doesn’t have to be great in length, but just writing down things that you’re grateful for or have enjoyed can really help you realize your sense of self-worth. I also have a vision board saved as my screensaver on my laptop to remind me of what I’m working towards.
6. Make Time To Read And Educate Yourself
I always feel proud when I have learned something new and I enjoy educating myself on topics that interest me. It’s great for quiz games or creating conversation at events!
7. Eat Well
I have a history of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and I find that eating a healthy diet, plus applying self-care really helps to control my symptoms. The bacteria in your gut affects the health of your brain and vice versa. As the two are so dependent on each other, it’s important to address both your diet and the thoughts in your mind. You can read more about the foods that Marisa rates and hates, here.
8. Have The Confidence To Say “No” To People
Learning to say no was a hard task for me. I always felt obligated to say yes when someone asked for my time. However, if you’re already overworked and busy juggling many different errands, saying yes can lead to anxiety and ill health. Once you learn how to politely say no, you’ll feel more empowered, and you’ll have more time for your self-care, which is the most important thing.
You Need Confidence To Love Yourself
Watch Marisa’s YouTube video on how you need self-esteem in order to lead a fulfilling life:
Having high confidence and self-esteem really does help me in the everyday quest to apply self care ideas. I have built up my self-belief as I’ve got older, but what has really helped me recently is listening to Marisa’s words and reading her book, I Am Enough.
Marisa has created the following hypnosis audio downloads for developing self-esteem and self-love:
Marisa has created the following hypnosis audio downloads for developing self-esteem and self-love:
Confidence And Self-Esteem
This motivating hypnosis audio shows you how to naturally generate high self-esteem and inner confidence that radiates out from within.
Many of us have an issue with low self-worth that goes back to thinking that we’re not lovable. This hypnosis recording helps you not just to know you’re loveable, but to feel it to such an extent that other people will sense it too.
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