by: E.B. Johnson
Self-care is a hot topic these days and one that is touted as a necessary part of creating a healthy life. It can be a confusing topic, however, and one that is often marketed to us with more of a material edge than anything else. Is self-care all about massages and fancy face creams? The answer? A little bit of yes, and a little bit of no.
Getting to the root of real self-care takes a lot of understanding and lot of self-reflection. Self-care looks different to everyone, but it’s core components are the same. It is something that should inspire emotional release or improve our lives from the inside out. When we care for ourselves, genuinely, we should walk away feeling as though we are better off than we were when we started. It’s a process and a routine that should be carefully considered and designed. It’s something that’s entirely our own when we take the time to institute it correctly.
What is self-care?
You can hardly log-in these days without being confronted with a self-care article, or advertisement for something that brands itself as self-care. From “treat yo’self” to bath bombs — we are a society obsessed with the idea of cariing for ourselves so that we can care for others. The problem, however that we often don’t know what true self-care is, or how to institute it in our lives.
Self-care, at its core, is an activity we do in order to better our mental, emotional or physical health. When we think self-care, we usually think massages, vacations or treatments at a local health and beauty spa. While these things can definitely be an important component of a good self-care routine, they aren’t the end-all, be-all to self-care.
In order to truly create a self-care routine that works, we have to understand the true nature of caring for ourselves inside and out. These routines can look different to different people, but their benefits remain the same. When we learn how to truly care for our inner self, we can unlock better moods, improved health and the drive and ability to go after the dreams that define our futures. Self-care isn’t a selfish act. It’s a necessary one that refuels us, rather than draining us.
Why self-care is important.
Self-care is real and it’s important for a number of reasons. When we take care of ourselves, we establish a better foundation with who we are and what we need to thrive. We also allow ourselves to uncover new opportunties and better engage with the world around us. If you’re looking to feel happier, more fulfilled and more self-confident — chances are, you need to engage in some self-care and you need to do it soon.
Better relationships with self
Taking the time out of our busy schedules to take care of ourselves actually helps us to develop better relationships with our authentic self, and allows us to deepen the connection and understanding we have of who we are and what we need. We are the most important people in our lives, but it’s easy to forget that in the chaos of our responsibilities. Self-care is all about checking in with ourselves and making sure we have what we need to help others and thrive.
Boosted energy and immune function
Ignoring our true needs and avoiding self-care actually leads to an erosion of our energy levels and can even lead to an erosion of our immune function. When you don’t take care of yourself and your body, you’re more likely to become unwell and more likely to experience physical and mental exhaustion or unease. Feeling better about who we are is a fundamental part of self-care.
When we take care of ourselves, we actually increase our positivity and change the way we see the world around us. Good self-care boosts our confidence and our sense of self, empowering us to open new doors and embrace new opportunities that we might otherwise have lacked the confidence to pursue.
Feeling happier or more positive about yourself has also been shown to increase overall engagement levels. When we feel good about ourselves, we feel better about the world, and this can lead to us getting more involved with the people and circumstances around us. If you’re feeling low or isolated, self-care is often the first step to getting more plugged in.
Higher motivation and productivity
Getting more engaged with yourself and the world around you can help you to boost your motivation and productivity levels in ways that are truly transformative. Having more energy will allow you to get to the important stuff and motivate you to work hard and get their quicker than you otherwise might have done. Taking care of ourselves means being able to give more of ourselves to the world around us, creating new and exciting opportunities.
The 4 rules of self-care we should all follow.
When it comes to taking better care of ourselves, it’s not all massages and bath bombs. Part of taking care of yourself also means learning how to listen to your emotions, deal with them more effectively and master the self-talk that carries you closer toward or further away from the future you’re so desperately trying to create.
1. Check into your physical health
A lot of self-care, self-help guides tout the power of taking control of your physical health — but many also call for a massive overhaul when simple steps will do. Rather than jumping all-in with grandiose new habits, we should start small with tasks we can master easily, or see results from quickly.
Simple daily routines that help boost our physical health is a great place to start. Take some time to check into your physical health and you’ll find you feel better about both yourself and your circumstances. Focus on eating, sleeping, bathing and dressing well — and stop skipping corners. All these little things are easy opportunities for self-care.
Don’t waste your money on expensive new meditation classes and regular massages. Get going with the things that can really help boost your self-esteem and your energy levels. Take care of your body so you can start taking better care of yourself. Eat healthy, quality food and get your sleep routine settled so you can operate at your peak levels come tomorrow. When you feel better, you’ll perform better and that’s ultimately what all self-care is really about.
2. Master the art of self-talk
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the term “self-care”? Probably yoga classes and spa days, right? Well, while those can be great components of personal care, they aren’t the end-all, be-all. There are also layers of internal work that are essential when it comes to taking care of our authentic selves.
More than just a single day on the calendar, self-care is an essential part of our our everyday lives. When we talk self-care we’re also talking the way we relate to ourselves every second of the day, and that comes down to self-talk or the way we see ourselves when we’re alone. Self-talk impacts our energy levels, our mood, our relationships — it’s everything. But we often don’t do enough to control it or shape it to suit our better natures.
Don’t overlook your inner critic when it comes to taking care of yourself. While a massage while feel nice for the moment, learning how to master the way we talk to ourselves is a gift that lasts a lifetime; allowing us to unlock a sea of hidden opportunities, and overcome the emotional barriers that hold us back on professional and personal levels. Get your path to a healthy self (inside and out) moving by learning how to control your self-talk.
3. Limit the distractions
Ever notice how a lot of self-care guides tout activities that are more of a waste of a time than anything else? While distractions can be good in moderations, too many distractions only further obscure the goals you’re trying to set and work toward. If you really want to learn how to take care of yourself, learn how to limit the distractions and stop investing your time — and money — in things that don’t serve the greater picture.
If the only self-care activities you engage in are ones that allow you to check-out or numb down, you aren’t really serving yourself or making strides to better the environment you exist in. Don’t ignore your stressors. Choose activities or pursuits that allow you to emotionally process what you’re going through and learn how to limit your distractions. While there’s a time and a place for everything, too much of a good thing is never really “good”.
Pursuing blank-out activities only leads to a backlog of unprocessed feelings and emotion that will leave you feeling more drained and exhausted than you did before. If you’re using self-care to avoid stress or burnout, look for things you can engage in that allow you to improve yourself, and thereby your circumstances. A massage here and there is great, but it won’t give you the skills you need to change what’s going wrong in your life. Really care for yourself by limiting the distractions.
4. Start emotionally processing
Emotional processing is hard. Our emotions are a innate part of who we are, but they’re often distracting or damaging in the way they cause us to perceive our environment, ourselves and our relationships. When something stressful happens, our emotions can often force us to shut down or otherwise react in ways which don’t serve our true purpose. As uncomfortable as it may be, emotional processing is the only way to tackle this stress in our life, and it’s an essential part of self-care too.
We can build pastimes and activities into our self-care routines that allow us to emotionally process the stress and disappointment in our lives. By looking for activities that help us process our life experiences, we can actually take some of the weight off our own shoulders, and spread it out through enjoyable, confidence-building experiences. Whether we like it or not, real self-care involves thinking our way through our stressors, so we can come out on the other side with a sense of both happiness and relief.
If you’re facing a major deadline, don’t avoid it by going for activities that allow you to shut-off and ignore the deadline. Instead, try to think of something that will allow you to “pull the bandaid off” and deal with that stressor head-on — so you can remove it entirely from your life. Then, you can get to the veg-out activities you really want to pursue like concerts, spa days and afternoons bath-bombing. Whatever you do, ask yourself at the end, “Do I have a better sense of relief, release or otherwise perspective after engaging in this activity?” If the answer is no, you might want to rethink your routine.
Putting it all together…
Self-care is an integral part of a happy life and the means by which we keep our batteries charged and our skills honed. Happiness and fulfillment are gifts that we give ourselves, and we do that often through taking some time to get one-on-one with our authentic core, feeding it the things it needs to make us better. When our lives start falling apart, or we find ourselves stuck in a rut, self-care is often the means by which we free ourselves, when we have the know-how and understanding to do so.
If you’re looking to create a self-care routine that is truly beneficial to who you are and what you want, start by checking into your physical health and doing the things that can make you feel better today. Feed your body healthy foods and get your sleep routine under control. Then, you will be better equipped to master your self-talk and limit the distractions that are allowing you to stay stuck, scared and looking for a way to numb the pain and the stress. True self-care is about allowing ourselves to emotionally process the things in our lives that are pushing us to the limit. Don’t use your self-care to check out. Use it to check in, and empower yourself to create the opportunities you need to thrive.