The term self-care has become a recent trend. While the term ‘self-care’ isn’t a new thing, the way it can be practised has evolved. But what is it, what’s in it for me and how can I practice it?
Here, we explain what self-care means and how we can introduce it into our daily lives to better our physical and mental well-being…
What is self-care?
Self-care is all about making small and purposeful efforts to feel better in ourselves.
Dr Helen L. Coons, a clinical health psychologist at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine, says self-care is “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.”
It is also important to know what self-care isn’t.
It isn’t about being selfish.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself.
How do I practise self-care?
Here are 6 tips for getting started with self-care:
1) Get good quality sleep
Getting enough good quality sleep is top of the list for Dr Tchiki Davis at Psychology Today. She outlines some simple steps you can take to achieve this, including removing TVs, laptops and other devices from the bedroom and having black-out curtains to make sure you sleep past sunrise.
2) Look after your gut
Looking after the health of your gut through diet is also important. As Dr Davis says, “The types of foods you eat crucially impact the bacteria that live in your stomach, resulting in a cascade of either positive or negative outcomes.”
3) Exercise daily
Daily exercise is another part of a self-care routine, but that doesn’t mean you have to rush to the gym; a daily walk is just as good.
4) Learn to say ‘no’
Learning to say ‘no’ to others. Many of us feel obligated to say ‘yes’ when someone asks for our time or energy. It’s a tricky one, but once you’ve learnt the art you’re likely to feel empowered and you’ll have more time for your self-care practice.
5) Travel to refresh your life
Travelling is also a form of self-care. Dr Davis recommends taking self-care trips even if you’re not particularly stressed. As she says, “getting away for a weekend every now and then can help you disconnect, relax, and be rejuvenated.”
Quite correctly, she points out that this doesn’t have to be expensive, as weekend staycations are just as good as visiting another country. Having said that, a city break in Europe can benefit you with the sense that whatever is happening at home is somehow left behind.
6) Organise your self-care schedule
Above all, organise your self-care time and schedule it into your daily life.
It’s all too easy to say “I don’t have time for that.” Put your self-care times in your diary, and look for the small ways you can incorporate it into your life. You could start with waking 15 minutes earlier so that you have time to enjoy a cup of tea, and a few moments of meditation or self-reflection before the day begins.
In the end, self-care is the gift you give yourself. It’s a collection of small actions that reduce stress and anything else that hinders the enjoyment of daily life.
Expect to see a lot more about it for the rest of 2019, because this is the year of the self-care movement.