Self-Care is Not Selfish | A Guide: How to practice Self-Care
Often times, when we do something for ourselves, it is considered selfish. Growing up it is common to be taught to take care of other people and put others first. However, when it comes to our mental and emotional health, these types of actions of neglecting yourself to put others first can have huge consequences.
Self-care can be confusing and it can make you feel like you are putting too much attention on yourself. But remember, self-care never has and never will be selfish, especially when it comes to mental health.
In order to take care of other people, you must take care of yourself first.
Why Self-Care is Important
Self-Care is one of the most important things that a person can do for themselves. It is not only vital for your physical health, but also your emotional and mental health as well.
There are many misconceptions around self-care and what exactly it entails. However, self-care is really not that complicated. At the most basic level,
self-care is just doing good things for yourself. This could be anything from working out, to taking an hour every night to journal, anything that makes you feel good.
Self-care requires you to know and understand yourself. You are forced to listen to your body and mind, understand what resources are running low and what you have to do to replenish them.
There are many benefits that come with performing self-care. Some of them include increased productivity, improved resistance to illnesses & better physical health are just a few. These benefits are just the beginning. Some of the other, more personal benefits are, enhanced self-esteem, increased self-knowledge, and most importantly, you have more to give to other people.
When you are mindful about reguarily carving out time for yourself and making sure that your physical, emotional, and mental needs are being met, you will feel better in all aspects of your life.
This makes it easier for you to work with and help others in their time of need. Just like when you are on an airplane, you have to take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.
Stigma Around Self-Care
Self-care can be hard, not only because of the stigma that surrounds it, but because it can be extremely difficult to admit that you need help or to take care of yourself when you are struggling with your own mental health.
Growing up, it is extremely common to hear that you should put others before yourself. Kids are taught that being too vain or thinking about yourself is selfish. When you take time to take care of yourself, friends and family may start to get frustrated or say that you need to spend more time thinking about others and spending time with them.
However, the worst stigma, is self-stigma. The voice in your head that tells you to stop focusing on yourself, saying that you don’t deserve the time or attention that you are giving yourself.
You start to think about all of the things that you are neglecting and the people who deserve your attention more. However, this self-stigma, and any outside stigma, is far from true.
By taking care of yourself you are making sure that you will be able to help and encourage others.
How you can Take Care of Yourself
Self-care can be difficult because of the stigma that comes with it. However, understanding how, and being able to take care of yourself is one of the strongest things that you can do.
It is also important to distinguish between the things that actually make you feel good and things that you think make you feel good, but often have the reverse effect, like drugs & alcohol, over-eating, and taking risks.
There are many different types of self-care; the most well-known is physical self-care. When people say that they are trying to take care of themselves this is often what they mean.
Physical self-care can be helpful not only for your physical health but also to help you let off steam. This doesn’t have to be going to the gym, it can also mean dancing around the house to your favorite song, doing yoga, or going outside and going for a walk. This could also be taking a nap when you need some extra rest or giving yourself a break when you are down or unwell.
However, while physical health is important and this type of self-care can make a huge difference, it can also be harmful to your mental health if you focus on your physical self too much and too often. Working out and getting the ‘perfect’ body isn’t what self-care is all about.
It is vital to remember the other parts of yourself that need to be taken care of, make sure that you aren’t focusing on the outer-self to avoid taking care of your inner-self.
Sensory self-care helps to calm the mind. This will help you to live in the moment, focus better, and let go of the past and forget your anxieties.
This type of self-care is all about sight, smell, touch, and sound. This could be considered sitting outside at the beach, enjoying the feeling of the water on your skin from a shower or a bath, or listening to calming music. Anything that helps you feel calm and relaxed.
Emotional self-care is only effective when you fully engage with your emotions. This could mean taking a daily journal and being completely honest about your feelings. Make time to be with people who truly understand you.
Let yourself cry when you need to or watch something that will make you laugh. It is very important to remember that no emotions or feelings are “good” or “bad”, you are not to blame for your emotions, just how you react to them.
Spiritual self-care can be tricky, especially if someone is not religious. This is all about getting in touch with what really matters to you and your most important values. Meditation and mindfulness are great ways to start a spiritual self-care journal.
Start to remove habits that you have that don’t line up with your values, and start working to remove negativity from your life. Make a daily list of things that you are grateful for and make an effort to go outside, put away technology, and just enjoy the nature around you.
Social self-care is one of the most underrated but also most important types of self-care. This can look different from person to person depending on if you are an introvert or extrovert, however it is important for us all.
Connecting with other people can help us combat loneliness, depression, and can make us feel good. It is important to remember to surround yourself with people who inspire you, and make you feel good about yourself and your actions.
This can be as easy as picking up the phone to catch up with a close friend or planning an outing with your family. Anything that makes you feel connected to other people.
You shouldn’t feel drained or depressed after any of these experiences, they are meant to be rejuvenating and inspiring, giving you a sense of warmth and wholeness. Self-care is not one size fits all, it changes from person to person.
Try out different techniques, and have fun doing it. It will take time for you to learn what works best for you, but the only way to learn, is to start trying.
Quotes & Affirmations on Self-Care
Here are some quotes and affirmations that can help inspire you on this journey through self-care:
- I can and will treat myself with compassion
- I believe in who I am
- The time I take for myself is special
- I take care of the world when I take care of myself
- “Take time to do what makes your soul happy.” – Unknown
- “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Unknown
- “When we self-regulate well, we are better able to control the trajectory of our emotional lives and resulting actions based on our values and sense of purpose.” – Amy Leigh Mercree
- “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown
- “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” – Etty Hillesum
- “Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” – Christopher Germer