Self- care, self-love, self-compassion, self-talk...does all this makes us self-involved or selfish? The short answer is no, it does not. We have to understand these terms, what they truly mean and when to use them as coping strategies. In a previous post on self-compassion I discussed what is meant by self-compassion and how we can practise self-compassion.This article will discuss self-care, what it means, how to practise self-care and why is self-care not selfish.
What is Self-care?
Activities which help you maintain good mental and physical health are self-care activities.
It is very simply, taking care of yourself, doing things you enjoy which relax and energise you.
These activities include physical care, psychological and emotional care, professional care, social care and spiritual care. Self-care is done from the perspective of adding value to your well-being, energising you and helping you unwind. Self-care, like self-compassion, helps in creating more space in your environment for others. Reflect on how you behave with people around you when you are stressed as compared to when you are relaxed. By taking care of yourself and improving your well-being it enables you to spread it around to others in your environment.
What is Selfishness?
Selfishness on the other hand is from the perceptive of doing things for yourself even if they harm others.It is a disregard of others in favour of your profit or pleasure. Given the difference in perspectives it is clear that self-care is not selfish. Self-care is not meant to harm or disregard others but to improve our well-being in order to create a nurturing environment around us that helps people we love thrive.
Taking care of yourself so that you can be happy, energised, more productive, affectionate and compassionate is self-care and in no way selfish.
When do you need self-care?
Everyday! That is right, you need to practise self-care everyday. Some amount of everyday self-care is important for our well-being. Taking ten minutes everyday for personal grooming can go a long way in making you feel better. Ever so often extra time can be taken from your mundane, when things are too hectic or stressful to unwind.
Who needs self-care?
Every adult needs self-care and every child should be taught value of self-care(children learn by observation). A lot of self-care is targeted at women but that doesn't mean that men do not require some self-care. If you are a human you need to take care of yourself from time to time. It is as simple as that. Don't forget yourself because you are too busy, give yourself time and take care of yourself.
Where to begin?
It is important to make an assessment of our current self-care situation and move forward from there. A good place to begin is to assess your current self-care regime; things you do not include in your everyday self-care, things you feel you can improve, things you are already doing.
Ask yourself following question:
Do I eat healthy? Do I follow personal hygiene? Do I sleep well? Do I take time to groom? Do I exercise?
Psychological & Emotional Self-care:
Do I make time for my hobbies? Do I take holidays/personal days? Do I share my personal issues with loved ones? Do I express my emotions to my loved ones? Do I maintain personal boundaries?
Do I talk to my friends and family? Have interesting conversations? Do I spend time with significant other?
Do I say 'no' to excessive responsibilities? Do I learn new skills at work? Do I take breaks during work? Do I maintain a boundary between work and home?
Do I use my morals and values in everyday life? Do I take time time to appreciate nature/art? Do I spend time in introspection?
This is not an exhaustive list of questions some of them may apply to you some might not, use this as a starting point to assess your current self-care needs.
Tips for self-care
Self-care is a habit:
Do it regularly and see the change in your well-being. It shouldn't be done once in a while. Like exercising one day is not going to make you healthy, fit or strong similarly, self-care has to be practised regularly.
Make self-care goals:
Set goals of what you will do for self-care everyday. 'walking everyday for thirty minutes' ' reading a chapter of my book before bed' 'spending time playing with my pet every evening', these are specific goals which will add to your well-being.
Self-care is not time specific:
If you are supremely busy, instead of 30 minutes take a ten minute walk. Give yourself whatever little time you can, take care of yourself. If you are snowed under by too much work, step away from computer for two minutes and stretch. Self-care doesn't have to be monumental to matter, small activities go a long way.
Even if you are having a difficult day do not give up on your self-care. Most times self-care activities can help cope with your difficulties they can be relaxing and soothing.
Self-care is no excuse for unhealthy behaviour:
Overeating, no physical activity, isolation, substance abuse are not self-care they are temporary fixes that don't last long. Do not engage in unhealthy or self-defeating behaviour in name of self-care.
These are simple tips for improving your well-being. Self-care is supposed to bring joy, relaxation and energy into your life so treat self-care like a treat. It is not a punishment that you have to endure, don't make it another reason for your anxiety or another item to be checked off on the to-do list. Make it your oasis in the hectic and stress life. Future posts will discuss various ways of self-care.