The phrase is everywhere. Self-care. Practice it.
Ok. But… what exactly is it?
According to Raphailia Michael, MA, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.”
Just as importantly, she shares that self-care isn’t, “something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing… Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves…“
Many times, whether we want to recognize it or not, the way we care for others is directly related to how we want to be cared for. If we don’t take the time to care for ourselves, how can we possibly care for others in an effective and productive way?
With that in mind, how do you begin practicing self-care?
- Be intentional. As with most things in life, we can’t assume that we will automatically fall into caring for ourselves. We have to choose it. It isn’t really natural – especially for nurturers. Schedule time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but it needs to be yours.
- Define it. Nobody else can define what your self-care looks like. Just because Felicia says that her self-care is getting a monthly pedicure, that doesn’t mean it has to be the way you prefer to treat yourself. Maybe the thought of someone touching your feet makes you tense – that would not be a means of self-care for you. Torture, maybe, but not care.
- Protect it. Put boundaries around when you will do certain activities: checking e-mail, answering the phone, checking social media, watching the news… you know what brings your tension levels up, so what you should avoid.
Let’s go back to how this section began… practicing self-care. When learning a new skill, whether it be an instrument, a sport, or aptitude, practice is usually scheduled for a certain time each day and for a specific amount of time.
As Mission Impossible says, “your assignment, should you choose to accept it…” is to take some time to schedule your own self-care for the next 14 days. At the end of that two-week period, look back and decide what worked well for you, and what didn’t. Make some adjustments.
The parameters are yours to set. The only “rule” is that this time is about refueling you. Making you the best you, you can be for yourself and for others.
For a more in-depth view of self-care, you can read Ms. Michael’s full article, What Self-Care Is – and What It Isn’t, as published on PsychCentral’s Blog, here: https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt-2/