Take Care of Yourself: You Deserve It!
Life is busy. There are always tasks to do at home, work is hectic and can be stressful, your children or family members need your time and energy, and your calendar is jammed. In an effort to keep your schedule under control, sometimes you skip meals, miss your exercise session, or cancel plans with friends. Does this sound familiar?
When life gets busy, self-care is often the first thing that tends to be sacrificed. Why? Because the thought of taking time for yourself in the middle of busy times often seems indulgent or selfish. Self-care is not selfish. Looking after your well-being (especially when feeling stressed or overwhelmed) will help you be more productive and care for others more effectively. Think of the Oxygen Mask Theory. When you’re on an airplane and the oxygen masks drops in front of you, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. This is because you can only effectively help others when you first help yourself. Self-care works the same way.
International Self-Care Day (ISCD) is celebrated each year on July 24th to help raise awareness of the importance of self-care to stay healthy and prevent or delay illness.
The theme for this year’s ISCD is ‘Feel Good, 7/24’, which highlights that the benefits of practicing self-care are experienced 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. In other words, the benefits of self-care are life-long and do not just relate to a single day.
What is self care? Self-care means taking small steps to look after yourself every day. Looking after yourself is an important part of living a happy and healthy life. Self-care refers to the activities and practices that we deliberately choose to engage in on a regular basis to maintain and enhance our health and well-being.
What are the benefits of self-care? Practicing good self-care can help reduce stress, prevent overload “burnout”, improve your self-esteem, increase your focus, and so much more! Remember, self-care is not just about your mental health. It’s also about caring for your physical self, by eating healthy, taking adequate sleep, caring about your hygiene and exercising regularly, all of which have tremendous health benefits.
The lack of self-care can have a negative impact on your overall health and well-being and it can lead to the development of chronic diseases (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, some cancers) down the road. But, the good news is that it is possible to reduce substantially your risk of these diseases by adjusting your lifestyles and taking better care of yourself by practicing self-care.
Examples of Self Care Activities
Practicing self care does not have to cost much. In fact there are many things that you can do that are free or affordable.
- Talk openly with a trusted friend
- Sit outside and listen to the birds
- Practice breathing exercises
- Make sure you are eating a well balanced diet
- Get enough sleep
- Make room in your life for a nap. Rest a while and “recharge”
- Make exercise a regular part of your routine
- Take a warm bath/shower. Warm water is very soothing and relaxing for tight and tense muscles and for the mind.
- Listen to music you enjoy
- Try a yoga class
- Read a good book
- Plant a garden
- Buy yourself a little something (i.e. a flower or candle)
- Make room in your schedule for attending a class to learn something new
For more information on self-care and for some help on how to get started, consider using the following Self-Care Starter Kit created by Homewood Health: https://www2.viu.ca/humanresources/documents/Self-CareKitJuly2016.pdf