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What Self-Care Is — and What It Isn’t

It’s Mental Health Month and what better opportunity than to embed a practice this month, that will become a habit if you practice consistently, and that is self care. But first let’s examine what is self care and what it isn’t.

When asked the question: “Do you take care of yourself?” most of us will answer “yes” — we’d even think, “What kind of question is this? Of course, I care about myself.”

When asked, “In what ways do you take care of yourself?” — well, that’s where the tricky part begins.

What is self-care?

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook.

Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.

What isn’t self-care?

Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing.

Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, being subsequently, able to take care of others as well. That is, if I don’t take enough care of myself, I won’t be in the place to give to my loved ones either.

In a few words, self-care is the key to living a balanced life

Where do you start? Well, there are three golden rules:

Stick to the basics. Over time you will find your own rhythm and routine. You will be able to implement more and identify more particular forms of self-care that work for you.

Self-care needs to be something you actively plan, rather than something that just happens. It is an active choice and you must treat it as such. Add certain activities to your calendar, announce your plans to others in order to increase your commitment, and actively look for opportunities to practice self-care.

Although self-care means different things to different people, there’s a basic checklist that can be followed by all of us:

Create a “no” list, with things you know you don’t like or you no longer want to do. Examples might include: Not checking emails at night, not attending gatherings you don’t like, not answering your phone during lunch/dinner.

Promote a nutritious, healthy diet.

Get enough sleep. Adults usually need 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Exercise. In contrast to what many people think, exercise is as good for our emotional health as it is for our physical health. It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. In line with the self-care conditions, what’s important is that you choose a form of exercise that you like!

Follow-up with medical care. It is not unusual to put off checkups or visits to the doctor.

Use relaxation exercises and/or practice meditation. You can do these exercises at any time of the day.

Spend enough time with your loved ones.

Spent time working on what gives your life meaning and purpose – volunteer, take up a hobby, practice gratitude.

Keep Your Finances Organised – learn to like money, heal if necessary. Practice good financial housekeeping. Learn to invest, join an investing club, donate to your favourite charity. Understand the cycle of financial wellbeing

Do at least one relaxing activity every day, whether it’s taking a walk or spending 30 minutes unwinding.

Do at least one pleasurable activity every day; from going to the cinema, to cooking or meeting with friends.

Look for opportunities to laugh!

Set up a 15-day self-care routine and see how you feel before and after. And never forget: As with everything, self-care takes practice!

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