Self-care is a term that we hear more and more in our world, especially in the mental health care profession. As a professional counselor, one of the questions I may ask someone is, “what does your self-care routine look like?” The reactions to that inquiry range from, “What is that?” to a detailed routine that is immovable.
I would venture to say, when it comes to our self-care, many of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. We are striving to care for ourselves so that we can be our best selves.
What Is Self-Care?
The Oxford dictionary tells us that self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health, the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” The definition is simple yet profound. The words “preserve” and “improve” stand out to me.
Preserving and improving!
The only reason we would want to preserve anything is that it is of value to us, that is, worth it! It’s worth the energy, time, and care because it is of importance. You and I are of value! We are worth something so much more beautiful than we even know up to this point! This is the reason or the “why” to self-care; in the end, we all know it’s about more than just ourselves- it is about becoming who we are made to be to make even the smallest difference in the world!
Creating An Effective Self-Care Regimen
Whether simple or more detailed, implementing a self-care regimen can feel impossibly heavy, especially when we are drowning in expectations, are overworked, exhausted, restless, aimlessly searching, and feeling like we are failing. Self-care, and life in general, can begin to feel hopeless. Though, the reality is that there is hope, particularly in the form of helpful tools we can put in place to help ourselves along the journey.
Let’s get practical. What does this look like? While it can look differently for lots of different people and circumstances, here are some steps that anyone can take towards better prioritizing their self-care:
One of the best ways to cope with stress is to have an outlet. If this isn’t something you’ve considered, start by brainstorming about what you truly love to do. Ask yourself and even journal about the following questions:
- What makes you come alive?
- What is the activity, hobby, and interest that makes you feel that nothing else matters when you are doing it?
Make basic care a necessity. Sleep, eating well, hydration is key to physical and mental health, so prioritize having these needs met, even if it means saying “no” to other opportunities or obligations.
Surround yourself with your team of support. The people we spend time with make or break us. Seek to form deep relationships and friendships with those who are encouraging and helpful to be around. A professional therapist or counselor can be a great addition to your support network, as well, and can help you walk through and cope with a crisis, both big and small.
Keep it simple. When things around us or our head or heart feel like a hurricane, we need our anchors in life. What anchors you? What gives you hope?
Realize that self-care is circumstantial. It is always a beautiful thing to care for yourself, but it is even more critical when life feels especially hard. Times of loss and even times of transition and big decisions in life call for more care of ourselves because of the stress that comes our way during those times.
The beauty of self-care that it reminds us that we are human and that indeed everyone is! Especially to the person reading this with a heavy heart, remember you are beautiful, And we believe in you! If your crisis or stressor is facing an unplanned pregnancy or helping someone you know walk through this season, we are here to help!