What is Self-care?
Self-care refers to activities and practices that individuals do to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional health. Self-care is the act of taking intentional steps to maintain physical, mental, and emotional health. It can include activities like exercise, good nutrition, mindfulness and stress management, sleep, and social support. Self-care is the deliberate action taken to maintain one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish: Advice for Women
If that’s the case, it’s time to redefine what this term truly means, especially to women.
“We often encounter the concept of self-care in advertising oriented at women, typically as a sales pitch for something we don’t need,” says Sandra Darling, DO, MPH, a wellness and preventative medicine specialist.
Certain expressions like ‘I can’t kill myself’ or ‘life is too short’ seems to mean self-care equals pampering and spending money. It could mean that sometimes but don’t be confused. A lot of things that can do your health a lot of good don’t involve you breaking the bank trust me. Self-care is essential for your physical and emotional well-being.
10 Tips for Self-Care You Should Adopt
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
- Practice mindfulness
- Connect with loved ones
- Take breaks and set boundaries
- Indulge in hobbies and interests
- Seek professional support when needed (seek professional help when things go out of your control)
- Prioritize self-reflection and self-awareness
- Engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.
Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Self-Care
“Self-care is just another name for taking care of yourself, which is vital for your health and well-being,” says Dr. Darling. “More specifically, self-care means identifying and meeting your needs, something most women struggle with.”
In our society, women often feel obligated to be caretakers. They tend to put others first-children, spouses, parents, friends, and even pets. So it may feel awkward (and even selfish) for a woman to suddenly shift the balance from caring about everyone to caring for herself.
Yet, experts say it’s time for women to view self-care differently and enter into this uncharted territory, however uncomfortable it might feel at first. Or regardless of what others think.
“If you don’t properly care for yourself, your body will let you know in negative ways, don’t push it to that point”. “Self-care simply means you’re taking time to care for yourself.”
The Cost of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on your health. It weakens your immune system and inflames your body, making you more susceptible to colds, weight gain, sleep issues, stomach ulcers, depression, diabetes, and heart disease.
The physiological changes resulting from prolonged stress are compounded by the poor choices you make at the end of your rope.
What exactly does this mean?
Reacting to stress with numbing activities;
- like zoning out in front of an electronic screen (TV or your electronic devices) or
- bingeing on junk food and alcohol
It just contributes to obesity and disease, poor sleep, and ultimately, an unhappy existence. Because you start having serious esteem issues when the weight starts piling in.
“I advocate for self-care to prevent patients from getting to this point,” says Dr. Darling. “Rather than succumbing to the “rosé all day” approach to managing life’s stressors, treat yourself with love, respect, and kindness — but also discipline.”
Where to Begin With Self-Care?
Take time each day to pause. Find an activity that promotes inner peace and calm. This will allow you to unwind from stress and get in touch with your needs.
Stress-relieving practices quiet the mind, balance hormones, including cortisol (the stress hormone), lower blood pressure and improve brain health. These ideas may seem simple but they provide a lot of help and help you de-stress.
Here are a few simple self-care ideas for beginners:
- Spend time in nature, like gardening or walking barefoot in the grass or sand, a practice called grounding.
- If you’re especially tired, make an effort to go to bed early.
- Spend 10 to 15 minutes daily on a few simple yoga poses or stretches.
- Try an Epsom salts bath.
- Use a guided meditation app.
- Read a book in your favorite chair before bed.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood without a goal.
- Do a craft.
- Take a nap.
- Sit on your front porch or deck and sit there. No phone.
Often times you will have an idea of what type of self-care works best for you. Maybe it’s going for a run, maybe it’s running around the backyard with your kids or maybe it’s cooking up a delicious dinner. Or going for a walk under night skies, whatever yours is, find it, make out time for it and prioritize your happiness and joy.