The Practice of Self-Care

Our society places a tremendous burden on us to be “on” at all times. We are overloaded with responsibilities at home and at work, and we care for our partners, parents, and children. In our efforts to be everything for everyone, we often push our own needs aside. When this neglect becomes routine, there can be serious consequences for our mental and physical health, including overwhelm, stress, burnout, depression, anxiety, fatigue, weight loss/weight gain, and an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

This is why the practice of self-care is so crucial. Self-care has been clinically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well increase positivity and happiness. Self-care also plays an important role in resiliency. When our mental and physical health care needs are being met, we are better able to cope with day-to-day stressors.

What is self-care?

Social media has made self-care synonymous with indulgence – facials at fancy spas, decadent chocolates, fine wine, luxury bath salts, and plush blankets. The message we get from this is that self-care is something we earn – a reward for being productive or accomplishing our goals. But self-care is neither a gimmick nor a reward. Simply put, self-care is the daily practice of fostering and maintaining good mental and physical health and well-being.

How can we practice self-care?

We can set boundaries. We can do this by leaving work at 5pm and not checking emails at home. Or we can say “no” to going out for drinks on Saturday night if we would rather Netflix binge.

When we set boundaries, we make our needs a priority.

We can do the boring – but important – things. Cooking, cleaning, organizing, paying bills, or exercising are not very interesting, but they help us to function well in our daily lives.

We can practice self-compassion. Not only does being kind to ourselves increase our self-esteem and self-love, but when we are compassionate and treat ourselves with grace, our brain releases “feel-good” hormones, called oxytocin.

We can do things that bring us joy or peace. This might mean making time for our hobbies or creative arts or spending quality time with our partner, children, or pets. We may also participate in activities that help us identify and process our thoughts and feelings, such as journaling or therapy.

And yes, we can enjoy those little indulgences! Getting regular massages, reading a book while soaking in a bubble bath, or enjoying a glass of prosecco are also wonderful ways to practice self-care…as long as they are not the only way!

Final thoughts

It may take some time to figure out what works best for us in terms of self-care. Our needs may differ from others and our needs may change over time or based on life circumstances. It may also take time to become attune to what our minds and bodies are asking for and develop consistent self-care practices. If you would like to know more about how to develop a self-care plan, talk to your therapist today!





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Jamie Williams

Jamie Williams

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