Good self-care is essential in maintaining our mental, emotional, physical, relational and spiritual health. Good self-care is about engaging in activities that nourish and recharge our mind, body and spirit; increasing our sense of well-bing in the world. No one is responsible for our self-care but ourselves; it is self-initiated, intentional and under our control. If we are not used to engaging in daily self-care activities, we first may need to change the way we think about it. We may find the following thoughts running through our mind: “I don’t have time to recharge today, I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I don’t deserve to treat myself so nicely,” or “Others will think I’m being selfish if they see me doing things for myself.” The problem with these messages is that tomorrow never comes, it is harsh and unloving, and it places too much weight on what other people think of us. We may want to consider replacing these unhelpful thoughts with a more compassionate and loving message. “I’m worth it,” “I give myself permission,” “It’s not selfish for me to take good care of myself; I release any false guilt associated with taking good care of myself,” “If I take good care of myself, I will feel better about myself,” “I deserve it.”
Another helpful thought to consider is that engaging in good self-care actives needs to be done on a daily basis; telling ourselves, “It’s not optional.” Neither do we waste time debating, negotiating or arguing within ourselves about engaging in daily good self-care activities. We need to commit to living a lifestyle of taking good care of ourselves; therefore, we make a conscious, deliberate choice to replenish ourselves sometime during each day. By planning ahead of time, sets us up to follow-through with our chosen self-care activity for the day. After we have followed through and engaged in our self-care activity, we can mentally, positively reinforce ourselves for following through. We can tell ourselves; “Good job for doing…” This may feel like a positive pat on our back, reinforcing our behavior, and increasing the likelihood of us following through in the future. By making a choice to engage in good self-care actives on a daily bases, sets us up for living a life-style of taking good care of ourselves. We may notice the following improvements; changes in our mood, energy level, ability to cope with stress and our general, overall sense of well-being.
If we are new to engaging in good self-care activities, we may not initially know what we can do to help take good care of ourselves. Good self-care activities include those activities which bring balance to our physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual needs; such as eating a nutritious diet, exercise, rest, sleep, socializing, time with God, work, play, and creativity.
Good self-care activities can range from simple things we can do for ourselves to more elaborate activities. We can take hourly breaks at work from the computer by standing up and stretching or looking out the window to appreciate something beautiful or interesting outside. It can be going for a short walk outside, to get a change of scenery and to feel the sunshine on our skin, during our scheduled breaks or lunch break. It can be connecting with others through a phone call, email or text. It can be doing something more substantial like take a bubble bath, while listening to relaxing music or perhaps lighting some candles. We can do mindfulness, gratitude or relaxation meditations. We could go for a drive, exercise, read a book, watch a movie or T.V. program. We could watch funny utube videos to enjoy a good laugh. We could cook our favorite food for dinner or make a special snack or treat ourselves by going out for either one. We could engage in doing one of our favorite hobbies or try a new one. We could plan to meet friends for a meal, outing for the day or a weekend get-a-way. As you can see, there are endless possibilities for what we can do to engage in self-care activities.
The important thing to remember is that it be something we find life-giving, enjoyable, relaxing and/or something that will replenish our mental, emotional, physical or spiritual sense of well-being. Trying different actives and changing them up will keep the sense of novelty, preventing a mundane routine. The benefits of taking time out of our schedule to engage in good self-care activities will be quickly realized and we will be on our way to living a life-style of practicing good self-care.