Self-Care Doesn’t Mean You’re Selfish!
Who really has time every single day to ask themselves what they need?
Not many of us, I imagine. There are bills to pay. Mouths to feed. Work to go to.
It seems so indulgent to actually think about yourself before anyone else.
But in reality, asking ourselves what we need doesn’t mean we are being selfish or narcissistic.
It’s taking responsibility for our own self-care. Do I need an extra hour of sleep or a nap later?
Do I want to go for a hike or jog after work? Should I try to eat healthy today because I’m feeling lethargic?
It’s those types of questions that can bring about a daily self-care routine.
We wouldn’t think twice about caring for our loved ones and putting their needs ahead of our own, but we continue to shirk our duty to ourselves.
I know I do!
The world is a stressful place, and our daily lives are full of worries about money, work, health, relationships, sex, appearance, time, and a million other things.
It’s no joke that at least 35 percent of Americans are affected by severe stress – a major public health issue.
If we are truly caring for ourselves, we are choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors.
Those self-care measures are actually preventative medicine, which is typically the type of care that includes screenings, check-ups and counseling used to prevent or detect illness, disease or other health problems.
There’s also the type of preventative care that involves healthy lifestyle choices for overall well-being, including mental health.
Knowing how to self-soothe in a positive manner is a foreign concept to some people.
They instead go for the low hanging fruit of instant gratification. So, what to do? Me first.
Clear Some Mental Space
Stress can be reduced by cultivating a state of consciousness that focuses a person’s attention and awareness on the present and developing a nonjudgmental awareness of the moment.
Being able to experience your thoughts, feelings and actions from moment to moment is the quintessential definition of mindfulness.
To do this, it might be worth giving meditation a shot.
It’s like brushing your teeth, except for the mind.
Scrub those annoying and pointless thoughts from your mind by being aware in the present moment and focusing instead on something like the breath.
You might be surprised at how you feel after sitting quietly.
If meditating and breathing techniques aren’t your thing, there are all sorts of online mindfulness programs out there.
It might be worth looking into as a way to help de-clutter the mind.
The outcome could be that you learn new skills, receive guidance and make better decisions.
Calm the Mind
When the you-know-what hits the fan, or even less dramatic states of mind (such as boredom), how do you calm yourself?
Nurturing ourselves in a loving and respectful way is the mature thing to do. As described in
As described in Psychology Today, it might be tempting to substitute ‘dessert for dinner’. We want to eat a big piece of cake with ice cream because it will make us feel better in the moment.
But when we are self-nurturing, we first prepare a loving meal, then allow ourselves a dessert that’s perhaps slightly healthier, such as cherries and yogurt, the article states. Easier said than done, I know. And sometimes we just want that big piece of chocolate cake.
Numbing out to whatever pain we are feeling is just a quick fix, however. It’s self-indulgent, not self-nurturing.
All the fun stuff that makes us happy like massages, pedicures and shopping are temporary stress relievers. Everything in moderation, right?
Fixing healthy meals and practicing relaxation techniques or meditation are great examples of self-care.
We aren’t trying to escape anything. Self-soothing activities are better for us in the long run.
Soothe Your Soul
If I find myself pacing around a room or getting snarled in negative thoughts, I try to pull out of it by simply walking out the front door.
Sometimes it’s hard to put shoes on to do it, but once I’m outside going for a walk I do feel better.
I watch the people around me. I listen to nature. I smile at the simplicity of dog antics. Using the five senses – sight, taste, touch, sound, smell – is really effective in comforting yourself.
Write down a list of interests and hobbies. Do those things.
Consider what really makes your soul shine. Maybe it involves volunteering your time to a cause.
Maybe it’s learning to play guitar. Write a letter to someone you love. Read a good book. Start a blog. This should be a huge list.
I mentioned going for walks in nature and enjoying your surroundings using your five senses. The physical aspect also involves the release of dopamine and endorphins through this positive activity.
Consider it meditation in motion, as well.
Another way to get in touch with your physical body is through yoga.
You don’t have to practice hard core yoga to reap the physical benefits. You will still experience increased flexibility, improved respiration, circulatory health and more energy.
Engaging in some or all of the self-soothing ideas above means you are being kind to yourself.
If you aren’t caring for yourself first, you can’t tend to the other people in your life.
Do something every day that is loving – for yourself. Let me know in the comments what you do to take care of your well-being. It will help others, too!
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