What is Self-Care?
While the concept of self-care isn’t new, it has grown more popular in recent years. Advocates championing open discussions on mental health often advise others to have good self-care practices. However, like most things in life, implementing self-care into your routine is easier said than done.
We’ve all heard the saying “treat others the way you would like to be treated,” but let’s also adopt the saying, “treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.” We give the people in our lives our love, time, and energy. We lend them an ear to talk to and a shoulder to cry on. And yet, when it comes to ourselves, we take shortcuts and skip steps in our journey to wellness, dismissing our own feelings and problems.
Self-care is the countermovement to this behavior. It’s about making your well-being a priority. Self-care practices are not acts of learning to be more selfish, but rather, acts of learning more about yourself and taking the time necessary to improve your mood and circumstance.
Chances are, you may already have an inkling of how you can care for yourself better. But for those of you who don’t know where to start, here are some helpful self-care practices to try this new year.
Make Time for Your Passions
You don’t need a degree in Psychology to know that doing something you love can improve your mood and health. Hobbies bring us joy and allow us to redirect negative energy. They help us “unwind” and relax. People so often lose themselves in their work or school work, forgetting to take time to explore their passions and interests. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language or how to draw, but the timing just never seemed right. But instead of waiting around for a hypothetical time that may never come, why not just start now?
Be More Positive
Another good self-care practice is to realign your way of thinking and to keep a positive attitude. If you struggle with negative thoughts, try keeping a gratitude log. A gratitude log can help stave off negative energy, by guiding you to find something to be thankful for–even on rainy days. An affirmation log is another excellent tool you can use to fight negativity. Stop telling yourself what you can’t do and write down what you can and will. Proclaim your goals and your mantras confidently and remind yourself of them every day, and soon, you’ll believe in them.
Prioritize Your Health Before You’re Sick
Sometimes self-care is doing the things you don’t want to do but know are beneficial to your well-being, like going to therapy or the dentist. People so easily neglect their mental and physical health, especially in stressful periods of their lives. But arguably, this is when you should value your wellbeing the most. Stop waiting for yourself to get sick before you care about your health. Make your wellness a priority by being proactive and preventative.
Start a Morning Routine
Make your mornings for you. Schedule time for yourself in the mornings and treat it as seriously as you would an important meeting. If you aren’t a morning person, trust me, you aren’t alone. To be honest, I don’t really remember the last time I went to bed in the PM. However, establishing a morning routine is an extremely beneficial self-care practice. Mornings set your intention and attitude for the rest of day. Some great activities to partake in the morning are meditation and writing in your Morning Pages. Both activities offer clarity and reflection, as well as a chance to release whatever you’ve been carrying with you the day before, such as anxieties, stress, and conflicts. Meditation and Morning Pages give you the opportunity to check in with yourself, destress, and create a sanctuary for your thoughts.
This last self-care practice is arguably the most fun to partake in. Buy yourself those shoes you’ve been eyeing, a monthly subscription box curated around your hobbies, or a nice dinner…Just don’t overdo it (having a lengthy phone call with the IRS is the opposite of self-care.) Treating yourself doesn’t have to be a luxury. It doesn’t even have to be monetary. You can bake yourself cookies or read a book you already have. There’s no right or wrong way to show yourself affection.
Give Yourself the Attention You Deserve This Year
Whether it’s “treating yourself” or finding a new hobby, good self-care practices are incredibly beneficial to your health and wellness. So, as this calendar year comes to an end, aim to prioritize your needs and care for yourself a little better this new year.