What Is Self Care and Why Is It Important?Reading Time: 7 minutes
Adulthood comes with responsibilities, expectations that can put a lot of pressure on an individual and if care is not taken, one may crumble under such weight. There is no manual on how to make the most out of life as an adult or how to navigate its demands. The world is full of many adults still figuring out life for themselves. One common fantasy among many adults is the wishful thinking of going back to their younger years when they had fewer responsibilities and no one to care for but themselves. To have the best quality of life, everyone must strive to find a balance and incorporate self care into their lifestyle.
What is Self Care
Self care goes beyond personal hygiene and regular practices of self grooming; showering, eating and sleeping. It simply is anything you do or avoid doing, which helps you be the best version of yourself. It entails being kind to yourself and knowing when you need to stop and recoup so as not to burn out.
It is important to remember that everyone’s journey in life is unique, so your self care practices must be tailored to your needs. What works for someone else may not be what you need in your life right now or ever.
Not everything that feels good is considered as self care. For example, some people engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, overeating, illicit drug use, binge drinking. These practices may make an individual feel good temporarily, however, they are highly detrimental to their well being, both in the short and long term.
Why is Self Care Important?
It is not selfish or inconsiderate to care for one’s self. You can not give what you do not have. In-fact, what you project into your environment and unto people around you reflects right back at you. If you project stress, frustration, exhaustion into your environment, then these will come back to you in good measure. It then becomes a vicious cycle.
The fact is that self care gives you the peace, physical and mental energy to be effective and improves your quality of life. By projecting positive energy into your environment others benefit from your energy as well.
9 Commandments Of Self Care
Here are a list of effective self care practices that will help improve your quality of life. It may be difficult or even take some time to fully master some of them. However, consciously incorporating them into your daily life will yield the desired results with time and practice.
1. Prioritize Yourself
Today’s society extols selflessness and compassion. Everyone is taught to be selfless and compassionate towards others. These are great virtues but it is expedient to balance selflessness and self care. When people around you; family, including your spouse and children, friends and colleagues observe you have not mastered this balance, they may take advantage of you and stretch you to exhaustion.
If anyone solicits your help, always ensure you can afford to, based on your resources, time and necessity of the request. Above all think about how it affects you in the long run no matter the type of relationship you have with the individual. If they love you, they will appreciate your wellbeing. An advantage is that, prioritizing your self ensures that you are in the best frame of mind and health to engage your environment.
Realistically, once in a while you may need to make sacrifices for the people in your life, however, it should not be common practice or you’ll burn yourself out.
2. Guard Your Social Circle
Not everyone around you needs to be in your life, who you let into your inner circe determines the course of your life. Only connect and engage with people that share the same values as you do and who also help improve your quality of life. From time to time, re-evaluate everyone in your circle to determine the value of your relationships with them.
Sometimes a relationship may run its full course and stop fulfilling their purpose, be strong enough to end them. It does not make you selfish, it just means it is time to make room for other people and new relationships. Don’t wear yourself out maintaining a draining relationship. Try to end all toxic and exhausting relationships no matter how long you have been in them.
3. Do Not Engage Everything and Everyone
Not everything requires your input. Learn to ignore or delegate certain issues that may be demanding your attention. When an issue arises, always ask the following questions; What is at stake? Should I be doing this? Am I the best person to handle this? Do I have the resources, time and energy to? Is there nobody else that can do this? What is the consequence of not doing this? Do I want to? Your answers to these questions will determine if you should proceed or not. You must not engage everything or everyone that demands your attention.
4. Know Your Limits
You can not do everything. Whether at home or at work, learn to ask for help when you need it. Speak up if you are being asked to do more than you can handle. It is important to establish what your strengths and weaknesses are and engage them appropriately. Pushing yourself in order to appear strong and resilient may end up exposing your weakness, further frustrating you.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
We often are our harshest critics. Many times we blame ourselves for things we have no control over. If you have given anything your best and it still turns our below your expectations, forgive yourself, you did all you could. If possible give it another shot at another time when you are less frustrated. If not move on and forget about it. There is always a lesson in failure, who knows it may be the learning experience you needed for the task. Do not dwell in self deprecation, it will drain you mentally and physically. Instead, celebrate your victories no matter how small. Always remember there are things you are great at and concentrate on them.
6. Learn To Say No
Learn to say No and mean it! No is a word people often dread saying or receiving, however, it can be important and life preserving to say it. When you feel pushed to your limit, or you feel something or someone may be crossing the boundaries you put in place, say no and stand by it. Saying no does not make you a bad person, it is self preservation.
Many people say yes to things they should have rejected and end up regretting it. Say no to anything that jeopardizes your health, time and mental health. You must not honor every event invitation or grant every request. You can not make everyone happy.
7. Take Care Of Your Health
Health is wealth. Eating right, getting good sleep, being physically active are all ways to ensure you lead a healthy lifestyle. Research has shown that failure to care for one’s self increases their risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases among others.
Prioritize your sleep. Sleep is very important to your wellbeing, every adults needs 8 solid hours of sleep everyday to function effectively.
Exercise is also very important, the recommended amount of exercise is, at least 30 minute per day for at least 5 days per week.
Find ways to relieve stress daily, e.g yoga, meditation, prayers, having some alone time, listening to your favorite music.
Get a medical check up at least once a year and take your medications as prescribed if you are on any. These days there are lots of information on the internet on wellness, you may benefit from researching them carefully to discover what works for you.
8. Learn To Laugh
Laughter is the best medicine and it is free! The brain releases some feel good hormones called endorphins when you laugh. Laughter relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, relieves stress, improves emotional health, protects the heart against heart diseases.
Smiling and laughing with people endears you to them and makes you approachable. Make conscious efforts to laugh at least 5 times or 15 minutes a day. Seek out the activities that incite you to laughter; a TV show, comedy sketch, speaking with friends and family, talking to your pet (it is not weird at all). Whatever it may be, ensure you have laughter in your life daily.
9. Stay Socially Connected
Communicating and connecting with others are essential to our survival as humans. Nowadays, people are living an increasingly isolated and busy lifestyle. It is possible to be so busy to the extent that one forgets to connect with their support network. Studies have shown that people who have a good support system have better quality of life and less risk of suicide.
There are several ways to ensure your social relationships do not suffer; call or text family and friends, visit places together, stay in touch with them over social media (careful not to overdo it!), meet new people by volunteering for tasks in your community or signing up for new adventures e.t.c
Love yourself, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, take some me-time and enjoy your own company, compliment yourself from time to time, celebrate every victory and dare to live.