Thoughts from this Therapist: Self Care is a Must for Everyone
Since autumn is upon us— the season where many suffer from increased depression and anxiety, now is a good time to talk about the importance of self care. Self care is often a touchy subject, because many of us have been taught misleading information about self care. It is a common misconception that self care either has to be done in a certain way or that taking time for yourself is selfish. Neither of these statements are true, so let’s explore what self care really is.
It is of the utmost importance that you remember taking space and time for self care is not selfish. Actually, it is the exact opposite of being selfish. By ensuring that you are practicing a good self care routine, you are doing your best to take care of yourself, allowing you the bandwidth to do all the things required of you.
So what is self care? There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question because self care can look different for everyone. The overall “easy” definition of self care is making time and space for you to participate in activities that you find relaxing and recharging. Only you, though, get to decide what that means.
Now, there are some things that will constitute as self care for everyone, since these activities meet our basic needs. Three top priorities include eating, hydrating, and sleeping. If we are not providing the proper nutrition and rest to our bodies then we are not going to function at our best, so make sure you get enough sleep for you and eat in a way that is healthy for you.
We also want to include hygiene here: never underestimate the power of a nice shower or bath. Personal hygiene activities will make you feel better both short and long term. Even if you feel you don’t have the time, it is important to take the few extra minutes to take care of yourself. You’ll thank yourself later.
Once we move out of the basics of self care, though, it really does look different for each individual. Not just the act itself, but also the frequency of practicing these self care activities. Obviously basic needs are daily items, but the others are all dependant on you and your needs. So let’s look at some common self care activities— although keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list, just a few ideas.
My personal favorite would be reading. Reading helps us grow our brains through imagination and knowledge. If you enjoy reading, it is a very relaxing activity and one that is pretty low energy if you are feeling tired. If you enjoy reading and talking to people, you could join a book club which can help expand your reading list and force you to take time for yourself and for the club meetings.
Exercise is a great form of self care for those who enjoy working out. The endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that come from exercising help you to feel relaxed and less stressed. Exercise doesn’t have to be going to the gym or classes or heavy intense workouts. You get to decide what you like, whether it be walking, dancing, yoga, or kickboxing; the choice is yours and you get to do what works for you and your schedule.
Regularly getting your hair and/or nails done can be a great way to find some time for yourself. Although for some people these activities may be stressful, they can also be beneficial. There are some great feelings that come from getting pampered. Maybe you could go get a massage, too, and make a day of it.
What about those who are creative and may not actually get enjoyment from these other activities? Well, you have options too. Writing, journaling, coloring, drawing, painting, crafting, making ceramics and numerous other creative activities are also great for self care time. They also have the added benefit of helping you process and let out whatever you are feeling. These two activities are great for everyone, at any age.
Scheduling time with friends and family is another great way to practice self care. Sometimes we just need to see another person outside of those we live and work with, so making time to get a cup of coffee or go shopping with someone important to us can be a great method for relaxing. Get creative: do an art night or go to a concert or some other fun activity with your friends to help you decompress a bit from the daily stresses of life.
Therapy is a great way to practice self care. Having a regularly scheduled therapy appointment means you are setting time aside to focus on yourself and your needs. Going to therapy regularly also helps keep you from holding stress inside, instead allowing you to offload it onto your therapist. And when you have a regular appointment you can make a ritual out of it and give yourself a little extra time to prepare before and then unwind after.
Self care does not have to be an extravagant activity. Honestly, as long as you are getting enjoyment and feeling relaxed after, you are doing it right. Remember that making time at least once a week for you to have uninterrupted self care time is going to make a huge difference in the amount of bandwidth you have to manage all of life’s stuff. Taking care of yourself means you are doing what you need for you so that you can be the best version of yourself.
Do you have other self care activities you love? Questions about self care? We'd love to hear from you! Let us know by leaving a comment below or tagging us on social media (@llctherapeutic on Twitter and @therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram).