You’ll often see me posting or writing about self-care and encouraging you to do something for yourself. But what is self-care really and why is it so important for us?
Self-care is all too often put last on our list of things to do. There’s work to finish, a house to clean, friends or family to help out, bills to pay, and so on and so on – we could all add tens of things to our lists that we need to get done. We live in an increasingly busy society with the constant expectation that we can continue to do more with less. But with those expectations, pressures, and responsibilities, we find ourselves neglecting our own needs which creates a detriment to our physical and mental health.
Self-care is not only good for you, it’s essential to keep yourself in a healthy state, and establishing a self-care routine will help every area of your life from improving your physical health, reducing your stress and anxiety, enhancing your relationships, and can help improve your self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s always the number one thing I tell people to start implementing whenever they want to make some positive improvements in their life.
Looking after yourself with self-care activities feels good too! Think about how you feel after a nice walk, getting a good night sleep, or cooking yourself a delicious but healthy dinner. Your mood is better, your day feels better, you feel better!
I always liken the act of self-care to the flight attendant’s safety address on the plane before take-off. ‘In the event of an emergency, place the oxygen mask on yourself before you help anybody else’. Looking after yourself is the same. If you’re lacking life force (in the case of the plane it’s oxygen and in terms of your life it’s energy, happiness, well-being etc.) you can’t effectively help anyone else. If you don’t keep filling up your life-force in these areas, you can’t properly help anyone else and you can’t properly create a life you’re going to love and be proud to look back on.
Self-care is not a new concept and it’s also not complex, self-care is simply a habit of looking after yourself by doing thing that actively look after your physical, mental, or emotional health. But self-care has also become a bit of a buzz word lately with lots of posts of images of women in a bubble bath or having a massage, but is that what self-care is really about? If I have a bubble bath tonight, can I tick self-care off my To Do list? Well, yes and no. Let me explain.
So, what does self-care look like? It certainly can look like the lady in the images we see everywhere getting a massage or having her nails done, but what it often looks like is someone getting enough sleep each night, drinking enough water each day, or going on a daily walk. The key with self-care is the consistency you put with it. If you go for a walk just once, you may enjoy it and feel better afterwards, but if you do nothing else to follow up, you lose all the benefits. It’s only when you do things consistently that you start to feel and see the benefits of self-care. So if you go for a bubble bath once every few months, it’s just a treat. If you go for a bath every Sunday night, it becomes self care. If you cook yourself a delicious and healthy meal once every now and again, it’s a treat. If you cook yourself those meals on a regular basis, it becomes self-care.
Do you see the difference now between what self-care is and what treating yourself is? Sometimes people put off self-care because it feels indulgent, and self-care can definitely feel indulgent, but self-care is really just about building habits to take care of your own personal wellbeing.
Self-care is different for everyone because everyone has different needs and different ideas of what feels good to them but the thing to remember is that self-care doesn’t have to cost a lot and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time if you’re under pressure.
Something as simple as listening to your favourite music, doing a 5-minute meditation, or going for a short walk can all be examples of self-care, but so can having a trip to a day spa, meeting friends for lunch or dinner, getting a new hair style or having your nails done. The thing is to work out what works for you, what fits your time and your budget, and what you know you can fit in regularly, because remember, consistency in self-care is key.
What is your usual go to for your self-care?