Self-care has become a catchword in recent years, and for good reason. It’s an important component in maintaining our mental health and emotional well-being, yet many of us struggle with implementing it into our daily lives.
Why Do We Want To Self-Care?
Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve your mental and physical health. When it comes to mental health, self-care helps you manage stress, and feel energetic and resilient (NIMH, 2022). Being a popular concept in the mental health world, many people struggle with maintaining self-care, as people often try to do what other people or media say should make them feel better. Rather they should explore and know what makes them feel better, and just not follow the trend.
Unfortunately, it is common for people to view self-care as a need more influenced by the outer world rather than something they actually want to do. This can be driven by a variety of factors, including social media, peer pressure, or the pressure to maintain a certain image (Pahr, 2019). When self-care is perceived in this way, it can lead to feelings of guilt, stress, and anxiety, which is opposite to its intended purpose. Hence, people often engage in activities that they don’t actually enjoy or find fulfilling. For example, some people force themselves to go to the gym every day even if they don’t enjoy it, simply because it will make them “fit” and so they feel like it's something one “should '' do for their health.
To truly benefit from self-care, it's important to approach it in a way that is genuine to our own needs and choices.
How Can We Make Self-Care Happen?
The first thing to understand and remind yourself is that it is a priority for your mental and physical health and try to make it a part of your daily routine. This means carving out time in our schedule but it doesn’t have to be a task that we ‘have’ to do, rather it is something that we ‘want’ to do. Several studies talk of how self-care is something that should bring balance and not unbalance you. Read further to understand how to identify your self-care niche.
When it comes to deciding what self-care activities to engage in, it's important to remember that not all self-care is created equal. It's easy to be influenced by the latest trends, but it's important to focus on what works best for you. And to determine so, one can start by reflecting on one’s needs and preferences. These questions can help you understand the same:
· What activities help me relax and destress?
· What activities also bring me joy, with de-stressing?
· What activities (emotional, physical, spiritual) help me feel more in control of my thoughts, emotions, and/or behaviours?
It's important to approach self-care in a way that feels enjoyable and fulfilling, rather than feeling like a task. Once we have a better understanding of our own needs and preferences, we can create a personalised self-care routine that works best for us, with our daily routine. One can also explore different self-care activities and experiment with what works best for us. This may include painting, writing, journaling, mindfulness, yoga, gym, cooking, spending time with nature, practising mindfulness, or anything else that feels fulfilling and relaxing within.
Another important aspect of practising self-care is setting boundaries (Cechovic, 2022). This means try saying no to activities that do not align with your priorities and healthy routine. It's rather okay to prioritize your well-being and say no to tempting things, that may also impact negatively.
Additionally, it is important to remember that self-care is not just about engaging in enjoyable activities, but also taking care of our mental and emotional health. This may include seeking support from mental health professionals, setting boundaries in relationships and routines and seeking support from loved ones.
To conclude, self-care is a crucial aspect of maintaining our mental, emotional, and even physical health and well-being. While it can be difficult to implement, one can prioritize it by making it a small but non-negotiable part of their routine, which can help make it a reality to your self.
Cechovic, K. (2022). Setting Healthy Boundaries as a Form of Self-Care. In K. Cechovic, InforMS Magazine. Westminster: Rocky Mountain MS Centre.
How and Why to Practice Self-care. (2022, March 14). Retrieved from Mental Health First Aid: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2022/03/how-and-why-to-practice-self-care/#:~:text=Practicing%20self%2Dcare%20can%20better,%2C%20increase%20happiness%2C%20and%20more.
NIMH. (2022, December). Caring for Your Mental Health. Mental Heakth Information. Bestheda: National Institute of Mental Health.
Pahr, K. (2019, April 19). For Many People with Anxiety, Self-Care Just Doesn’t Work. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/self-care-is-hard#10