Self-care has become a bit of a “buzzword” in recent years. You’ve probably seen #treatyourself on more than one occasion, perhaps accompanied by a picture of something shiny and expensive. Unfortunately, that’s given self-care a bit of a negative stereotype.
Because of all the hype, you might think that self-care means you have to buy something expensive or do something luxurious (and outside your budget). That isn’t the case at all! In fact, self-care isn’t frivolous. It’s a necessary component for your physical and wellbeing. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or step out of your comfort zone to practice self-care on a daily basis.
So, it’s time to redefine self-care and make it work for you. In order to do that, let’s take a closer look at the scientific defense of taking care of yourself every day.
For Your Mental Health
Self-care is hugely important for your mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on almost everyone’s emotional state, and some healthcare experts are now worried about a mental health pandemic because of it. But, there are other factors that play into your mental wellbeing, too. Life can be stressful. You might feel lonely, you might be going through something challenging, or you could be burnt out from work.
Self-care can help you when your mental health has been put on the back burner for too long. It can include common therapeutic practices like:
- Deep breathing
Even certain forms of non-invasive therapy can be considered self-care, including light therapy. It’s often used for people who deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or those who might have trouble sleeping. It can boost your mood, give you more energy, and reduce your stress levels every day.
Self-care for your mental health can also include talking to someone. Don’t be afraid to speak up about your feelings to a trusted family member or friend. Or, if you’re really struggling with your emotions, consider talking to a therapist or counselor. Telehealth has risen in popularity in light of the pandemic. So, you can connect with a licensed therapist from anywhere in the country from the comfort of your own home.
For Your Physical Health
You don’t have to purchase an expensive gym membership or buy special equipment to make self-care a priority for your physical health. It’s about what makes you feel good on a regular basis, and that means different things for different people. Some of the science-backed ways to take care of your body include:
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Getting enough sleep
Those might not seem like components of self-care, but they absolutely are. Making the time to get enough rest each night means you’re making your health a priority. Cooking healthy meals for yourself can give you energy and make you feel better. Exercising every day will help to keep your body strong and can even reduce your risk of certain diseases.
Speaking of which, if you already have a chronic illness or condition, self-care is extraordinarily important. Self-care can also mean self-love for your body. On “bad” days, you can practice self-care by advocating for yourself to get the help you need. Further, don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t be afraid to say “no” to things that might make your symptoms worse. Show gratitude for the things your body can do, even when you’re not feeling great.
You can even “treat yourself” to a few items that will improve your overall wellness. That doesn’t necessarily mean a diamond necklace or a sports car. Rather, if you’re someone who deals with chronic back pain or has trouble sleeping, consider saving up for a new mattress and combine it with other ways to reduce your pain.
As you might be able to tell, your mental and physical health are largely connected when it comes to taking care of yourself. These self-care suggestions aren’t just good for one area of your body — they’re good for your overall health.
For Everyday Life
In many cases, self-care is absolutely free. It just requires a bit of creativity and the motivation to make yourself a priority. Everyday self-care involves finding little moments to decompress, de-stress, and do something for yourself.
By focusing on those moments now, you can make every day easier, and you can even make the aging process smoother. Doing things that are good for your heart, things that reduce your stress levels, and things that combat loneliness are all great ways to set yourself up for a healthy future.
So, can that cup of coffee and a cookie with your friend on a Tuesday afternoon be a form of self-care? Absolutely. A hot bath after a long day? Of course! Reading your favorite book before bed? One-hundred percent. When you realize the science-backed benefits of self-care, it’s easier to feel good about what you’re doing for your mind, body, and future on a daily basis.
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