September is Self-Care Awareness Month, and it is a very important month. Most people could benefit greatly from taking a bit of time to care for one’s self. However, most people encounter a number of obstacles along the way, one of the biggest being its connotation. Self-care is often seen as selfish. Choosing to put one’s needs above others every once in a while can result in feelings of guilt, especially if others perceive it as self-centered. We then end up putting others’ needs before our own and neglecting what we need. This can lead to burnout or other forms of physical and emotional exhaustion.
So how do we practice self-care? What does it look like? For some, self-care may entail a relaxing spa day, shopping, dining out, or other tangible ways of treating yourself. However, there are many ways to practice self-care in your everyday life.
- Pause and take a deep breath. Inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your lungs filling with oxygen. Allow yourself to be present in the moment. Take notice of where you feel stress in your body. Listen to your heartbeat. Exhale slowly. Visualize all of your physical stress leaving your body through your nose and mouth. Be still for a moment longer.
- Say No. It’s okay to say no to something that you are not comfortable doing or being a part of. It is better to be uncomfortable for a moment than to be uncomfortable for a prolonged period of time. Take it a step further. Consider cutting out things that you are currently doing if they make you uncomfortable or you cannot commit to doing them with the appropriate amount of care and attention. Find someone why may be willing to take over the responsibility or delegate some of your workload.
- Ask yourself what is upsetting you. Don’t deny if something is bothering you. Figure out a solution that will put you at ease. If it involves another person, talk to them about the situation and come to an understanding, even if you have to agree to disagree.
- Forgive Yourself. We tend to be better at forgiving others, but when we are upset, we must remember to forgive ourselves. We all get upset at times, and that is OK. Don’t be disappointed that someone or something was able to get under your skin. Don’t continue to feel guilty for not being your best self all of the time. Embrace that you are human and that you experience emotions, but those emotions don’t have to control you.
- Spend time with yourself. Ask yourself what one activity you can do to take care of yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally. Are you interested in trying mediation? Do you love to read? Have you been meaning to go back to the gym? Would you like to learn another language? Make time for yourself! Every day, you can set a timer for 20 minutes and do what you love to do. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you can achieve and how much easier it is to stay committed.
Self-care is about loving yourself and being kind to yourself. When you are able to show love to yourself, you are much better equipped to show love to others.
This article was submitted by Jessica Blackwell, Target II Women’s Healthcare and Wellness committee member