Although the term ‘self-care’ has been around since the 1950s, the concept behind it is still widely misunderstood. The term self-care often means different things to different people and sometimes the objective behind self-care gets lost in the conversation. Even worse, self-care is sometimes spoken of derisively. It is implied that self-care is somehow selfish or self-indulgent or that a need for self-care is a sign of weakness of character.
In this article, Cottonwood Tucson explains the art of self-care, why it matters and how to become a master at it.
What is Self-Care Exactly?
The simplest definition of self-care is: Taking actions that promote your physical, mental, emotional, and financial well-being now, and for the future. Something as simple as taking a long, hot shower and then taking your time to brush, floss and shave afterward constitutes self-care. A favorite hobby or pastime that puts you at ease can be a form of self-care too. You’re doing something positive for your body that makes you feel better.
What self-care really means is looking after yourself the way you would someone you love. Making sure that you’re OK and that you are getting what you need to feel content and at peace, as best you can. For some people that’s exercise or sports. For others, it may be therapy or even helping others through volunteer work. Some might just prefer staying in for a solo movie night with a big bowl of popcorn. There is no wrong answer here — as long as it’s good for you (or at least not bad for you) and it makes you feel good, then it can qualify as self-care.
Actually practicing self-care can sometimes feel anything but simple sometimes. Whether it’s because you aren’t sure where to begin, or you feel guilty or self-indulgent or you think you’re just “too busy” for this self-care stuff — it’s vitally important that you move past any obstacles that may be preventing you from giving yourself what you need to stay emotionally and physically healthy and grounded.
Acts of self-care can be found in several categories, they include:
- Physical well-being
- Emotional well-being
- Intellectual well-being
- Spiritual well-being
- Environmental well-being
- Occupational well-being
- Financial well-being
Attending to Self-Care is Not Selfish
For many people, especially those with a ‘caretaker personality’ or who struggle with codependency, taking time out for themselves can feel selfish. It may make them feel anxious, for example, to turn their phone off for a few hours and take a nap when they really need one. They might worry about their children or spouse trying to reach them during that time and all the awful things that might happen when they can’t.
It is critical to smash the idea that self-care is somehow indulgent or selfish. It is nothing of the kind. In fact, acts of self-care are necessary in order to balance your physical, emotional and spiritual health. It may take time for you to get comfortable with the idea of doing things for yourself and setting boundaries with people. That’s OK – just as long as you do it.
If you find that you are unable to set boundaries and take time for self-care, even if it may momentarily inconvenience someone else, then it may be time to consider asking for outside help from a therapist or a private treatment center with a clinically robust mental health program.
When it comes to the art of self-care, remember that:
- Self-care and self-love are not selfish – they are natural and necessary.
- Making certain you have time for self-care is critical to your well-being.
- Giving yourself room for self-care often requires setting boundaries.
- Self-care is important. If you can’t seem to find room for it, ask for help.
How Do I Master The Art of Self-Care?
Mastering the art of self-care isn’t nearly as complicated as mastering the plethora of other skills and talents out in the world. It doesn’t require laser-like focus or relentless hard work and repetition the way so many other forms of mastery do.
Rather it’s a matter of prioritization and setting boundaries. It also helps to know yourself so you know how to replenish your own well when it’s beginning to run dry. Better yet, you incorporate those acts of self-care into your routine so that there is almost never a risk of overextending yourself or “burning out”.
What do you love to do? What leaves you feeling rested and whole? What makes you feel more like yourself? It could be drawing or fly fishing. Travel. Playing soccer. Working with ceramics. Hiking in the mountains. Swimming. Think about what really does it for you. Now try and remember the last time you took the time to do it. If you can’t remember — that’s a definite sign that you’re not doing it nearly enough.
Self-care is essential to maintaining balance in your life. If you relegate it to the bottom of your list of to-do’s every time, then it will likely never get done and you will pay the price sooner or later. Your health may fail you or you may just become deeply unhappy or have financial problems. Yes, managing your money wisely and planning for retirement is a form of self-care too.
The way to master self-care is to make it a priority. Determine what forms of self-care you get the most from. Then set boundaries as necessary to ensure you have the time and space necessary to service that need for yourself.
Some reasons why self-care is a must include:
- A lack of adequate self-care can contribute to depression and anxiety.
- Not caring for your body has very real consequences for your health.
- Neglecting your emotional and spiritual needs can lead to substance abuse.
- Sacrificing self-care to work more will actually make you less productive eventually.
How Do I Choose a Form of Self-Care That Suits Me?
As a busy parent or business owner perhaps, you may have had so little time for anything outside of the bare essentials of self-care (like grooming) that you have no idea what will actually recharge your spiritual batteries, so to speak.
That’s OK if that’s the case. Make note of it. Then make it a priority to discover which people, places and activities help you relax and feel more whole and centered. Taking the time to do this will pay real dividends in the long run, so it’s well worth doing.
You might start by thinking back to your childhood. What brought you simple joy or peace as a kid? Maybe it was riding your bicycle. Or picking apples in an old orchard near your home. Search for those moments when you felt at peace and see what activities or places seem to coincide with those moments.
If you’re still unsure, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying some popular types of self-care. Getting a massage or having a spa day is a great one. There are very few people who don’t feel rejuvenated after that type of experience. Maybe there is an activity you’ve always wanted to try but never seemed to find the time. Make it a priority to finally do it and commit yourself to getting it going.
Some ideas on finding the right mode of self-care for yourself:
- Consider where you feel the most depleted, and where the need is greatest. Your body? Then a massage perhaps. Your mind? Consider a solo vacation or seeing a therapist, or just talking to a trusted friend.
- Think about what has brought you joy and peace in the past. Go all the way back to your childhood if you need to. Imagine a time when you felt safe and whole and secure in yourself. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with?
- Look to people you know for inspiration. Who seems to have the healthiest work-life balance? Who seems calm or cheerful most of the time? What acts of self-care do they perform for themselves? Don’t be afraid to ask them – what they tell you may be more valuable than you can imagine.
Luxury Residential Mental Health Treatment in Arizona
Cottonwood Tucson is the Southwest’s premier mental health treatment center. For over 25 years our mission has been to deliver the highest quality evidence-based treatment available for mental health disorders and substance use disorders.
Taking care of your mental health is one of the most important acts of self-care there is. The world seems to be moving faster than ever before and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Remember that no one else can take care of self-care for you. It’s up to you to ensure you’re getting what you need.
Our private residential treatment program is situated on 35 peaceful and serene acres in the Sonoran Desert foothills. If you or a veteran you love could benefit from the expert care and innovative treatment that only Cottonwood offers – let’s talk about it.
Call us anytime, 24 hours a day at (888) 433-1069.