The rise in popularity of the self-care ethos has been made possible by television shows such as Parks and Recreation and their infamous episodes focusing on the mantra “treat yo-self”. Self-care is being increasingly toted through heartwarming images posted on many social media feeds – think tumblr and instagram accounts – focusing on inspirational and artistically designed memos telling us to “Be Strong” or “Don’t forget self-love”. While there isn’t anything wrong with these image heavy, and simplistic visions of self-care, what does a deeper realization of the self-care methodology mean?
Self-care at its roots, stems from the medical field and references the ability of someone to look after their basic needs such as eating, sleeping, and cleanliness. It has been adapted by therapists, as well as more recently by individuals, to promote healthy emotional well-being. While certainly emotional and spiritual self-care is built on a solid foundation of physical health, it now goes much farther to include activities such as meditation, relaxation, and the treating yourself mentality.
There are many reasons why this new self-centered methodology is becoming popularized, and it’s not because people are becoming more selfish. People’s lives are increasingly stressful, and it’s not unusual for people to spend the majority of their energy on something or someone else, instead of looking after their own needs.
There is also an increasing trend in industrialized nations towards depression, anxiety and codependency issues, which leads to a difficulty understanding and fulfilling one’s own emotional needs. These issues and others are making it extremely necessary for development of personal self-care guides, in order to become better equipped emotionally, mentally and physically for the tough, chaotic world around us.
Self-care comes in 3 phases: physical Self-care, an understanding of your basic needs; emotional self-care, an understanding of your emotional needs; and finally, prioritizing self-care, making time and sticking to your plans for self-love.
Before you can address any other aspects of your self-care requirements, the most important step is to assess if you are meeting your basic physical needs. Do a quick review of the below, and do a quick mental assessment on each point.
- Rested and Sleeping Well
- Eating Regularly
- Physical Activity
- Getting Outdoors
Potentially, by solving one of your basic needs, you will be able to easily manage the rest of your emotional well being. After all, we’ve all been so busy we’ve forgotten to eat, leading us to be increasingly hangry. Poor sleep can also upset our delicate internal emotional stability, as well as going without regular physical activity. If we neglect the basics, it’s easy for the mind and body to get out of sync.
Once you have confirmed that your physical well being is fully addressed, then it’s time to do an emotional and mental checkup. This can mean many different things, depending on individual circumstances. Take some time to really connect with what you are craving, what your emotional self needs. Ask yourself what would make you happy and what is missing from your daily routine that could calm your inner turmoil. Perhaps it is something from the list below, or it may be something completely different.
- Quiet time
- Deeper sense of Spirituality
Once you have a target issue, such as relaxation, the fun part begins. Now you can build a self-care regimen that will focus on you and the core aspects you are missing. Can you dedicate time everyday to relaxation? Can you set aside one night a week to focus on what you need to feel relaxed? In this case maybe it is a night at home, with a cup of tea and an essential oil bath, or maybe it means joining in with a Yin yoga class at the studio near your office.
Each emotional self-care package will look different, depending on the person and the missing link. The important thing is that you can specifically build it to suit what you feel you need. There should be no feelings of pressure to do something outside of your comfort zone. This is after all, about feeling good.
Prioritize Self Care
Once you’ve developed a few ideas of how to improve your emotional well being, it’s time to get serious. This means making it a priority in your life, and instead of putting other people and other aspects of your life first, you need to make time for you.
Schedule it: Find space in your calendar on a weekly basis, and schedule that downtime, massage, or yoga class now. Don’t wait to see when you may have time later, because, it will never just magically appear. Ensure that at least once a week, you are focusing on yourself for a set time period.
Be Assertive: As you gain more of an understanding about what your emotional self is craving and what could be causing the disparity, start making a list of root causes to target. Start asserting yourself more, perhaps you don’t have to take that extra assignment at work, or maybe you don’t have to drive your children to the soccer game every week. Ensure your self-care schedule is being met, and make sure nothing is getting in the way.
Self-Care Daily: Build little moments of self-care into your daily schedule. This could sound like a big step for some, but you can work on it in small, baby, steps. Small sessions of 10-15 minutes can be much more powerful than a handful of self-care dates over the course of a month.