Self-care is trending. But before you dismiss it with the heap of other pointless social media trends, consider what you need. Would your mind or body benefit from you putting time and energy into caring for yourself? If you often feel tired, anxious, stressed, or depressed, the answer is probably yes. So let’s take a closer look at self-care.
Think of someone you love in your life. Now think about the ways you care for them. That could be making time for them, giving them words of encouragement, or getting them gifts. You probably actively care for all of the people in your life on a regular basis. But many of us don’t do the same for ourselves.
Self-care is the active investment of time and energy in (you guessed it!) caring for ourselves. It’s an act of acknowledging that our minds and bodies work hard and need some attention. This isn’t self-obsession or narcissism. It’s the recognition that rest and restoration are key, that having compassion for ourselves is important, and that we should show ourselves the same kindness we show others.
But is self-care really necessary? Older generations never talked about self-care and they all turned out fine. But you could also argue that self-care was better built into daily life in a pre-digital age. Now, disconnecting is impossible unless you make a concerted effort. To combat the stressors of living the average American life in 2018, self-care matters. Here are a few reasons why.
Mental health is in a critical state in our country. More Americans than ever report suffering from anxiety and depression. And a portion of that can be attributed to the fact that most of us feel stressed most of the time. Dedicating time to self-care – whether that means getting enough sleep, carving out time for an activity you enjoy, or meditating– helps you manage stressors and protect your mental wellbeing.
We live in a fast-moving, highly-connected world. It’s not uncommon to go through an entire day simply responding to the inputs in front of us. But when we climb into a bed after a day of simply trying to keep our heads above water, we often feel exhausted and unfulfilled. Taking time to slow down and practice self-care disconnects us from this go-go-go mentality so we can pause and mindfully enjoy the best moments in our lives.
When you’re burnt out, you don’t feel up to much. That includes being there for the people in your life and investing in your community. Think of it this way. If your energy levels are a cup, self-care is a way to refill it. And you’re only able to pour yourself into the people around you when your cup isn’t already drained.
Fortunately, there are some really easy ways to jump in with self-care today! Remember, this is just an act of taking care of yourself. So it’s really as simple as dedicating some time to doing what you feel like your body and mind need. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
When was the last time you spent an hour in nature with no agenda? Head to the beach or your favorite hiking trail and enjoy. Spending time in the fresh air is good for you.
Slowing down in our busy world is hard. Sure, all of us could probably benefit from an hour of meditation – but getting our minds corraled for that long feels very challenging. Instead, brew a cup of your favorite warm beverage. Find a comfy place to sit and enjoy your coffee or tea. Taking that time – even if it’s just ten minutes – to rest with your thoughts and find contentment could transform your whole day.
No, really. Practicing self-care can be as simple as getting some shut-eye. This is all about giving ourselves what we need. And if your body is telling you it needs rest, listen to it!
There is power in learning to observe our thoughts and listen to our internal dialogue. Journaling can make that easier. If your brain has been feeling muddled, try pulling out pen and paper. The act of capturing your thoughts can help you unlock new potential and unload burdens.
A big part of the reason all of us feel so stressed and tired is that we stretch ourselves to our full capacity. And, sure, it’s exciting to see what we can accomplish when we strive, but striving all day, every day isn’t healthy. One of the most powerful acts of self-care is saying no to things that would overextend you.
Another great way to care for yourself is to make sure that you have the support you need. Our team at the Ventura Counseling & Wellness Center is here if you want to talk. To learn more about wellness and counseling services, get in touch.