The Importance of Practicing Self-Care
Self Care is a term that is being thrown around in every job field and every walk of life as being a newfound necessity that has actually always been there. In this age of technology and endless lists and overscheduling, we all fall prey to stress and feeling a bit out of our depth far more often that we would like. Due to all of this desire to be as successful as possible as soon as possible, we now find ourselves in a culture where living with stress is normal; but it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s take a look at the importance of practicing self-care.
But isn’t self-care the same as just being really selfish?
NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! Self-care is continually being termed as being the equivalent of being selfish, but that simply isn’t the case. It also shouldn’t ever be termed as something that is inconsiderate; though I know – if you live a very active, social life – this can be hard to believe. I have been right where you are right now. My first three years of college I was hyper-focused on getting through and getting high grades in order to keep my scholarships and making it through college so that I can get a good job at the end of my academic journey that I didn’t ever stop to smell the roses or take any time for myself.
Feeling the need for self-care
This all came to a head when I had anxiety fueled panic attack that almost put me in the hospital. It felt like my heart was leaping out of my chest and my head was spinning; followed by what felt like an eon of crying for no easily viewable reason. After this happened, I knew that I had to make a change. At first, I started out simple. I started by taking my technology and putting it away for a few hours every day in order to spend a little less time online – where all I was feeling was FOMO and feeling as if I wasn’t doing enough. By turning off the technology there felt like there was a weight lifted off my shoulders.
Establishing a routine
The second straightforward step that I took was taking the time to solidify a beauty routine. Feeling good about yourself – for many women – starts with feeling good about their face and how their skin looked.
I had struggled with dry skin for a long time so one day I went online and found some face masks that made me feel my skin so hydrated and soft, and helped me wind down and relax as it was time to go to bed. So I can assure you one of the most important lessons you need to learn practicing self-care is— how to take care of your skin.
When you are first trying out face masks or a face mask set, look into what different kinds there are and what purpose they serve in order to find what will work best for you. Face masks can be a great gateway into solving many perceived skin issues and taking the allotted time – usually 10 to 30 minutes – to zen out and let your skin heal is sometimes all it needs and all you need to relax before you head back into your day. Oftentimes the best times to do masks is early in the morning – if it is a hydrating mask – and nighttime – if it is a cleansing mask (that way overnight your face has time to cleanse and clear).
What should you do?
When I first started my self-care journey, I came up with a list of things to do in order to avoid anxiety attacks and feeling wrong about where I am in life. I have supplied the list below in order to give you an idea of where to start before you start your own self-care journey.
Understand how stress affects you
Stress doesn’t just affect your mind, but it can affect your physical being as well. Whether that is manifested in headaches, low energy, upset stomach, insomnia, or aches, pains and tense muscles; the physical symptoms of stress can be just as painful as the mental toll, so be sure to take the time to analyze how stress manifests – I personally keep a journal and notate how long the symptoms last and what works to help alleviate some of the pain.
Protect your physical self
Similar to the first step, improving your physical wellbeing is one of the most comprehensive ways you can support your mental health. You’ll have an easier time maintaining good mental habits when your body is a robust and resilient foundation. This can be done by eating well, exercising daily, practicing relaxation exercises – yoga is a really great place to start with this step -, and getting a good night’s sleep. Adults generally need between seven and nine hours of sleep; which I understand seems like an impossible task.
However, a brief nap—up to 30 minutes— helps me feel refreshed and feel alert again during the day. Even 15 minutes of daytime sleep is helpful. To make your nighttime sleep count more, practice good “sleep hygiene,” like avoiding using computers, TV, and smartphones before bed. I try to turn off all of my technology an hour before I actually lie down in bed every night.
I have always been someone who takes care of others before I take care of myself, and if I did have any issues, then I would try to fix other’s issues before I even thought about working on myself. Any amount of time you take for yourself is essential. Being out of “caregiver mode” for as little as five minutes in the middle of a day packed with obligations can be a meaningful reminder of who you are in a broader sense. It can help keep you from becoming consumed by your responsibilities.
Start small: think about activities you enjoyed before becoming a caregiver and try to work them back into your life. If you used to enjoy days out with friends, try to schedule a standing monthly lunch with them. It becomes part of your routine, and no one has to work extra to make it happen each month.
Practice good mental habits
There are three easy steps you can implement into your everyday life that will immediately help you in the mental positivity game: avoid guilt, notice the positive, and most importantly, gather strength from others. It is okay to ask for help, and it is human to acknowledge that you need help.
Whether you just need someone to be a wall to talk to or if you need someone to hold you while you cry or laugh or scream or anything else; having someone there to talk to who understands you will be the most important thing you can do to help yourself. And who knows, maybe by helping yourself you may end up helping someone else through their struggles.
About the Author
Susan Ranford is an expert on career coaching, business advice, and workplace rights. She has written for New York Jobs, IAmWire, and ZipJob. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for the –