We often put self-care on the back-burner, believing we are selfish for even thinking about it. However, self-care is an important part of stress management and the key to good mental health. For many, it is essential to prevent burnout.
The Basics of Self-Care
Most people probably think that self-care is selfish because they confuse it with pampering which can sometimes be indulgent. But the two are very distinct. According to Psychology Today, “Self-care means choosing behaviours that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors.” Instead of thinking of it as indulgence, we should approach self-care as a necessary way to reduce stress and anxiety in our lives.
What are some of the basic ways we can care for ourselves? There are things we can do that are so simple they are often overlooked:
Sleep Are you getting a full seven hours of sleep a night? Are you sleeping properly or do you wake up exhausted even when you do sleep? This basic need is a restorative function that helps our bodies to feel good and fight stress. Develop a wind-down routine before bed and add a few extra minutes of sleep to your schedule every night. If you having serious sleep difficulties, talk to your doctor.
Relaxation This is not to be confused with sleep. Relaxation is a smaller break you take during the day that allows you rest from taxing activities. For example, if you have a high-pressure job or a stressful family life, simple activities such as deep breathing, a 20-minute walk, or a soothing bath can help you to decompress. These short relaxation breaks throughout your week can help you to feel less overwhelmed.
Just Say “No” Another common problem in today’s world is that we feel obliged to say “yes” to everything that comes our way, from income opportunities to volunteer work at our kid’s school, and so on. But saying yes to everything will reduce your ability to be good at anything. Leadership expert Michael Hyatt has an excellent post on why you should start saying no without feeling guilty.
Stress Reduction It’s important to note that all of these things reduce stress. There are many other actions you can take including simple tasks that work your body while letting your mind relax. For example, repetitive work such as folding laundry can help you unwind.
Self-Care For Your Situation
What if you need more help than this? Some specific situations may require a bit more self-care.
Self-care is important for anyone in addiction recovery. Some of the best tools for those in recovery include:
Developing a new, safe hobby that feeds an interest you have such as playing an instrument or ballroom dancing. That activity can help you avoid temptation and relapse.
Meditation and deep breathing that can bring clarity, relaxation and focus to help you make progress in recovery. Learn breathing techniques from Psych Central.
Practicing yoga to combine fitness, relaxation and meditation to help improve both mind and body. Learn even more benefits of yoga for addiction recovery from Yoga Journal.
Overwhelmed With Must-Do Tasks
Caregivers, people who work long hours and business owners often find themselves with no free time. Get support by asking for help, learning to say no, and dropping some of your low priority tasks.
Major Life Changes
If you are struggling with major life changes, you need time to process and adjust what’s going on. Don’t take on any new projects at this time. Instead, make space for relaxation and mindfulness. You may want to work with a counselor to process any negative emotions you are experiencing.
Self-care is not indulgent, but it is an important part of improving our mental health and reducing stress. Find the time and space to care for your inner needs today.
Help and Advice
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