Self-care plays a vital role in your overall health and wellness. From staying active to eating a healthy diet to making time for hobbies, there are a lot of ways to care for yourself. While everyone’s activities and schedule will be different depending on their fitness level and interests, a successful self-care routine starts with a commitment to yourself to make your mental and physical health a priority.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is defined as the actions taken by an individual in an attempt to achieve optimal mental and physical health. At the most basic level, this can include daily activities like grooming, eating regular meals, and getting enough sleep. Activities that promote emotional well-being, like traveling, meditation, and therapy, are also examples of self-care. In recent years, “unplugging” from electronics has become a popular way to spend time in nature and reconnect with other people. Both of these activities positively affect your mental health.
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Why is Self-Care Important?
Many times, when we get busy working or caring for others, we forget to make time for the activities that nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits. At times like these, your monthly cut-and-color appointment, your weekly meal prep, or your daily yoga practice may seem like luxuries you can’t afford to spend the time or money doing. The truth is, you can’t afford not to do them. Neglecting even simple self-care practices can lead to short- and long-term consequences for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
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The Pillars of Self-Care
The exact number of pillars, also known as domains, of self-care varies depending on who you ask. Generally speaking, there are five areas you should focus on to ensure you are taking good care of yourself: physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and professional. While you may not be able to plan an activity from each domain for every single day, a well-rounded routine will include elements from each of these areas on a regular basis.
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The Benefits of Self-Care
The benefits of self-care are many. Taking time for yourself can improve your self-esteem, increase your productivity, and bolster your immune system. It can also make you happier in the long term by helping you find and pursue your passions. Finally, caring for yourself can also help you better care for the other people in your life. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care is a way to fill your own chalice.
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Barriers to Self-Care
Lack of time and money. Responsibilities to your employer, family, and friends. The idea that caring for yourself is selfish. There are a lot of reasons people don’t make caring for themselves a priority. The thing is, self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. And, if we’re honest, most of us could spend less time watching TV or browsing the internet. Furthermore, investing in your health and wellness benefits every other area of your life. So, eliminate the excuses, and treat yourself!
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Chances are, your self-care routine looks completely different than your partner’s, your parent’s, and your best friend’s. That’s because what each of you finds interesting, nurturing, and relaxing is different. Not only that, but we all operate on different schedules and budgets. The good news is it doesn’t really matter what self-care activities you do or when you do them. If you want to nurture yourself by getting your body moving, you can choose to go for a long run early in the morning, walk the dog around the block on your lunch break, or head to Spin class after work — whatever makes you feel good. You should also take the time to relax and unwind, no matter if you curl up with a warm mug of tea, read a few chapters of a good book, or enjoy a movie night with friends. What’s important is that you create a sustainable routine that works for you.
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