There’s a mindset among many people that self-care amounts to selfishness. It’s a misunderstanding rooted in an ethos of self-sacrifice and hard work that drives many people to the brink of mental and physical exhaustion, raises stress to unhealthy levels and puts pressure on relationships. There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but it’s critically important to take care of yourself … especially if you’re a hard worker. Taking time out for yourself helps keep your life in balance and your perspective in proportion.
If self-care makes you feel like you’re inconsiderate or not pulling your weight, try thinking of it as a healthful practice that can keep you active and effective at work and in your personal life.
Self-care does not have to mean spending a lot of money on yourself, spending time away from your family, or being pointedly self-indulgent. It’s all about taking care of yourself in every way that matters. If you find going for a long walk relaxing, then you should do it as often as you can. It also includes getting enough sleep, reducing stress, not committing to too many responsibilities, and just taking time to decompress. Personalize your self-care routine by emphasizing activities that are most meaningful to you.
If you tend to run down easily, then taking time to get extra sleep might be your greatest self-care need. If you have high blood pressure, exercise and relaxation may be your focus. Practicing effective self-care will help keep your life in balance. Avoiding activities that make you feel good can undermine self-confidence, sap your energy and negatively affect your performance at work. The sky’s the limit, so try something you know you’ll enjoy.
A little ‘you time’
Even if you’re a normally sociable person, there’s a lot of value in spending a little time just doing something by yourself. There may be an activity you enjoy that others don’t. Maybe your weeks are just too busy to allow for reading a book over a good cup of coffee, or perhaps you’re an avid bike rider but don’t get to do it as often as you’d like. The important thing is not to dismiss the need to indulge yourself once in a while. Not paying attention to your own needs can have long-term costs, even if you’re not aware of how it may be affecting you.
Try something new
Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve always wanted to but thought it’d just be a waste of valuable time. That’s a self-defeating mindset, and it means you need to rethink your priorities a bit. Have you always wondered about your ancestry? Why not do some digging and give genealogy a try? It’s one of the most popular hobbies on earth, and there’s an endless supply of free resources to help you get off to a good start. There are also many opportunities to take a class online, or even pursue a degree. If you have an interest in a particular subject, why not explore the possibility?
Meditative disciplines can help calm your mind and reduce stress. Best of all, meditation doesn’t take a lot of time, and you can do it without investing a bunch of money. Take a yoga class, or learn the discipline of meditation. Many people focus on a mantra, repeating a word or phrase over and over. Find a room in your home, a quiet spot where you can meditate in peace and comfort.
Self-care is an investment in your mental and physical well-being. If you can find a way to make it a priority, you’ll benefit mentally, physically and emotionally. You might even find a new passion that could transform your life.