Self-Care and You
by Sarah Engelskirchen
When you think of self-care, what comes to mind? In the media, we often see self-care represented through inaccessible activities that require excessive time and money. We may feel like we are being bombarded with images of bubble baths, massages, and other “instagrammable” events, leaving us feeling like taking care of ourselves isn’t possible. While the aforementioned pursuits can be wonderful self-care practices for some, self-care is not one size fits all. The purpose of self-care is that it is attentively tailored to fit the unique needs of each person who engages in it.
What is Real Self-Care?
So, what exactly is self-care? While self-care has become a buzzword recently, true self-care is any intentional activity you engage in to meet a need you have. The process of practicing self-care requires that you check in with yourself to identify your feelings and needs. Self-care can be anything from taking a brief walk outside in nature to practicing mindful deep breathing in between meetings at work or other tasks throughout the day. Everyone’s self-care routine will look different, and it certainly doesn’t have to (and won’t always) look glamorous.
Boundaries and Self-Care
An essential part of self-care is developing and upholding healthy boundaries in various areas of our lives, including our relationships with others, our work environments, and even with ourselves. Boundary-setting also requires checking in with ourselves to identify how we feel, where we need to make changes, and how to communicate and maintain our boundaries going forward. Upholding boundaries is inherently a self-care practice because boundaries protect us and ensure we are prioritizing our own needs and making decisions that align with our values.
How to Start Your Self-Care Practice
Set aside an attainable amount of time you can commit to practicing self-care each day. Even if it is only for five minutes, start with what feels manageable and accessible. You can expand your practice later as the process feels easier and becomes a part of your routine. Transitions throughout your day can also be excellent spaces to begin including self-care practices. For example, adding self-care to your morning or night routine or including a self-care practice when you return home from work instead of immediately jumping into the next task on your to-do list. It’s okay to start small as long as you take the first step.
The first step is to engage in a body scan, starting from the top of your head and traveling all the way down to your toes and the soles of your feet. Notice any places of tension. Notice where you hold stress in your body. Next, identify one need you can meet at this very moment. Do you need to stretch your muscles? Do you need water or food? Maybe you need a quiet moment to journal and reflect?
Or perhaps you need to spend time with a pet, talking to a loved one, or watching a funny video online. Whatever feels right, follow that urge and allow yourself to experience the feeling of honoring a need for yourself. The more you engage in this practice, the easier it will become to identify your feelings and needs in order to build a unique self-care practice into your daily routine.
Need support with developing your self-care routine? Contact Embrace Therapy today and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.