How do you take the first steps toward practicing self-care? It may seem difficult among life’s many responsibilities, but with a bit of introspection and planning, we can achieve success; below is a framework to begin practicing quality self-care.
- Examine the Meaning of Self-Care
Self-care consists of several aspects. Some of the components we know are beneficial include:
- A healthy diet
- Good sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Learning to say “no”
- Avoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms (e.g., use of substances, over-working, gambling)
- Proper socialization
- Psychotherapeutic support
- Spirituality (whatever that looks like to you)
- Exercise (mentioned twice for a reason!)
"In the same way weeds wreak havoc on untended gardens, failing to adequately take care of oneself … inhibits our capability to successfully meet the demands of daily life.”
- Care About Self-Care
Valuing self-care is essential to health, as well as healthy relationships with oneself and others. In the same way weeds wreak havoc on untended gardens, failing to adequately take care of oneself—for example, being distracted from daily responsibilities, having unhealthy habits and behaviors, and the inability to say ‘no’ to unreasonable requests—inhibits our capability to successfully meet the demands of daily life.
- Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses
How do you know what you need? Notice the ‘rants’ as well as fantasies in your head. For example, if you are sick of everybody asking you for something, how can you get some quiet time? Do you feel ignored? Do you want to run away? Is it hard to get out of or go to bed? Are you mentally exhausted? Answering these and similar questions with compassion and without judgement will lead you to a prescription for creating your own self-care plan. This step can seem daunting and may elicit fears. Sometimes, counseling can provide a safe-space where you can sift through and sort out the roadblocks.
“Research tells us that taking time for self-care actually creates more time to be present and productive.”
- Make Time for Self-Care
This is a hard one. How do we grant ourselves permission to turn the world off, even for ten minutes? For most of us, this will take practice. Initially, it may feel selfish and/or indulgent. If you hit a wall with this task, it can be helpful to discuss it with a friend, family member, coach or therapist. Research tells us that taking time for self-care actually creates more time to be present and productive. We are skilled at tricking ourselves, so check in and hold yourself accountable.
- Plan Your Care and Work Your Plan
It is often difficult to implement new behaviors and create new habits. Make sure your plan is achievable, and mentally rehearse what your new day will look and feel like. Set yourself up for success. If you fail to run or meditate in the morning, realize you still have the rest of the day, and don’t forget to use self-compassion.
If you could use support from a professional in creating and implementing a self-care plan, our therapists can help. Reach out to our care team confidentially.