10 Ways to Practice Self-Care
Self-care is a buzz word we’ve heard a lot recently… and it can often be used to refer to self-indulgence or selfishness, but the reality is, practicing self-care is crucial to one’s overall well-being.
Self-care isn’t a selfish pursuit but the deliberate and intentional process of tending to one’s mind, body, and spirit. The problem with a lack of self-care is that you can’t pour out what isn’t being poured into you. If you’re not taking care of your own mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, it won’t be long before you become ineffective at caring for others.
Women are often the first to neglect self-care as they are busy taking care of everyone around them… kids, spouses/partners, co-workers, aging parents, etc. As natural nurturers, women tend to nurture those around them and fail to nurture themselves.
Here are some practical ways to practice self-care in your daily life, finding time and energy to make sure you’re living well in order to better care for others…
Learn to ask for and accept help.
Setting yourself up to succeed in life is often the goal of self-care, and to do so, you might need to admit that you can’t “do it all” on your own. And sometimes, it might even mean accepting “good enough” instead of pushing for an elusive perfection. Allowing others to help us isn’t a sign of weakness or inability. It’s the sign that we’ve matured to the point of understanding that we weren’t created to do life alone. Asking for help when we need it and letting others help us is a good self-care practice.
Develop a regular sleep routine.
When we’re busy caring for others, one of the first things to be sacrificed is often our sleep, especially if we have kids. Developing a regular sleep routine (that includes at least 7-8 hours a night on average) is important not only for physical health but mental health as well. Life generally doesn’t allow us to get a perfect night of sleep multiple nights in a row, but setting ourselves up for success with a regular nighttime routine and attempts to sleep and wake at the same time each day is a good way to practice self-care.
Eat a healthy diet.
Busy women tend to have a grab-and-go diet, and many skip meals thinking they are saving calories. But the reality is that eating healthy, fresh food regularly throughout the day is necessary for your body to function the way it was intended. Your body needs nutritional energy throughout the day, so being prepared with small snacks and regular meals is critical to taking care of your body.
Practicing self-care includes taking care of our bodies through healthy diets.
Take lunch breaks.
Unless mandated by our employers, we tend to neglect to take a lunch break when we’re busy trying to fit all of the things into a single day. We think that working through the lunch hour (whether on the job, out running errands, or trying to get things done around the house) will allow us to fit more into our day. Some of us justify this by eating on the go or snacking
throughout the day, but we fail to pause in our day and rest. Taking a lunch break in the middle of the day is not only fueling your body for the tasks ahead but also allows your brain to rest. Pausing in the middle of the day for a lunch break is one way to practice self-care.
Don’t overextend yourself.
Saying “yes” to every opportunity and request that comes your way will quickly lead to feeling overextended and burnt-out. If you’re a natural “people pleaser,” you’ll especially struggle with this as you’ll want to help out wherever and whenever you can. But you must remember that every “yes” you say to a request is a “no” to something else in your life.
And good self-care practices remind us that we can’t say “no” to our own health and well-being if we want to be able to say “yes” to opportunities presented by others.
One of the first things to often be neglected when we get busy is our need for regular exercise. We make the excuse that we just don’t have time to fit it into our already busy life, and too often, we don’t realize our need for it until we find ourselves suffering from the lack of it. Regular fitness is not only important to keep our physical bodies strong and mobile, but it boosts our mental well-being, too.
Whether you join a fitness class, meet up with friends to walk/run, or make the most of the commercial breaks during your favorite TV show, making regular exercise a priority is good self-care.
Make time for friends.
Make it a priority to regularly connect with friends who build into your life. For some this looks like a monthly-ish coffee date to catch up and encourage one another. For others this might look like grabbing lunch or going for a run together after work or on the weekends. Having people in your life who build into you and give you a chance to let down your guard is one of the best ways to practice self-care when it comes to your mental and spiritual well-being.
Learn to say no.
Setting boundaries for your time and energy (physical, mental, and emotional) is a crucial part of self-care. You only have so much time and energy to expend, and you need to be able to use them where they’ll make the most difference. Have clearly defined boundaries for when you
need to say no to requests, events, people, and tasks in order to protect yourself from being overdrawn. Practice good self-care by learning to say no through setting up boundaries.
Many of the above ways to practice self-care could fall under the all-encompassing umbrella of practicing prevention. The reason that they are all important to self-care is that they all help to prevent you from “falling apart.” When you fail to take care of yourself, you run your body down, making it susceptible to illness and injury.
Preventative self-care helps you to keep your mind, body, and spirit in optimal health, keeping injury and illness at bay.
Don’t put it off.
When you do find yourself run down, ill, or injured, don’t put it off. Don’t let the busyness of life get in the way of taking care of yourself. Make an appointment with a counselor to talk about the heavy things in life, see the doctor to address the sickness you’re facing, or schedule a consultation with your physical therapist to start your injury recovery process.
Taking care of yourself as soon as you are feeling less than your best is good self-care and will lessen the time you spend trying to get back to your normal self.
Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists Physical Therapy has locations in Okemos, Holt, West Lansing, Ann Arbor, Jackson (5 locations), Jonesville and Leslie.
Learn more about Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists Physical Therapy HERE.