Self-Care 101: Understanding the Basics

this entry is by guest author Brad Krause:

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We’ve all heard the term self-care in conversations with friends, doctors, co-workers or family members—but do we really know what it means? Self-care is more than just managing our health by taking the time to practice good hygiene or exercise regularly—though those are important parts. Self-care is about taking deliberate action to show compassion and consideration to ourselves, making healthy choices for our physical and mental well-being.

 

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? In reality, however, self-care can be very hard to prioritize. There are pressures and expectations in our society that can force self-care decisions to the bottom of our to-do lists. Self-care begins with showing love for yourself, which improves our feelings of self-worth and self-acceptance. Not sure where to begin? Start with these simple suggestions:

 

  • Create a meditation space: Whether you transform an entire room or just a quiet corner, a space designed for meditation is a powerful self-care tool. Studies show that meditating for as few as 10 minutes a day reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Sleep is crucial for healthy brain function, including concentration, decision-making and productivity. Commit to a bed time that gives you at least 7 to 9 hours. Go to bed 15 minutes early to give yourself time to relax and get comfortable.
  • Say no: Your list of responsibilities is long, so self-care sometimes means saying no to some items on your to-do list as well as other people’s requests. If your coworker asks you to take on an assignment that will increase not only your workload, but also your stress load, give yourself permission to say no. It might be painful at first, but when you overcommit yourself, the quality of your work suffers, not to mention the quality of your life.
  • Reduce stress: In our overbooked lives, many of us operate at full steam all day, every day. There is an intense amount of stress that comes with living out of our sympathetic nervous system—more commonly known as fight or flight. This means we are regularly dealing with life from a place of heightened stress. Taking more time to relax—in general and in the moment—can reduce stress, and reducing stress can help you avoid negative behaviors many people use as coping mechanisms. Practice breathing deeply and with intention in high-stress situations. Let go of harmful, negative emotions that damage your self-esteem. You can also reduce your overall feelings of stress by practicing yoga, exercising regularly, getting a massage and meditating daily.
  • Do something you enjoy: At least once a day, carve out time to do something you really enjoy. It can be as simple as enjoying a cup of your favorite coffee on your back porch to grabbing lunch at your favorite downtown deli. Take at least 30 minutes out of your day — every day — to focus on doing something simple you enjoy.
  • Get rid of clutter: Live in a space full of meaning and intention by removing unnecessary distractions from your home—and your mind. Get your home organized to feel a sense of openness and freedom, while also eliminating the stress of having to rummage through five different catch-all drawers until you find an extra battery.
  • There’s an app for that: Download a self-care app on your phone, one that encourages you to pause, breathe and think. The use of these apps surged in 2017, showing that developing mindfulness strategies and letting go of stress are common goals in our lives.

 

When we prioritize care and concern inward, we are far better at extending it outward. Self-care encourages us to do more than simply live life, but to also enjoy life. We can find strength to live to our potential and always be on course with our true purpose when we prioritize self-care.

– article by Brad Krause