Modern life can be extremely busy, and if we normalise spending our time committing to the needs of others including family members, friends and colleagues, we can experience guilt if we decide to do something for ourselves.
But the concept of self-care is an important one to come to grips with and ensure that we allow time for. We’ll benefit ourselves by feeling physically and emotionally better, meaning that we have more time and energy for all the other tasks and people in our lives.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the “practice of consciously doing things that preserve or improve our mental or physical health”. It means choosing to do something that boosts your spirits, relaxes you or makes you feel good. It doesn’t need to be particularly lengthy or cost a lot of money, it just needs to be something that you enjoy.
What Are the Benefits of Self-Care?
Life can be extremely busy, especially if you’re juggling parenthood with a career, running a home and trying to find time to be you, exercise, eat well and look after yourself. All of these demands can ultimately mean that we face burnout, or some of the things that can lead to burnout, such as a low mood, feeling overwhelmed or anxious and struggling with productivity.
Taking the time to practice self-care helps our mental health by helping to relieve stress and anxiety and can help to improve a low mood. It also allows us to decompress from the stressors of life, allowing us to let off steam before we simmer over and become unproductive.
Doing things that we enjoy will also help us be more compassionate human beings allowing us the headspace to converse with others with time and patience. Especially those in our care as any resentment we might feel can be dissipated by being kinder to ourselves and more dedicated to spending time on ourselves.
Relieving stress with self-care also helps our physical health, as chronic stress can lead to headaches, heartburn and stomach problems, as well as more serious conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Stress also makes us reach for our coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking alcohol and eating high fat, high salt, high sugar foods which can all be damaging to our health.
How Can I Practice Self-Care?
We all have our own version of self-care. To you, it might be taking the time to have a long bubble bath with a good book and some scented candles. Or it might be dividing up your week carefully so that you have a set time each day to exercise or practice mindfulness.
For others, self-care can be more adrenaline-fuelled, and involve thrill seeking sports or activities. Self-care can also involve others, if spending quality time with loved ones or friends brings you joy and happiness. Meeting a friend for dinner or a walk in the park can have a tremendous impact on your mood.
You might want to indulge in a pamper session, by getting a haircut or a manicure, or treating yourself to a massage or spa day. Or, you might simply need an early night with a cup of chamomile tea ready for a restorative nights’ sleep.
Whatever self-care looks like to you, it’s important that you make putting yourself first a priority. Self-care certainly isn’t selfish – it’s allowing yourself to become the best version of you, for the benefit of yourself as well as all the other people in your life that rely on you or choose to spend time with you.