It’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves because when we’re busy and overwhelmed, even a small reprieve feels like a luxury. Our bodies are less capable of handling stress that comes our way when we’re already depleted by physical and emotional exhaustion.
Self-care is important for maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It produces positive feelings, which improves confidence and boosts self-esteem. Having an approach to living incorporating behaviours that refresh you, replenish your personal motivation, and help you grow as a person are vital for maintaining energy levels, as well as concentration and overall wellness.
An essential aspect of self-love, exercising self-care means treating yourself with the same kindness and respect that you would treat others and can be broken down into physical, mental/emotional and spiritual components.
Mental and emotional self-care can sometimes be more complex as there is no one size fits all approach. When you’re feeling any kind of intense emotion - stress, anger or helplessness - it helps to take a quick break to process it. What exactly are you feeling, and why? Running down a list of words associated with feelings may help to better pinpoint your emotion. Activities such as getting a massage, taking a relaxing bath, and taking some time to be alone with your thoughts can be helpful ways to improve your mental and emotional wellness.
Keeping a journal is also a good idea as it is cathartic and may help with coping with traumatic, stressful or emotional events. Emotional hygiene requires you to dedicate the time to your feelings you can remain in control of them as a means of acknowledging and understanding them.
Spiritual self-care means connecting with yourself or a Higher Power to find a meaning to our lives. Just as it is necessary to take care of our body and mind, we also need to nurture our soul. You may find it helpful to develop a regular meditation routine, or practice using mindfulness to stay aware of the present moment. Focusing your mind on positive ideas will help you visualise and be present in the moment. Practicing gratitude, spending time in nature, and staying alert of the non-material aspects of your life will help you identify what is meaningful to you.
You may come across many spiritual paths and system, or choose to carve your own path to find meaning. Regardless, a certain amount of effort and discipline are essential for maintaining spiritual self-care. Because it is all the more important among the chaos we have around us, developing habits consciously will help to bring out the calm in you.
Physical self-care is perhaps the most obvious, with regular exercise and movement prime examples. Maintaining an active lifestyle can help boost your immune system as it increases endorphins (the ‘happy’ hormone), reduces stress, and can increase your self-confidence. With diet also playing a huge role in your physical well-being, maintaining one that is full of nutrients, essential vitamins and minerals will have positive effects on your mental and emotional wellness. Processed foods, dairy, and unhealthy snacks should be kept to a minimum.
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