The Reality of Self-Care

So, how well do you look after yourself?

Before you answer that, answer this – do you look after yourself?

Now, your immediate response is probably to guffaw. Of course, I look after myself! What an absurd question!

Is it really that absurd?

List all of the ways you act in order to look after yourself.

That’s where it gets tricky.

Self-care has to be deliberate. It’s a deliberate act that you carry out to positively influence your emotional, physical or mental health. It’s a simple concept. Which is why it’s so frustrating to discover just how many people overlook it.

Practicing self-care can help you relieve anxiety, improve your mood, and even improve the relationships you have with others (and yourself).

It’s just as important that you know what self-care isn’t.

Self-care shouldn’t be something that you force yourself to do. It shouldn’t be something you don’t enjoy. It should be something that adds to you, not takes away from you. Self-care is not selfish. It isn’t just about thinking about your needs, but knowing exactly what is necessary to meet those needs. By doing this you act in your best interest and you’re also taking steps to improve the lives of others, too. By taking care of yourself, you will be better at taking care of others. See, it’s simple?

If you want to live a balanced life, then self-care is an important piece of the puzzle. So, where do you start? There are three rules when it comes to making self-care a reality.

  1. The Basics
    You don’t have to complicate things too much as you get started. You’ll slip into a rhythm and routine in time. As you do this you will identify more acts of self-care that work for you and you can implement these as you uncover them.
  2. Active Planning
    You have to plan your acts of self-care. Self-care won’t just happen if you don’t go out of your way to do it. Self-care must be an active choice that you make, you have to treat it this way. Add activities to your diary, announce plans in advance to make it stick, and look for new and interesting opportunities to practice self-care.
  3. Conscious Mind
    If you don’t view it as self-care, then it’s not going to serve you the way self-care should. Be more aware of what actions or decisions you make, why you make them, how they feel, and the outcome of them, too.

It means different things to everyone, but the reality of self-care is that a basic checklist is one-size-fits-all.

• Write out a list of things you know you don’t want to do. So, it could be attending parties you can’t stand, answering your phone during meals or checking your inbox outside of working hours. If you don’t like it… don’t do it.

• Follow a healthy, balanced diet.

• Sleep well.

• Exercise regularly – be sure to mix up cardio and strength exercises.

• Visit your doctor for checkups. If there are certain tests required for your age group, then make sure you take care of them as required.

• Practice meditation, yoga or deep breathing.

• Spend time with the people you love.

• Do something every day that provides you with relaxation.

• Do at least one thing every day that you love.

• Take every opportunity to laugh.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. However, the checklist above is the bare minimum of self-care. This is something that we should all be doing in a bid to properly care for ourselves.

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