For a lot of people, self-care is something that falls far down their list. Whether deliberately or not, people tend to focus their attention on friends and family. Directing compassion and care there is of course a most noble attribute, but are there implications for you? Not thinking about taking care of yourself can deplete your resources, leading to less chances to spend time doing what matters to you and brings happiness.
Strangely, when ‘self-care’ is mentioned, I have seen eye rolls and heard comments relating to self-care as self-indulgence. In fact, it’s a crucial part of looking after yourself.
In essence, self-care relates to the measures a person takes to promote their personal health – physically, mentally and emotionally. The most important take away here is that looking after yourself when you are well can help with managing stress and relationships.
Experiencing periods of stress is to be expected. What is not to be expected – and not acceptable – is experiencing a constant feeling of stress or anxiety that negatively impacts your health and well-being.
By actively supporting your health and wellbeing when well, you are putting yourself in the best position to manage life’s challenges, in turn helping to prevent chronic anxiety and burnout. If every now and then you do find yourself stressed, upset or overwrought, your background of self-care is likely to lead to a quicker recovery.
And a major benefit of self-care is that it allows you to take ownership of managing your basic needs and improving your life, rather than always feeling like life is happening ‘to’ you.
Self-care can be practised in an abundance of ways. There is no rule book. Some self-care steps that might work for you include being active, getting outdoors, sleeping well, avoiding unhealthy habits and/or meditating. Or your self-care could involve simply making your day easier. For example, you might batch cook meals on a weekend so you don’t have to worry about preparing food during the week.
If you’re reading this and thinking I just don’t have the time, make it. All it really takes to start is five minutes a day. Maybe next week or next month you might be able to stretch that to ten or 15 minutes.
Remember, it is not selfish to practise self-care, so prioritise yourself higher up your list. During flight demonstrations we are told to tend to our own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. The same is true for self-care. You will be better to yourself and everyone around you if you make a true effort to afford yourself self-care time.
Remember too, there is no gold-standard, one-size-fits-all approach to self-care. Your self-care routine will be completely personal, based on what calms you and what makes you feel good. Customising it so that it fits with your life is important.
A useful way to look at it is to consider your daily demands. If you are generally quite socially stimulated then perhaps you could focus on your emotional self-care.
In an ideal world, your self-care strategies will be in place and active before you reach a breaking point in your life. Spend time building your repertoire of positive responses to stressful situations you may encounter.
And, for once, show yourself the care and compassion you show others around you. I hope you will come to wonder why you don’t do it more often.
Sadhbh Dunne is a qualified life coach based in Westport. She is the founder of Ember Coaching (embercoaching.ie) and can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on www.mayonews.ie