Self-care, it seems, has become a trend, and when something becomes trendy or seems to show up everywhere, it’s easy to write it off. Maybe you think self-care is synonymous with pampering yourself or indulging. Something that people do when they have plenty of time and money.
It’s true that self-care can involve pampering yourself, but it’s so much bigger and more meaningful. Self-care is the practice of taking care of your own physical and emotional needs, with the goal of remaining healthy and resilient. When we ignore our needs, we become sick, unhappy, and overwhelmed.
Many of us don’t know how to practice self-care. We’ve been taught what we’re ‘supposed’ to feel and think and to ignore the feelings we think we ‘shouldn’t’ feel. Paying attention to our inner states and trusting them is very important.
Do you ever feel anxious about a situation that should feel normal? You become ashamed that you are experiencing anxiety when you shouldn’t be and try to pretend those intrusive thoughts don’t exist. Or maybe you feel really upset over something seemingly insignificant and push down those feelings of sadness and try to be happy because you think that’s what you should be feeling instead. Maybe your body needs nine hours of sleep but your coworkers only need six so that’s what you try to do too. When we do these things, we are neglecting ourselves.
Rethink self-care: Taking care of ourselves is a basic human need, not a weakness. You are not being selfish by taking care of yourself. We have more to give when we aren’t exhausted and overwhelmed. Remember, self-care is a daily practice.
Learn to pay attention to your needs: We’re often taught to dismiss or judge our needs when we should be identifying, acknowledging and respecting them. Try setting an hourly timer to check in on how you are feeling physically and emotionally.
Take small steps: If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re tired, take a break. If you’re upset, talk to someone you trust. If you’re struggling with anxiety or other mental health issues, see a therapist.
Self-care means paying attention to yourself, understanding how you work, and taking action to serve your personal needs. You are not meant to live only to please others or to hide your true self and behave only how you think you’re supposed to. Self-care is vital for everyone and it’s something we can all learn to do.
Learn more about the importance of self-care from The Canadian Mental Health Association.
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