The Importance Of Self-care – 5 Steps To Start Taking Care Of Yourself
Self-care is essential for our physical and emotional well-being. Our body needs to rest after exercising to function well. We also need to rest “emotionally”, including spending time on our own, having breaks from our routine and investing in our self-development.
Self-care is not about being “needy”. It is necessary. If we don’t rest, if we only think about our to-do list and forget about our needs, not only we will be unhappy, it can have a negative impact on our health. Have you ever experienced a physical symptom in a period of intense stress? Unfortunately, it is very common nowadays.
Have you ever been on a plane? You might have noticed that in the instructions to follow in case of an emergency, they advise you to put your oxygen mask on before trying to help your children or anyone else. I’m sure many mums might think, “no way, my kids go first!” But if you try to help someone else and you don’t have your own mask on, you might start feeling dizzy and not only will you not be able to help anyone, you might need help yourself!
It makes sense that you need to help yourself before trying to help others, doesn’t it?
Just like in our everyday life, we are so focused on our obligations and everyone else’s needs that we “forget” the most important thing: that we also need to be taken care of.
What is the problem?
The main problem is that we confuse taking care of ourselves with being selfish. If you dedicate time to yourself you might be accused (or you might even accuse yourself) of not being a good girlfriend/mum/friend, being needy or not loving your close ones enough. Taking care of yourself and loving others are not mutually exclusive!
Think about the person you love the most. What would you do for them? Would you take care of them? Would you spend time with them? Would you spoil them sometimes? Would you care about how they feel? Would you respect their decisions even if you don’t agree with them?
No need to say anything, I know the answer is a loud and clear, “of course”!
Now I would like you to think about yourself and answer the same questions. What do you do for yourself? Do you take care of yourself? Do you spoil yourself sometimes? Do you care about how you feel? Do you respect your decisions even when others don’t agree with them?
I bet the answers were very different this time. “Well… I don’t need so much attention”, “I’m fine”, “I’m stronger”, “the other person needs me more”. Does this sound familiar?
But if we stop and think about it for a second… Wouldn’t it make sense to love and take care of oneself with the same intensity?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about caring about our pleasure only and not helping anyone. Or not caring for anyone or anything. I’m not talking about extreme situations.
But in general, if we want to help others, we first need to have our needs satisfied. That means being well physically and emotionally. I’ve met many women who have ended up collapsing from trying to help anyone but themselves, getting to a point where they feel stressed, depressed and physically and emotionally drained.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s perfectly fine and it is actually necessary for our physical and emotional health.
If someone tries to make you think the opposite, think twice about who is the selfish one.
How do I take care of myself? Start taking these 5 key actions:
1. Make your health a priority.
This shouldn’t be negotiable. Listen to your body. Does it need to rest? Exercise? Or just slow down? Very often our responsibilities and commitments take priority. But if we don’t listen to our body and give it what it needs, physical symptoms will appear sooner or later.
2. Learn how to say no.
Linked to the point above, very often the problem is that we don’t know how to say no. Give yourself permission to not go to that birthday party, to not answer that unurgent call, to not stay late at work… Set boundaries. What would you advise the person you love the most to do in your situation?
Yes, the same person in the example above. Would you judge them for saying no? Apply the same criteria to yourself.
We tend to think we are superwomen, but we are not and we don’t have to be. I’m sure your to-do list is endless. Prioritise your tasks. Identify the ones that are actually urgent or important. It’s better to start with these ones in the morning, and if by the end of the day you haven’t completed some less urgent or important tasks, you won’t feel so stressed.
4. Pay attention to your emotions.
Be aware of how you feel during the day, and express your emotions as you need to. Being able to manage our emotions is key to our well-being. In this article, you can learn more about how to identify your emotions and express them in a healthy way.
5. Have a break.
Spend time on your own. This is essential to disconnect from the “busyness” and connect with your needs and values. Add “on your own” moments to your routine as much as you can, like having a hot bath, going for a walk without your phone or journaling for 15 minutes about your day.
I hope you liked the article and… take care!
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