You hear a lot about self-care these days. But, research has found that a lot of people misunderstand what it means. A lot of people don’t feel they have enough time for an effective self-care plan.
Self-care is something you practice daily. It’s taking care of you mind, body and soul. A lot of people feel self-care is about making themselves better. That is not the case. Self-care is about nurturing yourself.
Self-Care Is A Nurturing Experience
Setting aside time for yourself, is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Even, if it’s only ten minutes. You are allowing yourself a nurturing experience.
This doesn’t mean that you aren’t being productive. This also doesn’t mean you are selfish. Unfortunately, society has taught you that. When you have an effective self-care plan you will feel better both, emotionally and physically.
Stress is the number one killer. People are busier than ever. This will eventually come out on your health. It will put you at a higher risk for depression, anxiety and heart disease. Just to name a few.
The good news is, you can start your self-care plan today. It won’t take a lot of time and it’s easy to start.
Here are 5 tips to develop a self-care plan today:
- Mental self-care. Are you able to express your feelings in healthy ways? We have found in therapy when you don’t express your feelings, you end up feeling stuck. It’s important to stay in touch with how you are feeling. This means it’s alright to talk about your problems with friends and family. You can also journal. What type of fun hobbies or activities do you have? Does work eat up most of your time? Work can keep you away from fun. This will eventually bring you down. Make sure you schedule mental self-care days, vacation and time to learn new things. Watch a funny video or movie. Laughing is great for the soul. All the better, if you are laughing with friends and family.
- Physical self-care. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest (7-9 hours is the recommendation). Eat plenty of healthy foods. Eating fresh foods is the best. Make sure you have plenty of fruits and vegetables. They are good with a meal or as a snack. Have lean protein and some carbs, as well. You also want to have some healthy fats. This is good for your brain and will help give you energy. Schedule time for exercise. You can go for a walk with a friend or to a yoga class. Make sure your exercise plan has exercise that you enjoy. Take care of personal hygiene. When you bathe regularly you feel better.
- Social self-care. Spend plenty of time with friends and family that you like. Being around positive people is good for you. Keep in touch with friends a family that don’t live near you. This will help you feel connected. Meet new people. Join a new group or invite a new friend out for coffee. Have stimulating conversations. This starts with asking questions and being a good listener. Make sure you ask for help when you need it. If you have a romantic partner, how much quality time do you spend together?
- Spiritual self-care. Spend time in meditation and prayer. This doesn’t always mean you are asking for something. This is something you need to engage in daily. This is good for your heart and mind. It is about being, rather than doing. Spend time in nature alone, or with friends and family. Stop and look at your surroundings. Notice how the trees protect you from the harsh sun. What gives meaning to you in your life? Write a list and see what you come up with. Appreciate the powerful impact art has on you and the world. Participate in a cause that is important to you. Don’t get caught up on the outcome, it’s the process that counts. Make sure you set aside plenty of time for thought and reflection.
- Professional self-care. How much time do you set aside to improve your professional skills? You could read a book or go to a workshop. Set limits at work. Say no to extra projects that will weigh down your workload. Take on projects that are stimulating and rewarding. Make time to build relationships with colleagues. Take breaks during the day. This will help clear your mind and make you more productive. Keep your personal and professional life balanced. Make sure your workspace is comfortable and organized. Advocate for fair pay and other needs in the workplace.
Self-care isn’t a one size fits all. Make sure you customize it to fit your needs. Start with small steps. Meaning allow ten minutes a day for your self-care plan. You will feel better almost immediately.
Start by accessing your self-care plan. Are you a busy mom? If that’s the case, you may want to start with physical self-care. Not that you aren’t moving around all the time taking care of the family. But, you may enjoy a yoga class away from the family, to help you feel energized.
Are you retired? If that’s the case, you may want to start with social self-care. It’s important to stay connected to others. You can volunteer or invite a friend out for coffee.
You don’t have to tackle everything at once. Allow yourself time and go easy on yourself. If you don’t, you are putting your mental & physical health at risk.
If you liked this article there are more in, Taking Care of Yourself. It is filled with helpful tips that will help you reduce stress in your life, and feel better about yourself.
Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.