Are you biting off more than you can chew? Are you constantly feeling rushed, or did you recently feel like you are just existing, not living? Well, maybe it's time to slow down and smell the roses along the way. Slow and steady surely wins the race. Making small steps a day towards the betterment of your well-being might have a more profound effect than waking up one day and deciding to change your whole lifestyle.
What does taking care of yourself really mean? Contrary to popular belief, self-care isn't always about escaping and relaxing. It's not all about massages, manicures, and power walks in the evening. Yes, those can be and are part of self-care, but it covers much more than just pampering oneself. Selfcare is more of choosing to create a life you don't have to escape from and allowing yourself to be normal instead of constantly pushing to be exceptional (Cohen, 2021).
Well, self-care might involve tough and uncomfortable decisions like setting boundaries, challenging people, and saying no. Setting boundaries is crucial in establishing one's identity and essential to one's physical and mental health (Selva, 2021). Healthy boundaries help people define and reinforce their identities and help indicate what they will hold themselves accountable for and what they will not be responsible for. It's bound to give one anxiety, but it is beneficial to oneself in the long run.
Self-care can sometimes be putting yourself first above activities that drain you. It involves investing in activities that truly replenish you, whether that is journaling or reading, singing your heart out, spending time with friends, or investing in hobbies. It involves a process of identifying your own personal boundaries for how you prioritize self-care in your approach to doing your job or to contributing to your family and community.
It is being realistic and honest with yourself about what you are committed to and are able to invest in and what you are not. There may be life situations or life or work expectations you need to meet that exceed your boundaries. This requires good systems around your time and energy and pacing of these activities to ensure you can sustain self-care and keep moving forward on your personal goals.
Self-care can sometimes be putting yourself above people who drain you. It can entail reflecting on your personal and professional boundaries so you can better articulate them to others. It can entail identifying people you are able to invest in and build a relationship with because they respect and can hear your boundaries and you respect and can hear theirs. It can be identifying in each of your relationships that you choose to invest in where you need to more directly communicate your boundaries and create room for others to communicate their boundaries so you can see if you can find solid ground together that works for you both.
Selfcare is not selfish. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so you have to care for yourself to care for others. It is vital in building the resilience required to fight the stressors you cannot eliminate in your life. Self-care is your armor and ammunition when life hands you lemons. It's okay to break from your daily life and just breathe. Take that long walk home, get yourself that relaxing massage, or lose yourself in that exciting film. You can also sit with yourself and listen to your body and thoughts.
Self-care is all about living a meaningful and fulfilling life. It is about keeping your eyes on your prize, your purpose, what you feel most inspired to do and to bring to yourself, to your family and friends and to your community. It requires making time and plugging yourself into activities, rhythms and routines that help you sustain a life of thriving and that give you an overflow of energy to fuel your passions and your purpose.
Cohen, I. S. (2021, April 23). What It Really Means to Take Care of Yourself. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-emotional-meter/202104/what-it-really-means-take-care-yourself
Selva, J. (2021, 12 8). How to Set Healthy Boundaries: 10 Examples + PDF Worksheets. Retrieved from Positive Psychology: https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.