Published by: Kate
What is ‘Self-Care?’ I hear this term all the time. But what does it mean? How does one accomplish it?
I found a post on The Mighty website called 20 ‘Legit’ Self-Care Ideas (For When Bubble Baths Just Don’t Cut It). It had some great tips for, in my opinion when things get really rough, self-care. The article really got me thinking about the topic of self-care.
Merriam-Webster defines self-care as “Care for oneself…” (Merriam-Webster, Self-Care, 2018 Merriam-Webster Incorporated). The Oxford Dictionary explains it in more detail. They defined it as the “…action to preserve or improve one’s own health” and “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” (Oxford Living Dictionaries, Self-Care, 2018 Oxford University Press).
Neither of these dictionaries really explain self-care; or how to achieve it. I am still left wondering what self-care means.
I found several interesting articles & blog posts on this subject. One that I really related to was 45 Simple Self-Care Practices For A Healthy Mind, body, & Soul I found on the Tiny Buddha website. This article, by Ellen Bard, made me think about what I had gone through the past few years.
In it, the author details how she struggled through her career & left no time for her self. I related to this because I went through something similar. Several years ago my depression relapsed; I hated myself, I hated my life, & I hated where I was headed. I tried to make changes in my life in order to “snap out of it” but nothing worked. It got to the point that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning; I was not taking care of myself at all whatsoever.
Like the author, spoiler alert, I too quit my job. I started to focus on myself. After leaving I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders; I had a momentary release of stress. I started focusing on my health & started exercising. The best part is I started to do it to make myself feel better. My mental health is what I wanted to take care of.
For me, self-care is taking care of my mental health just as much as my physical health.
In my research, I also realized that self-care is not just for persons dealing with mental illness. It is something that everyone needs to practice.
The website Lifehacker, in the article Why Self Care Is So Important, provides three reasons why self-care is important to everyone. To sum up the article: reducing stress, refocusing, & preventing burnout are the major reasons one needs to practice self-care. These are things that happen in everyday life.
Have you ever had a ton of overtime at work? Or had taken on too many tasks at once? I know I have; this has actually happened on several occasions in my life. Overworking oneself can cause some major stress both on the mind and the body itself.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA):
“Shift workers may be scheduled to work days, evenings, nights and/or on a rotating or on-call basis. They may work extended shifts (more than 8 hours long), rotating or irregular shifts, or consecutive shifts resulting in more than the typical 40-hour work week. Long work hours may increase the risk of injuries and accidents and can contribute to poor health and worker fatigue. Studies show that long work hours can result in increased levels of stress, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity and illness. It is important to recognize the symptoms of worker fatigue and its potential impact on each worker’s safety and health and on the safety of co-workers. (OSHA, Long Work Hours, Extended or Irregular Shifts, and Worker Fatigue, 2018)
I saw in a Facebook video that on average Americans work around fifty hours a week. If you factor in children, errands, travel time, etc. There doesn’t leave a lot of room for relaxation. Stress can lead to many health problems. The Mayo Clinic indicates that “…chronic stress can wear you down and overwhelm you…productivity may decrease, your relationships may suffer, you may develop sleep problems…” (Daniel K. Hall-Flavin M.D., Stress Management, 2018). That is why self-care is so important.
There are many ways to achieve self-care. That being said self-care can is also different for everyone.
Many of the websites I found provide ideas for self-care. Some suggest taking deep breaths to oxygenate your body, taking a walk, or even stretching. These are helpful; I often do these sometimes to help release some built up tension from daily stress. But what if your stress is so bad that or so chronic that you feel like nothing will help?
Take a day off. Take a day off to unwind. Take a bubble bath. Watch some Netflix or Hulu, maybe even read a book & lounge around. I know it may sound simple but these have always helped me. When things got really bad for me I started exercising more & really concentrated on making myself feel better.
Self-care, I believe, is about making sure you feel good both inside & out. Making sure you make time for yourself; even if you “can’t find the time” take a minute or a few seconds to do something that makes you feels good. Do something that makes you happy, that is the best self-care.
If you’re still in a funk talk to someone about it.
Sometimes talking can be the best form of self-care. You should never be uncomfortable to ask someone for help. If you are not sure of where to go there are several phone applications or websites that provide online assistance. BetterHelp Online Therapy is one website helps match you with the right online therapist. Headspace is a phone application that helps you clear your mind and meditate; Talkspace is similar but it allows you to talk to a counselor.
You could even just talk to a friend or a family member. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a person directly you could even try writing about it. Sometimes just getting your frustration or stress out creatively can really help.
The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself.