What is self-care and should we feel like we are being selfish if we include it in our lives?
Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is taking care of yourself by engaging in activities that improve your mental, physical, and emotional health. When you engage in activities that promote self-care you strengthen your relationship with yourself, with others around you, like your family and friends, and feel more positive, less stressed and have more energy.
So, what are some strategies for self-care that we can include in our lives to achieve these benefits?
We all know the many benefits that can be attained from being physically active. Regular exercise promotes strong bones and muscles, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, and has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety, depression, and brain fog. Regular exercise makes you feel good about yourself on a physical and mental level.
Find an exercise you love and mix it up. No matter what you do or how much you love it, if we don’t have variety, these activities will soon become a chore and boring and then you will lose interest and stop. Try doing some seasonal exercise – swimming in the summer and hot yoga in the winter. Maybe you find exercising on your own boring and you lack motivation. Why not find a friend or join a group to exercise with? Pilates, yoga, Taiichi and walking groups are just some of the fun group options out there. Maybe start a dance class. Not only will you be getting much needed exercise, but you will also reap the benefits of music and how it can alter your mood. Create your own playlist and dance around the house or start your day with your favourite tracks to uplift your mood or ground you in a stressful situation.
Declutter your living and working space of physical objects and you also declutter your mind. Clutter can encourage feelings of overwhelm and being out of control. Have designated spaces for work, play, exercise, and downtime. If you have limited space and these activities need to overlap in the same space, create a new mood each time you engage in a new activity. Candles and a diffuser and soft music for your yoga practice, bright lights and upbeat tunes for your workspace and computers, phones and other distractions removed from your space when you want some downtime to unwind and relax.
LIMIT YOUR SOCIALS
That’s right. Limit your social media time and access, and filter what you are looking at. Consider taking regular breaks from screen time and replacing it with outdoor time, reading a good old-fashioned book, or playing board games. Maybe take up a new hobby?
Yes, creating a ritual can be a very effective tool for self-care. The Japanese culture is full of rituals. Each activity is undertaken with a certain level of care and mindfulness. Look at a simple cup of tea. Now think of creating a ‘tea ceremony’ of your own. Instead of a tea bag, use a tea pot, and let the tea steep for a certain amount of time, use the good cups and set everything up on a nice tray and perhaps have that tea outside on the deck. Don’t just have a bath, fill the room with candles and soft light and peaceful music. Create a snack tray of maybe some cheese and crackers or a nice quince paste and fruit and nuts. Soak away your troubles and feed your body while you feed your soul and nourish your poor tired muscles.
Some other things you can include in your self-care routine are self-massage, plenty of sleep, staying well hydrated, and finding the right balance for you between work, love, life, and your commitments to others. There is no right or wrong with self-care. Find what works for you and in the meantime, while you are looking for that balance, have fun trying all the options that appeal to you on your self-care journey.
Samantha Ashley – Bowen Therapist, Trainer & Assessor