Self-care is something you likely hear about a lot. There seems to be a consensus that you need to be practicing self-care, but what exactly is that? And how do you know if you’re doing it right? Self-care is the practice of engaging in what helps us to improve or maintain our overall health. So take a moment to consider what self-care currently looks like in your life and consider how you might maintain or improve your self-care practices. Here are some important reminders to help while you think.
Self-Care Benefits You AND Your Relationships
Taking care of yourself is not only beneficial to your individual wellbeing. Self-care is also important for your relationships! It is not uncommon for parents to buy into the narrative that putting themselves before their children sometimes is selfish. Your children rely on you a lot and your children’s needs will change as they move through various stages of development. Regardless of how old your children are, it is essential to your wellbeing and the health of your relationships within your family that you find ways to take time to nurture yourself! When you take care of yourself, you will be able to show up more effectively for your children. This also applies to any other relationships in your life! Try reframing your self-care as an act of love for your children, partner, friends, etc. When we take the time to nurture ourselves, we are better able to nurture those that we love. When you prioritize your own well-being, you may also be creating space for and inspiring the people in your life to engage in meaningful self-care as well.
Self-Care Will Not Always Be Fun and That is Okay
Instant gratification feels good, right? Sometimes self-care will look like engaging in something with an immediate payoff. It is also important to keep in mind that some of the things that you might be calling self-care are harmful at times. For instance, using alcohol and other substances to feel better might feel good in the moment, due to the flush of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in our brains. However, the long-term effects of using alcohol excessively are often harmful for your mental and physical health. On the other hand, some of the practices, processes, and activities that are not as enjoyable or fun help us to nurture ourselves. You may dread going to the dentist or taking 30 minutes during the day to go for a walk, however, these are two things that help us to maintain our health. And, of course, sometimes the things that feel great are great for us! If there are opportunities to engage in self-care and do something that brings you joy, that is absolutely something that is worth leaning into.
Self-Care is a Practice
You may think of self-care as something that needs to happen only when you have reached the point of exhaustion. It may even seem like self-care is a reward for hard work and achievement. However, when you wait until the moment when you are at your lowest to engage in self-care, it may be harder to get back to feeling energized, happy, motivated, content, etc. Engaging in meaningful self-care consistently will have a cumulative impact. Small acts of self-care may seem too small to matter or have a real impact, but the small acts of self-care practiced consistently over time help you to prevent burn out or exhaustion. Self-care is often sold to us as something with an immediate payoff, but just because something does not have an immediate payoff does not mean that it is not worth engaging in!
Questions to Ask Yourself as You are Navigating Self-Care
- What are the impacts of not engaging in self-care? What are the impacts of engaging in self-care?
- How do you want to feel? What are the activities, practices, moments, people, etc. that allow you to feel the way you want to feel?
- When are you feeling the most drained?
- What helps you to recharge?
- What do you need to do to take care of yourself in the next hour/day/week/month?
Practicing self-care is more than just a current trend. Taking care of yourself will allow you to feel better individually and in your relationships. As you navigate what self-care looks like in your life, reflect on these reminders, and bring more intention to the ways in which you nurture yourself and your relationships!