Self care is important for your well-being, but let’s be clear: Self-care is not self indulgence or being selfish. There is also a subtle difference between “self-care” and “self-improvement” like weight loss. Self care means taking care of yourself to reduce stress, so that you can be well, function more efficiently, and help others. It is very important to consider your own needs and make them a priority.
Self care improves your ability to focus and refocus when you take breaks from stressful or difficult tasks. When you are calm, you think more clearly. By taking care of yourself you reduce the physical and mental impact of stress. Do you have a list of specific things you do just for yourself? Years ago, I took a sick day from work, and the boss called and asked what I was doing. I replied, “Horseback riding,” and while she was very unhappy with my “sick day,” I added, “I needed a mental health day.” Riding for me is something I need to do for myself in order to function more efficiently.
I would like to share some healing practices and ideas for self care ideas that Dr. Fran Gordon, a psychologist in North Carolina developed.
Self care ideas for the body: Take a walk; sit somewhere in nature; take a bath; have a cup of tea; take some deep mindful breaths; dance and sing to your favorite songs; stretch; be still; get 15 minutes of sunlight; have a good laugh; get a massage; practice yoga; exercise; go swimming.
Self care ideas for the heart: Give yourself a hug; have a good cry; show gratitude; look at yourself through the eyes of a loving parent or friend; say kind words to yourself; learn how to self-soothe; go on a date with yourself; spend time around people who support you; play for five minutes a day; document the great things people say about you to read later; do one thing today that makes you happy.
Self care ideas for the mind: Learn something new; journal and self-reflect; meditate; pay attention to the present moment; take a break from social media; create a routine for your day; simplify your to-do list; put your phone in airplane mode after 6 p.m. or take a mini holiday from it; set yourself small and manageable goals; do something outside of your comfort zone; set limits on your time and energy; take another route to work so that you can create new neural pathways to the brain.
Self care for the soul: Sit quietly and name without judgment what you are feeling; stroke a pet; ask three friends to tell you what they love about you; make a small connection, as with a sales clerk or cashier; splurge a little; plan a two-day holiday or do something new in your city; go to the beach and watch the ocean; watch the night sky and the stars; go to the mountains; be one with nature; volunteer.
Implementing self care routines and activities can be challenging, but they are essential. It is important to maintain your own personal happiness. Please do not use the excuse of not having enough time or money. Start small, choose just a few things from the list above. Self care is not a “separate activity.” Build it into your life’s routines.