By DeAnna Pearl, MAT, BS, CPS, SOS Tillamook Prevention Program Specialist
For anyone who’s been looking for a good reason to treat yourself consider this: You probably don’t do it often enough, and putting “me time” on the back burner is a big part of why we can all feel run-down, frenzied, and overwhelmed. Self-care, to the rescue!
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self-care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.
First Care for Yourself
On an airplane, an oxygen mask drops in front of you. What do you do? As we all know, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It is also one of the easiest things to forget. But you benefit greatly from self-care and so do others in your life.
Since self-care is a very individual thing, there’s no set prescription for how or when to do it. That said, mental health professionals recommend taking at least 20 minutes a day to do something for ourselves, which seems pretty darn reasonable to us. Lost for ideas? Don’t fret. We’ve rounded up some sweet strategies that’ll help slash stress, boost happiness, and improve total health. Practice any of these self-care behaviors (or any others that occur to you!) daily, weekly, or even hourly—whatever feels best to you.
Why is Self-Care Important for Women?
Women spend much of their lives nurturing others. When we find ourselves focusing more on others than ourselves, we become worn out, stressed out and run down. For those of us who spend time helping and caring for others, it is too easy to neglect our own needs. It’s like “running on empty” when we don’t take the time to re-fuel. We spend so much time and effort caring for our partners, children, pets, friends, family members, employers and employees. Add to that the numerous volunteer activities, errands, housework, family functions, meetings, etc.—and there isn’t much time left for caring for ourselves.
Women need to balance the stress and activity of daily life with activities that bring a sense of peace and wellbeing to their minds and bodies. Women who neglect their own needs and forget to nurture themselves often become unhappy, have low self-esteem and feel resentment. Self-care means treating yourself as a worthwhile person and showing that you are valuable, competent and deserving.
We cannot take care of others, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves – include self-care into your daily routines with these helpful ideas:
- Take one thing at a time. •Solve little problems. •Be realistic. •Be flexible. •Adopt a positive attitude. •Avoid over-scheduling. •Learn to relax. • Treat your body well. •Adopt a healthy lifestyle. •Eat healthy food. •Exercise. •See your doctors regularly. •Get enough sleep as often as you can. • Take time off when you are sick. •Watch what you are thinking. • Share your feelings. •Talk about stress with friends and family. •Talk to a doctor, spiritual advisor, or other professional for help. •Learn to ask for help. • Be aware of your limitations. •Personalize your work and home environment.
- Take time for self-reflection. • Say “no.” •Limit your exposure to media (e.g., news stories, movies) that deals with sad, violent, or tragic themes.