Are you kind enough to yourself?

That might seem like a silly question, but when you dig down and really think about it, you might realize that you treat others with more care, concern, and kindness than you’ve ever treated yourself.

There’s a concept called “self care” that’s become more and more popular over the last few years, and for good reason. We all know that we’re supposed to look after our bodies to protect our physical health, but what about our metal and emotional health?

Self care is all about finding the things that make you feel encouraged, that make you feel looked after, and investing in those activities regularly.

This doesn’t have to be expensive or intense, it can be as simple as taking the time for a hot bath after a long day, or making sure to have your favorite kind of tea on hand in a stressful work environment.

We go out of our way to make sure those we love feel looked after, why can’t we do the same thing for ourselves?

Sometimes people attempt to meet the needs of family members, employers, children, friends, or society in general before meeting their own needs, and working to please and care for others often interferes with one’s self-care routine and can take a toll on a person’s well-being. People who have dependent personalities or experience depression, codependency, or anxiety may also fail to meet their self-care needs. However, self-care is often considered to be an important aspect of resiliency: those who are able to adequately meet their needs are often able to better cope with everyday stressors.

Because people who are able to meet their own physical and emotional needs are typically better equipped to care for others, it may be especially important for parents of children with behavioral challenges or other special needs to maintain a self-care routine. Fatigue, stress, anxiety, and worry may have a significant effect on well-being, but attending to physical and emotional needs may help prevent or reduce the effects of these issues, foster self-compassion, and leave parents more able to meet the needs of their child.

Self-care behaviors may also help mental health professionals and other health care providers avoid compassion fatigue, which can often result from work in a high-stress or traumatic environment and may lead to self-doubt, self-blame, and ethical or legal complications.

Individuals in a transition phase or those who are facing changing circumstances may neglect self-care. College students, for example, may experience excitement when first leaving home, but as they adjust to life in a different environment with new behaviors and responsibilities, they may experience significant stress, anxiety, and other emotional turmoil. However, those students who engage in behaviors that promote health—exercising, sleeping and eating well, and keeping in touch with loved ones—have been shown to face less stress during their transition, and research shows they are less likely to develop anxiety or depression or drop out. These self-care skills may also lead to resiliency that continues to have a positive effect throughout life.
– via www.goodtherapy.org

What Self Care Looks Like For YOU

We all need something different, and it takes time and care to figure out what that might be for you. But it’s more than worth it!

It also changes based on your situation, so if one day you feel best by taking a few quiet minutes outside to breathe in the fresh air, and the next you feel best by taking the evening to go see a movie by yourself, that’s great! Listen to your gut and find what you need most in the moment.

For some of us, it’s more of a physical need – like turning your phone off for an hour to take a nap. Or making sure to take your vitamins every day as an outward sign that you’re caring for yourself.

But for others, the need may be more emotional – like learning how and why to say “No.”

Here are a few great ideas for some “internal” self care – putting your own heart and mind at the forefront.

1. Start a compliments file. Document the great things people say about you to read later.

2. Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that’s been there for ages and you’ll never do.

3. Change up the way you make decisions. Decide something with your heart if you usually use your head. Or if you tend to go with your heart, decide with your head.

4. Go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.

5. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.

6. Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.

7. Goof around for a bit. Schedule in five minutes of “play” (non-directed activity) several times throughout your day.

8. Create a deliberate habit, and routinize something small in your life by doing it in the same way each day—what you wear on Tuesdays, or picking up the dental floss before you brush.

9. Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been nagging you—a button lost, a drawer that’s stuck, a light bulb that’s gone.

10. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute of awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.

11. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.

12. Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don’t love or regularly wear.

13. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email.

14. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just talking to a stranger at the bus stop.

15. Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. You can just “mute” them; you don’t have to delete them.
– via Tiny Buddha

Do you practice self care? What do you do regularly that’s just for your own sense of wellbeing?