Make Self-Care a Priority
Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. The subject of self-care is broad and everyone’s needs are different so when thinking about how to implement self-care activities into your daily practice it can be challenging to know where to start.
Self-care is anything you do to care for yourself; being compassionate with yourself, recognizing when you’re running low on “fuel” (physical or emotional), and putting a pause on the resources you are putting towards other things to give yourself a chance to refuel.
Self-care is not adding more to your to-do list. It is identifying your needs and making them a priority. It is not something you wait to do when you’re already feeling stressed out, if you incorporate it into your routine, it will help to prevent you from feeling stressed out and run down.It is creating healthy behaviours and habits you practice regularly to stay fueled up. It is not selfish – it is about looking after yourself first so you can best help those around you. You can’t pour from an empty cup!
Self-care is important because it helps boost and maintain mental and physical health and allows us to get to know ourselves better. Self-care also enhances self-esteem – taking time for ourselves sends a positive message to our subconscious that we are worthy and have value, therefore helping to reduce getting stuck in negative thinking traps. Although this may feel selfish at times, if we prioritize and fill our cups first – and this may mean saying no to some requests –we are healthier moving forward and better able to help ourselves and others including family, friends, clients and co-workers.
Wondering where to start? We can break self-care into categories: physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, and environmental. Seems like a lengthy list but many self-care activities can cover more than one category and you may be doing some already! It’s important to note that everyone’s self-care needs are different, and ideas for each category will vary depending on the person.
Physical: Involves movement of the body. It could mean going to the gym, going for a walk, hiking or doing simple stretches.Physical self-care also includes keeping up with medical appointments, eating healthy and getting adequate rest and sleep.
Psychological: Involves practices that make our thoughts healthier. Practice mindfulness and being in the present moment. Yoga and meditation are terrific for this. Give yourself a break from social media – try reading a book or journaling instead.
Emotional: Involves being aware of and navigating our emotions, increasing empathy, stress management and developing compassion for self and others. Try starting a gratitude journal (3 things a day you are grateful for), be cognoscente of boundaries and say no when needed. Encourage rather than criticize and treat yourself the way you would treat a friend in the same situation.
Social: Involves having a trusted and supportive group of friends and/or family around you who you can turn to when needed. Having caring and supportive people around you builds a sense of belonging and connectedness. Try joining a committee or group outside of work, help others by getting involved with a community project, charity work or help someone you know and ask for help when you need it.
Professional: Sharing your strengths and skills and having clear professional boundaries. At work try eating a healthy lunch every day (away from your desk); know your roles and responsibilities and maintain boundaries in that role; embrace professional development opportunities and develop connections with co-workers, like going for a walk at lunch together.
Environmental: Aim to keep your space organized and clutter-free by minimizing waste and monitoring technology time. Declutter, recycle, reduce screen time and maintaining a safe and clean living environment.
An empty lantern provides no light. Make self-care a priority this month. If you need assistance getting started or improving your self-care, or for more information about self-care groups, including free Yoga and Mindful Movement classes, check out NorWest Community Health Centres on Facebook. Our monthly calendar is also posted on our website.
Meghan Hagberg, RSW, is a Community Health Worker at NorWest Community Health Centres.
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