What Exactly is Self Care? (and how to practice it!)
Bubble baths, face masks, and that “treat yourself” mentality are probably what comes to mind when you think of self-care, am I right? Well, you're not wrong!
However, self-care and its practices go beyond those moments of lying in a bath tub covered in fizzy remnants of your favorite bath bomb with cucumber slices over your eyes. In fact, it's much more than that.
So What Is Self-Care And Why Is It Important?
Self-care encompasses small habitual acts that promote the overall well-being of yourself as a whole.....emotionally, physically and mentally.
Basically, it's showing inflicting an act-of-kindness onto yourself. We often get so wrapped up in caring for the needs of those around us that we neglect ourselves.
Being able to love and care for your mind, body, and soul is one of the most generous things you could do, because being able to do little things for ourselves is going to improve everything from our social interactions to our productivity.
Not only that, but self-care is not a one time thing. Consistency is key!
Just like we all have our typical morning routine of getting out of bed, brushing our teeth, and eating our breakfast, incorporating a sustainable self-care routine and practicing it often, is necessary in maintaining a well-balanced & positive life - especially when life gets a little crazy!
The practice of self-care allows us to refresh our mind, body, and soul when we need it the most.
THE BENEFITS OF SELF-CARE:
- Increases Productivity
- Improves Long-Term Health
- Enhances Self-Esteem
- Encourages Self-Awareness
- Improves Social Interactions
20 Ways to Practice Self-Care
So what does a self-care routine look like, you ask? Well, all routines can be dependent on our lifestyle, but the basis for these routines can all be built from these helpful tips on how to incorporate realistic self-care habits into our daily living.
Self-Care Ideas for the Mind
Let’s be honest here! Your mind is the hub for how we feel about ourselves both physically and well, mentally! Taking care of our mind first often can have a domino effect on the rest of our bodies. Positive thoughts = positive mind = positive body! So here is where we start!
- Purge your mind. It’s like Spring cleaning for your mind! Get rid of anything in your life that does not serve you well or aid in your happiness. Following someone on social media that makes you feel negative about yourself? Click that unfollow button! This goes for people that you spend your time with. Do not hold onto relationships with people who do not make you feel 100% about you!
- Take a “time-out” for yourself. As a society, we have become so expectant of ourselves to always be on the go! While having a busy and fulfilling lifestyle is great, slowing down and taking even 10 minutes of time completely to yourself is just as important, if not more. Find a favorite, quiet spot to yourself, un-plug from your phone and all digital distractions, and just be still. Take that time to clear your mind and focus on your breathing and your body.
- Scratch something off on your to-do list. Been meaning to clean out that basement closet for months? Although the task may seem daunting to tackle, I guarantee you will feel so much better and get a tinge of satisfaction from scratching it off the list!
- Get lost in a good book. Reading a book can be a great outlet for escaping reality, even for a chapter or two. Find your favorite page-turner genre that makes you feel good and keeps your mind focused on just that for the time.
- Meet with a counselor or life coach. You should never feel shame for seeking out a professional. Schedule time to talk with someone once a week about what you have going on in your life -- it could even be a family member or friend. You’d be amazed at how wonderful you’ll feel afterward.
- Purge a cluttered space -- Whether you make a pile of clothes to donate or clean-out the files on your computer desktop, purge a space that feels cluttered and unmanageable to you. Doing so will relieve stress and bring you peace once the project is done.
- Have a glass of wine. I doubt many people would argue with me on this one, but by pouring yourself a smooth glass of wine and cuddling up on a cozy couch will ease your mind in no-time.
Self-Care Ideas for the Body
Trying to live a positive and healthy lifestyle without taking care of your body is like trying to bike uphill with a flat tire. You’re probably not going to get there quickly, if ever! Here are some tips for taking care of your temple.
Get up and MOVE! Moving our bodies, whether it be through lifting weights, running or just stretching, releases endorphins! Endorphins are the "happy drug" our brain releases when we do these activities. Put on some of your favorite tunes and dance around your room or take a good few minutes to stretch out your muscles.
- Water, water, and more water. Be sure your body is well hydrated! Drinking lots of water throughout the day is essential & aids in so many health benefits. Want clear skin? Drink water! Want to lose/maintain your weight? Drink water! Mad at your fiancé? Drown him in water! Totally kidding! Don’t do that! You get my point though... drink all the water you can!
- Catch the giggles. Laughing is one of the best medicines in life! Take time everyday to get a good laugh out of something. Whether it’s chatting with a friend, reading a funny book, or listening to one of your favorite comedians. Laughter is good for the soul.
- Make a healthy food choice. Once a day, try to make a small change that will mentally and physically make you feel better. For instance, go for the apple over the brownie. Or drink a glass of water rather than the soda. Trust me, you'll feel better.
- Get some rest. As we sleep, our bodies are quite literally recharging themselves for the day ahead. Cell turnover, muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones are just a few of the fascinating functions our body cranks out while we sleep. If our sleep is cut short, these phases may be left incomplete, leading to difficulty in concentrating, a poor mood, and poor appetite.
- Implement a good skincare routine. In case you didn’t know, your skin is the largest organ on your body! With that, taking extra care and time in looking after it, is key! Find a good, quality skincare routine that is realistic and sustainable for you that you look forward to doing each morning and evening.
- Have a long stretch session. Set a timer for 20 minutes and try to stretch for that entire duration. Hold each position for 30 seconds and focus on your breathing and the stretch in your muscles. Your body will thank you.
Self-Care Ideas for the SoulI like to think of our soul as the ultimate animating principle by which we think and feel. If your inner being isn’t happy and taken care of properly, it’s hard to expect us to be able to emulate otherwise.
- Be your own BFF. Focus on treating yourself like you would treat a good friend. Don’t practice negative self talk & instead compliment yourself on the daily. We often are our own worst critics & yet have the ability to also make ourselves feel the most empowered. Choose the latter.
- Practice small acts of kindness. Not only are small acts of kindness great for the people around you, but they also make us feel good and worthy about ourselves. These can be anything from picking up some trash around your neighborhood to volunteering at your local animal hospital. No matter what these acts may be, even the smallest ones can end up having the largest impact on both you and those around you.
- Write it down. Journaling can be on of the most therapeutic acts for the soul. We all have times where we burden ourselves with feelings and thoughts that often may not even our own to carry. Write these feelings down and as soon as your down, rip them up and throw them away. The feeling of releasing those feelings on paper, instead of ranting them to a friend or on social media (yikes!), ridding them on paper saves us from exposing more negativity into the world.
- Go on a date...with yourself. Isn't it time you treated yourself? Take yourself out for ice cream, to a movie, or on a trip to one of your favorite places.
- Take time off and have a stay-cation. Even if you can take one random day off, with no plans other than to relax and unwind, it will make all the difference! Spend the day doing things you LOVE and try to keep your technology intake to a minimum.
- Spend time along in nature. They say that being alone outdoors is one of the best paths for self-discovery. So find a quiet spot and just soak up the sounds, the smells, and your thoughts. There is something so fulfilling and healing about being out in nature.
It is always nice to be reminded that taking time out for yourself – especially when it means slowing down and relaxing – is not being lazy or selfish. Rather, it helps to recenter, refresh and refocus so the next thing on your to do list is not just going through the motions.
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