What is “self care”?

An introduction to the importance of self care, obstacles to effective self care and strategies to try at home.

For some people, taking care of themselves and thinking positively comes naturally, but for others this can be a struggle. Many people prioritize the wellbeing of others over their own; caring for lovers, friends or family members before tuning in to their own needs. Another barrier to effective self care is having a very busy daily life. Some may find themselves focusing on daily tasks such as work, keeping up the home and running errands. They may feel too exhausted to even consider doing something for themselves by the end of the day.

This is common, natural and understandable. Neglecting self care often comes from a good place; people with a caring nature, and unselfish tendencies may find themselves prioritizing people and things outside themselves. However, when we don’t take care of ourselves and make our own needs and wants a priority, we suffer. We often struggle emotionally, burn out more quickly and are more susceptible to physical illness.

Something else that gets in the way of self care is that, according to research, when we are stressed or depressed we become less creative. This can present challenges when trying to find ways to do self care activities on a limited time schedule and budget. For this reason discussing self care is very important in therapy.

Developing effective self care skills helps individuals heal themselves, decrease their stress, pain and improve their overall health. It may in turn lead to improved performance at work and better quality relationships with others.  It may lead to a more enjoyable life.

Below is an exhaustive list of self care strategies. Try one today! 

Remember to treat yourself like someone you love and be mindful of the experience. Pay attention to the physical sensations you experience, smells, tastes, sights, sounds etc. This is where healing starts. You deserve this!

Self Care Strategies

  • Relax in a warm bath, pay attention to how your body feels, and the scent of any oils, salts or soap you use
  • Go for a walk outside, try to observe things you haven’t seen before
  • Visit the beach, listen to the sounds of the waves
  • Visit the park, count as many green things as you can
  • Tidy up your space, note how you feel before and after
  • Burn a scented candle or essential oils in your home, take deep cleansing breaths in and out
  • Make a warm cup of tea, sip it slowly
  • Buy and eat a special desert, notice the taste and flavors
  • Watch the sunrise
  • Watch the sunset
  • Do a yoga or Pilates routine from YouTube that your doctor says is safe for you, feel connected to your body
  • Listen to a guided meditation
  • Explore a nearby town or city with a walking tour
  • Try a new hobby you’ve been interested in
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently
  • Journal for 10 minutes at the end of the day about your feelings and thoughts
  • Make a list of your accomplishments
  • Make a list of your strengths— read this over when you are having a hard day
  • Try progressive muscle relaxation
  • Get together with friends
  • Go to the gym or work out at home
  • Cook a healthy meal
  • Paint your nails
  • Do a face mask
  • Play with a pet
  • Visit a dog park
  • Visit an Art museum
  • Visit a Zoo
  • Visit an Aquarium
  • Find a website with a list of free activities in your town/ city
  • Go to the movies or watch a movie at home with a bowl of popcorn and a warm blanket
  • Read a book you are interested in
  • Try acupuncture
  • Get a Massage
  • Get a Manicure
  • Try a Spa treatment
  • Plan and go on a weekend getaway
  • Visit the theater (sign up online for free tickets if possible)
  • Take a Vacation
  • Remodel your home or redecorate

Tip: Keep a running list of self care activities you are interested in, put it in the note section of your phone. Refer to this list when you are having a tough day. Accomplishing goals, by checking things off the list, and doing things that make you feel good, makes you release feel good brain chemicals. This will help you feel better faster.

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