Beginner’s Guide to Self-Care

Your inbox is filling up with work emails that need to be addressed. You have a mountain of laundry at home that needs washing. The kids need art supplies for their last-minute assignment.

The demands just keep coming and your own wants and needs get pushed to the back burner. There are many tasks that are expected of you and sometimes it causes you to overlook our own needs. That’s where self-care comes in. It’s important to give yourself a little “me” time on a regular basis by practicing self-care. Read on to learn how to begin practicing self-care.

What is self-care?

Self-care is when you devote a specific amount of time to check in with yourself and make sure everything is going OK. It’s easy to glaze over your own needs when others need your help, but taking time to focus on yourself is an important skill. When you choose to practice self-care, you are intentionally carving out time to give yourself a little tender, loving care. Sounds like a no-brainer, but implementing self-care is not so easy.

When we don’t invest in ourselves, we can become moody, tired and feel overworked. A lack of self-care often leads to anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness and overall poor quality of life. Self-care means paying attention not just to your mental health, but your emotional and physical health as well. When you neglect your own needs, everyone around you suffers. If your coworkers are depending on you to contribute to a group project or your kids are expecting you to volunteer at their school event, it is important that you feel like yourself — and give yourself the space to do so. It’s crucial that you take the time to relax, refresh your focus and do something that makes you happy to improve your well-being. Remember that self-care is not selfish.

You should notice improvements to your mood and a reduction in your anxiety when you practice self-care. The relationship with yourself is the most important one. How you feel about yourself on the inside is how you carry yourself on the outside. While self-care does take time and work, the payoff of investing in yourself is always worth it.

How to Practice Self-Care

Self-care is different for everyone, but there is one common theme: Do something that makes you feel good. This could be meditation to clear your mind, a physical activity such as going on a run or practicing yoga or putting your phone away for the day so that you can unplug for some tech-free time. Writing is also a powerful tool for self-care. Expressing your thoughts on paper makes you more mindful of what’s got you feeling stressed out. The same can also be said for talking out your feelings with a therapist or trusted loved one. Sometimes self-care is as simple as speaking your truth. To successfully practice self-care, the first thing you should do is clear your calendar. Allot a specific time for yourself so that nothing else can get in the way of your self-care time. This also lets others know that you are unavailable during this time. This could be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This part is up to you and will be different for everyone.

When you begin to practice self-care, it is important to know your worth. Just as you would invest in any relationship, the one you have with yourself is of the utmost importance. Make a list of things you love about yourself, the things that make you unique and your individual contributions as a friend, parent, coworker and other various titles you might have. Thinking about your self-worth gives you the confidence boost you deserve.

Additionally, cut out the day-to-day noise that comes with a packed life and keep the activities to a minimum. Take a walk. Get in touch with nature. Indulge in something sweet. Do not feel obligated to say yes to every event that crops up on your schedule. You may also choose to develop a personal mission statement that you can fall back on when you are having a bad day and unable to practice good self-care. This mission statement might be just what you need to keep pushing forward.

How to Create a Space for Self-Care

Having a designated space to practice self-care certainly is not necessary, but it helps you be more diligent about making time for yourself. A spare bedroom can be a great space to practice self-care. Since it is a space just for you, it can be filled with all of your favorite art, pillows, blankets, flowers and other items that help you decompress, relax and focus on you. Consider painting the room a cool color like blue, green or purple. All three of these colors are associated with relaxation and can soothe a busy mind. The addition of a scented candle or incense also helps create a calming space to practice self-care. A private room where you can shut the door is most ideal, but everyone practices self-care differently.

Extra space isn’t always an option for everyone, though. Some people may not have enough room in their homes to create a specific space for self-care and others simply might not want to. Individuals can practice self-care anywhere they feel at ease. For example, some choose to practice self-care on a blanket under the shady trees at their local park (make sure to secure a quiet spot). While others may enjoy sipping on their favorite brew while journaling at a local coffee shop. Bringing headphones helps them enjoy relaxing music while they practice self-care. Creating a space for self-care could be as simple as sticking a beach umbrella in the sand and enjoying a little rest and relaxation.

Wherever you practice self-care, make it a space where you can focus on yourself and not be distracted by what else is going on around you.

Resources for Self-Care

It’s important to have a number of friends and family members who lift you up and encourage you to practice self-care. Find your tribe and engage them in your self-care practices. Form your own group to uplift one another when the going gets tough. Also, following positive and inspiring social media accounts helps you stay the course and focus when it comes to putting yourself first. You will find a multitude of accounts that are focused specifically on self-help and share meaningful sayings and phrases.

There are also many online bloggers who are documenting their self-care journey on social media sites, as well as on their own personal sites. It’s helpful to find someone who is going through a similar life experience as you, even if they are online. Engaging with them in comments and via email can help you feel more connected and inspired to be your best self.

Online communities are not the only self-care resources out there. You may also seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional who can help you develop a plan of action that keeps the focus on you. There are also hundreds of self-care books out there that can be ordered online or found on the shelves of a nearby library that are full of topical information for your self-care journey. With so many resources at your fingertips, your journey to self-care is going to be awe-inspiring.

Related Article: Why Mental Health Maintenance is Important

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