11 Mar What Is Self Care And Why It’s Important
Self Care Is The Key To Caring For Others
Self care was presented to me in a whole new way the first time I ever flew on a plane, which was over 25 years ago. It was close to take off, and I was feeling extremely nervous and fearful of the thought of this plane leaving the ground. The stewardess stood in the aisle and starting to explain the steps everyone needed to take in case of an emergency. I was only half paying attention due to already feeling extremely anxious about flying. Her comments about the possibilities of something going wrong while in flight weren’t helping. However, her speech became a distraction for my anxiety as I started to listen to her description on how to use the oxygen mask if needed.
Is The Stewardess Crazy?!
I remember feeling confused by her instructions and totally disagreed with her. The stewardess had just explained if you are sitting with a child, you would put your mask on first, and then take the time to place the mask on your child. I remember thinking, “no way, she must be wrong”. I didn’t have children at the time. How could it not make more sense to make sure they were safe before looking out for yourself? Today, I am a mother of two young children, and realize that I was wrong. Through time, experience and education, I learned and fully believe, “you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else, including your children”. I understand not everyone, especially parents, understand this. Some may just out right disagree with it. But, they are wrong, just as I was 25 years ago.
This Needs To Be Looked Into More
If you look it up, you will find a variety of different examples and definitions as to what self care actually is. I perceive self care as, “a mindful effort to take time and care of yourself”. It doesn’t matter if you’re are an adolescent, young adult, middle aged, or older adult. Self care needs to be a priority in your daily life if you want to live a life of freedom and happiness. If you are a parent, self care is desperately needed in order for you to have the patience and energy to raise your children on a daily basis.
In my profession, I continue to meet individuals who are struggling with increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and different forms of mental health problems. Parents and children alike; self care is a huge part of what is missing in their lives. Parents, especially moms, have a tendency to focus on the care of others. They allow themselves to constantly be pulled in different directions. This leads to becoming exhausted, frustrated, stressed, and at times resentful. Part of being a good parent is proactively participating in self care.
Change That Inner Voice
As I previously stated, self care can mean different things to different people. Yet there are certain examples of self care that will benefit all individuals’ mental, emotional and physical health. Many of us are in the daily habit of judging ourselves. We put ourselves down, and constantly focusing on the mistakes we have made along the way. This negative inner voice can start at a young age and continue into adulthood. As we become parents, this terrible habit is usually just amplified. This ends up taking a toll on our mental health.
Self care for Mental Health:
Talk to yourself with compassion and kindness. This is one of the most important self care practices you should be doing. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. If you have been practicing years of judgment and self-criticism, you may find it difficult to get to a place of self-love and acceptance. It can be done. It’s never too late to start implementing healthy habits, while discontinuing unhealthy ones. Neuroplasticity proves that our brains have the ability to continue changing and developing throughout our lives. By changing our negative inner voice, we can start to experience a more positive thought process. When this starts happening, it can have a positive effect on other important areas in our lives, including communication and relationship dynamics.
Self care for Emotional Health:
Over and over again it’s proven that getting enough sleep each night is incredibly beneficial. If you know you can’t function productively on less than 7 hours of sleep, then you need to actively work on getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night. Emotional self care is recognizing what your triggers and limits are. If you are able to identify them, you will be able to take an active role in decreasing your daily stress level.
You also need to recognize what inspires you and makes you happy. This could be as simple as going to see a movie, taking a walk out in nature, or having dinner with close friends. Another important component of emotional self care is, “taking time to just be”. Technology and society are moving at a very fast pace, and it’s having unhealthy affects on our emotional health. We all should be making an effort each day to take time to disconnect from everything, and just breathe. This can be as easy as taking random breaks throughout the day to breathe mindfully for just a minute or two.
Self care for Physical Health:
Staying physically active need not be overwhelming. Start with simple activities like choosing to walk more. Parking farther from a store entrance is an easy way to increase walking. Choose stairs over an elevator if it’s only a few floors. Of course running, weight training and routine workouts are great too. The most important aspect is to do exercise consistently. Try 3 days a week, and you’ll greatly increase possible prevention of heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and even certain forms of cancer. These are all benefits that your physical body will experience from staying physically active.
As important as physical activity is for your body, it is also beneficial for your mental and emotional self. Exercise and staying physically active relieves tension and stress. It also enhances your over-all well-being, due to the endorphins that are released when you’re being active. We are not medical professionals, so please always consult your doctor or health care provider before starting an exercise regimen.
One Size Does Not Fit All
As you can see, there are many examples of common self care activities that will benefit anyone who starts to apply them. Our mental, emotional and physical health are all connected, which means each self care method we apply will benefit all aspects of our health. There are many common self care practices to benefit all beings. Choose what feels and works best for you individually. We all have unique personalities and interests.
One of my top choices for self care is Meditation. I choose to practice this in the morning in order to start my day with the mental and emotional benefit that I feel after I meditate. I also know many people who choose to start their morning listening to music. They dance around their house while getting ready for their day. Two totally different self care methods, yet both will have a healthy benefit on the individual who is participating in it.
Most important steps to remember after deciding that it’s time to put yourself as a priority in your life:
- Pay attention to your inner voice and what it is saying to you on a daily basis.
- Decrease the criticizing voice, while increasing the kind and compassionate one.
- Participate in at least 1 physical, emotional and mental self care act a day.
- Know and understand what your interests are and what makes your heart happy.
- Schedule time to implement your interests and what makes you happy into your life.
- Always focus on getting the amount of sleep that you need to be your best self.
The real first step in changing anything, is deciding that you are going to make a change. People decide to make changes in their lives every day, and yet continue to struggle and feel unhealthy or unhappy. Once we recognize that the real change needs to come from within us, we can start the journey of self care. If you are a mother or individual that has the responsibility for caring for others, in or outside of your home, self care has to start now. Remember, this is not a selfish act, you will only become better at caring for others, once you start learning to care for yourself first.