It’s a term we’re all familiar with, something we hear about all the time, but what does it mean and why is it important?
When we think of self-care we may conjure up images of luxurious bath oils and fancy yoga pants even some wine and a box of chocolates. Self-care is about so much more and is not only for people with lots of spare time and money.
Self-care, at its most basic level, means looking after yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. It includes such activities as eating well, keeping clean and sleeping.
At the same time, it’s about so much more – self-care is about being the best you can be, and that involves different actions for different people.
Self-care can include:
Self-care doesn’t have to involve a huge time commitment and it doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money. The important thing is to make a commitment to yourself to put yourself first, even if it’s just for a while. Take time for you – timetable in ‘me time’ every day if possible.
There are a number of benefits to taking care of yourself. Most of these, you may not be surprised to discover, are linked. Committing to taking self-care should improve your wellbeing on many levels.
Looking after your body – be that through exercising more or getting enough sleep, brushing your teeth or eating well – is a very important part of self-care.
Making time for relaxing activities, such as taking a warm bath, listening to music, practising meditation, all help you check in with your feelings. Any activity that makes you feel more relaxed can help you to reduce stress and anxiety and help lift your mood. Time to relax also gives you time to consider your triggers, thinking patterns and emotions.
Connecting with others can look different for different people, but whichever type of connection works for you, will be helpful. The happier you are the more you can give to a relationship. As a parent or carer it is often easier to put others’ needs first, but by giving yourself some time for self-care you will be able to help the others with more energy.
Making changes to put yourself first can help to manage mental health issues and may even prevent them from increasing.
Self-care is important but it is not a substitute for professional help and you shouldn’t feel that you need to tackle your problems alone. If your mental health or relationship is suffering, you should always talk to someone.