Why We All Need To Practice Self-Care
Self-care is often under-valued and forgotten in our fast-paced schedules. Self-care is something I encourage in my private practice. I want my clients to make time for themselves in such a way that they are truly caring for themselves. We all need to slow down long enough to take inventory of what is going on internally.
When we allow ourselves time to slow down, we are able to attend to our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Caring for all of these areas is vital to our well-being. Self-care simply implies we are making healthy life choices like eating nutritious food, getting enough rest, regular exercise and relaxation. When we do these things, we are engaging in refreshing and life giving practices.
Here are 4 simple steps to self-care:
Start the day with an attitude of gratitude.
Being thankful for the many blessings we have in our lives is fundamental to self-care. Adjusting our thoughts and focusing on the good things in our life helps our mental well-being.
Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. ~Zig Ziglar
Tip: Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for every morning. Starting your day this way will shift your mind and energy on to important things that really matter in life.
Practice the art of being present.
Many of us are swept up in thoughts that can pull us in a hundred different directions. Slowing down to experience life and not just “think” about life is important for self-care. Experiencing the world around us and being in the “here and now” takes practice.
The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness. ~ Abraham Maslow
Tip: One of the core features of being present involves observing your experiences, in a more intentional way. Rather than being analytical and in thinking mode, try focusing on your experiences through your senses (e.g., What are you seeing? Feeling? Smelling? Hearing? Tasting?).
Take time to breathe.
Research indicates there is more to the adage “slow down and smell the roses” than we might think. Slowing down long enough to really breathe has great benefits. Deep abdominal breathing, can help to soothe and relax our anxious and stressed bodies, calm our nerves and lower our blood pressure. Once you are calm you can improve concentration, clarity and focus.
Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. ~Oprah Winfrey
Tip: Try getting into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Now concentrate on taking a deep abdominal breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Count to four while you are inhaling and then slowly exhale to a count of four. Your lower abdomen should rise slightly with every breath. Imagine a balloon inflating and deflating. Do this for several minutes until your body begins to relax.
Take time to refresh your soul.
Looking forward to something that refreshes and energizes you on a consistent basis is key to self-care. Many of us get so caught up in our schedules, routines and families that we forget to do things that rejuvenate and refresh us. Some things I do on a regular basis include reading my Bible, journaling and praying. I also enjoy exercising, spending time with good friends, reading, writing, gardening and taking walks. During the warmer months, I love going to the beach. These are some of the things I do on a consistent basis to help take care of myself.
You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body. ~C.S. Lewis
Tip: Try identifying 3 things you do on a regular basis that will help refresh your soul. If you can’t think of anything, now is a good time to start. Once you have your ideas in mind, practice them on a regular basis. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Read a good book
- Watch a classic movie
- Lunch with a good friend
- Take a bubble bath
- Start a small group with friends
- Take a walk in the sunshine
- Get a puppy
- Start up a new hobby
- Write about your life dreams
Especially relevant and my encouragement to you is to take care of yourself. In so doing, your other relationships will probably be enriched and you will most likely experience greater mental health and well-being.