Why You Should Care About Self Care

meditation self care

Why You Should Care About Self-Care

Self-care seems to be one of those buzz-words that everyone is tired of hearing about. I can almost feel people mentally rolling their eyes when I bring up self care. It seems so obvious, right? We need to take care of ourselves. Unfortunately it is very easy to get into the habit of neglecting some aspect of our life that could benefit from some of our energy. When I taught group therapy and I asked people to tell me what they think of when they hear “self care” the answers I would get would be things like:


Getting my hair done                        Getting a massage               Buying myself __________

Going to get a manicure/pedicure             Going on vacation                    Shopping

All of those could be examples of self-care but true self care that we can practice on a daily basis does not cost anything. Shopping, going on vacation, getting a massage or going to a salon are not something most of us can afford to do on a regular basis. Just because we don’t have the budget to get a massage every month it does not mean we cannot practice self-care!

The biggest news in the world right now is COVID-19. Everyone has fears and concerns so it becomes even more important to practice self-care when we are worried and feeling stressed.

 

You cant pour from an empty cup

What Is Self-Care?

You might be asking, well if it’s not just vacations or spa days, what is self-care then? Self-care is taking an active role in our own good health and mental well being. This is important on a daily basis but especially during times of physical illness or stress.

Stress is often called “the silent killer” because it contributes to many underlying health conditions that can go unnoticed. Stress is often what leads us to overeat, under exercise, zone out as a way of relaxing, and mentally check out of our lives in a way that can become dangerous if done for more than just a day or two. It can lead to heart disease, obesity, depression, anxiety, GI problems, and many other chronic health concerns. One of the best ways to combat stress is to practice self-care.

 

 

I was busy;
but not in a way most people understand.

I was busy taking deeper breaths.
I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.
I was busy calming a racing heart.
I was busy telling myself I am okay.

Sometimes, this is my busy –
and I will not apologize for it.”
Brittin Oakman 

 

 

self care isnt selfish

Self-Care Is Self Love

Daily self-care involves taking care of our physical and mental needs in a loving way. It means putting ourselves first in a way that many people may find difficult at first. Some people, often women, feel that taking care of themselves is selfish. This could not be further from the truth! We can’t take care of others if we are not first healthy ourselves.

Daily Self-Care Includes Things Like:

 

Eating and choosing healthy foods.

Some people will go all day without eating which puts physical stress on the body. Others will drive through a fast food restaurant and get a 1,000+ calorie meal that they don’t really enjoy just because it is “convenient” at the time. You might pack a lunch for your children but not for yourself. If your office break room is filled with donuts and cookies, you might relieve your stress by snacking on sweets throughout the day. Overeating can be another response to stress that leads to us feeling bad both physically and mentally.

Self-care involving food means making time to eat and preparing healthy meals for ourselves. Some people prefer to meal prep for the week while others might prefer buying healthy frozen meals that fit better with their schedule. Whatever works best for you, eating a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low in sugar is a form of self-care.

 

Moving Your Body

Experts agree that our modern lives are not good for our bodies. Sitting for 8+ hours a day at work, plus commute, plus Netflix time at the end of the day because we are exhausted is leading to many of our health problems. Even people who regularly exercise are likely more sedentary than is ideal!

Not everyone likes exercise. Maybe you love going to the gym five times a week or going out for a run every morning, if so – that’s great! If you don’t like exercise or just the idea of exercise seems intimidating replace it with the idea of moving. Do you love to dance to music in your living room? Do it! Does your dog enjoy walks? Take him out for a long walk a couple times a week. If you have an Apple watch or Fitbit you can set it to remind you to stand up and walk around once every hour. Small changes can make a big difference. In fact if you are depressed, exercise may be more effective than medication.

 

Saying “No”

If you have trouble saying “no” then you are not alone! Many people have difficulty declining when someone asks for our time or energy. The problem is that when you say “yes” to everything you are actually saying “no” to yourself.  Volunteering to help with church activities; making items for bake sales; taking on a responsibility you really don’t have time for at the PTA or neighborhood homeowner’s association; it can add up fast and if you can’t say “no” to the next request you may end up with no time for yourself.

Saying “no” to the activities you truly do not want to do, but feel obligated to, is self-care in itself. It also gives you precious time to focus on an activity you truly enjoy. If you hate baking maybe the bake sale should be a “no.” If you genuinely love helping at church that is a much better task to agree to. Figure out how much time you have and say yes only to thinks you truly want to do. Sound impossible? Tiny Buddha has some great tips on how to stop saying yes.

 

Doing At Least One Thing You Enjoy Every Day

Does this sound unrealistic? Then you need to make a change. Time is our greatest resource and once it is gone we never get it back. If all of your time is spent working, running errands, cleaning up, taking care of family/kids, and sleeping, where is the room for joy? We are made for more than just completing all the tasks on our to-do list.

It might be watching a television program you enjoy, talking to a friend, listening to your favorite music, but if you can’t find just 30 minutes a day to do something for yourself that is a sign that you’re not taking care of yourself.

These are just a few ways that you can focus on to begin to make self-care a bigger priority in your life.

“Self-care has become a new priority – the revelation that it’s perfectly permissible to listen to your body and do what it needs.”
Frances Ryan

You Deserve The Energy You Give Others

It may be counter-intuitive that a time of so much uncertainty is the most important time to practice better self-care. However, when you are out of your routine – working from home, the kids not in school, self-quarantined, it is actually the perfect time to disrupt the status quo by doing something different. The time and energy that you give others is important, but just as important is giving that same time and energy to yourself. We are trying to prevent getting sick and taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do to prevent illness.

5 minute self-care

Take some time for self-care today, I promise you, you will not regret it!

 

Stacey Aldridge LCSW Canton MS Therapist

Stacey Aldridge, LCSW

Stacey is a therapist in private practice in the Jackson MS area. If you would like to make an appointment with Stacey at Grace Christian Counseling in Canton, MS or Vicksburg, MS please call (769) 224-4234 or contact her. Video sessions are available for those who are avoiding public places or self-quarantined!

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