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Some people have a habit of treating themselves incredibly harshly. They focus on the needs of others and forget about themselves completely. When the little voice inside their heads tells them to take it easier, they ignore it. And if you have read this blog for any amount of time you’ll remember what my mom always says, “If you don’t take care of yourself, then how can you be up for helping take care of others?!”
Let’s get something straight: practicing acts of self-care isn’t being a selfish person. Self-care doesn’t mean overindulgence; it means taking care of yourself so you have the mental, emotional, and physical health to help take care of others. It is one of the best ways to serve other people. If you’re looking after yourself, you have more physical and emotional energy to deal with the needs of others.
Moreover, self-care is a way to be healthier for your own sake. You can perform better in your relationships and at work if you feel good most of the time.
What Is Self-Care?
At root, self-care is a range of practices that helps people deal better with daily stressors. It involved engaging in techniques that make it easier to cope with the challenges of life.
That’s actually a pretty broad definition when you think about it. Self-care could include taking a break from work for an entire weekend, eating healthy food, or getting a massage. It can also include changing the way you think to be kinder to yourself.
What Types Of Self-Care Are There?
There are several types of self-care. But, as a general rule of thumb, self-care is anything that puts a smile on your face that doesn’t harm you or others at the same time.
Medical professionals like to group self-care into three categories. The first is emotional self-care. The idea here is to do kind things for yourself from time to time. For instance, you might have a bubble bath or give yourself a five-minute break on a hectic day. You could also meet up with a friend for a coffee or go for a cycle ride. All of these activities have the potential to make you feel great.
The next is physical self-care. This could include prioritizing sleep or going to the gym.
Lastly, you may want to consider spiritual self-care. Things like meditation or keeping a gratitude journal can all make a difference. You can also do things like being randomly kind to people or spending some time alone by yourself in the mountains, enjoying the solitude.
What’s The Difference Between Temporary And Enduring Self-Care?
Temporary self-care is something that lasts a short time but then eventually goes away. Enduring self-care, by contrast, lasts a lot longer and has permanent effects.
For instance, going to the bowling alley with friends is a good example of temporary self-care. Here you can enjoy some fun and build social connections with friends and family.
Enduring self-care occurs when you do something that has long-term effects. For instance, regularly practicing mindfulness eventually changes the way your brain works. The more you improve emotional self-regulation, the better you’ll feel long-term.
Getting support for addiction is another good example. If done correctly, the effects of rehabilitation should last a lifetime.
What Isn’t Self-Care?
Nobody knows exactly what counts as self-care but there are some things that are unlikely to lead to it.
As a general rule of thumb, self-care should generate joy in the long-term. That is, it should set you up for a better life in the future, one you can enjoy more.
Self-care isn’t about spending a lot of money on luxurious experiences. While pampering is nice and can provide temporary relief, it doesn’t necessarily deal with the root of the problem.
In fact, self-care doesn’t actually have to cost anything. It’s something you can practice here and now. For instance, just being more mindful of your thoughts can make a tremendous difference in how you feel.
How To Practice Self-Care
There are several ways you can practice self-care to support your health. You should choose the methods that benefit you the most.
- Make your bed: One option is to make your bed in the morning. It’s effective because it helps to add a sense of order to your external world. When you make the bed in the morning, it lets you order everything else in your life. You feel more in control and your mind is more settled.
- Do daily chores. Doing chores every day is another powerful way to care for yourself. Not only does it make your house a more pleasant place to live, but it also gives you a sense of calm and order in your environment. Having everything neat and tidy can dramatically change your mood.
- Spend time being mindful: Try to make mindfulness a part of your routine. Get into the habit of challenging false beliefs and reminding yourself that everything’s going to be okay.
How Self-Care Enhances Wellbeing
Today, there is striking evidence that practicing self-care can have a dramatic impact on a person’s health. People who look after themselves tend to live longer and get fewer diseases.
The reasons for this effect aren’t entirely clear. However, research shows that things like yoga and a certain enlightened attitude to life support longevity tremendously.
People who care for themselves also avoid behaviors that contribute to disease, such as drinking and smoking. They focus on following a healthy exercise plan. And they ask themselves deep questions about who they are and what they can do to serve their needs.
Self-care isn’t just a method. It’s also a purpose. People who take care of themselves find something worthwhile to commit themselves to in life and stick with it. They find some purpose or reason for being and then pursue that with everything they have. That kind of approach appears to reduce mortality risk significantly.
According to science, getting outside is critical. People who spend more time in green space have lower mortality and better health outcomes than those who don’t.
The good news is that starting a self-care routine is easy. Choose activities that you know will bring you enduring joy and start small. Then build them into your life, taking time to really feel the effects of self-care on your life. Then, after a few months, reflect on how you feel and ask if your approach is working.
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