Firstly, let’s clear up one common misconception: Self-care is not the same as self-indulgence or being selfish. Self-care means taking care of you! This is vital so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day. Self-care is important yet it is the first thing we neglect if we are busy.
When we don’t take care of ourselves, we risk running into problems that include burnout, fatigue, anxiety and depression. We need to sustain balance in our lives to maintain strength, resilience and focus. Have you ever stopped to think about a safety briefing on a plane? They always tell you to put on your own face mask before assisting others, a message that rings throughout our lives. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we are no good to anyone. So, it’s time to ignore any feelings of guilt and start embracing self worth with enthusiasm. It is time to give yourself permission to be kind to yourself. Small changes to your daily routine can make a huge positive impact on your life.
Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, an associate professor and chair of the department of psychological and educational consultation at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, says the need for self-care is obvious. “We have an epidemic of anxiety and depression,” she says. “Everybody feels it.”
Types of Self-Care
Self-care can be anything that puts a smile on your face,” Dr. Gill Lopez says. "“Anything that makes you feel cared for, even if it's you caring for yourself.”" (“What Is Self-Care and Why Is It Critical for Your Health ...”)
There are a few different categories of self-care:
Emotional self-care, such as self-talk, weekly bubble baths, saying “no” to things that cause unnecessary stress, giving yourself permission to take a pause, or setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend.
Physical self-care, such as prioritizing sleep, adopting an exercise routine you can stick with, choosing healthy and nourishing foods over highly processed ones.
Spiritual self-care, such as attending a religious service, spending time in nature, meditating, incorporating regular acts of kindness into your day, or keeping a diary.
Additionally, Gill Lopez puts self-care into two further categories: temporary and enduring.
An example of temporary self-care is going to dinner with a friend. You’ll benefit from the social connection, but it won’t last for very long after you part ways.
Enduring self-care, on the other hand, has more permanent effects. Gill Lopez says an example of this is practicing mindfulness regularly, because it leads to brain changes, she says. According to a study published in Psychiatry Research, eight weeks of mindfulness training led to changes in grey matter concentrations in the brain areas involved with learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.
“You reap the benefits of mindfulness whether you're [actively] doing it or not,” Gill Lopez says.
So, what can you do I hear you ask? Below are some self-care swaps that you can easily add into your daily routine.
While this might sound like pointing out the obvious, we are all guilty of handing over too much of our time to our screens. I for one am very guilty of this! The bright screen of our phones can disrupt our circadian rhythm (the pattern of daylight and nightfall that tells our bodies when to rest). So, scrolling through Instagram just before bed is likely to affect the quality of your sleep as well as the duration. Try putting a screen time curfew in your house, and leaving your phone to charge downstairs, instead of next to your bed. This is so important as many people use their phones both socially and for work purposes, make sure you have dedicated time to switch off and relax. A fantastic way to relax is to pop on a Spacemask before bed, as many of our customers have said ‘they are simply amazing.’
- Skin kind
One of the best ways to protect your skin and the planet is to make the move to reusable make up pads. Rather than using wet wipes (which are woven with plastic) start using gentle cotton pads that can be washed and reused again and again. Not only does it save you money in the long run, but you will also be taking a kinder, gentler approach to your skin and the planet.
- Eat well
When it comes to nutrition and well-being, there is a plethora of information on what is right and wrong for your body. In reality, it comes down to what works for you.
Nutrition can have a huge effect on how you feel, physically and mentally, how you sleep and your appearance.
- Invest in nutritious, brain boosting breakfasts every morning to fuel your day.
- Make time to do a weekly shop so you’re not rushing throughout the week.
- Find balance in your eating habits. It’s ok to eat the chocolate bar if you fancy it.
- Eat dinner every night at the table, rather than in front of the television.
- Invest in your sleep routine. If you struggle with sleep, try and introduce foods that are high in melatonin to encourage a healthy sleep pattern.
- Sustainable soak
Choose essential oils over bubble bath. Slipping into a warm bath with a good book is a simple daily escape we can all indulge in. Switching out a foaming bubble bath for essential oils or natural bath salts, soaks, crumbles and bombs can be a revelation. Not only do essential oils have varying therapeutic properties, helping us to relax better, bath salts and oils can also deliver natural benefits to our skin and muscles. Ditch plastic bottles with chemical laden, SLS loaded bubble bath, and elevate your bath with nature.
Take some time to work out where you need to make a change. Once you discover that you're neglecting a certain aspect of your life, create a plan for change.
Don’t try and tackle everything all at once. Identify one small step or change you can take to begin caring for yourself better. Now, schedule some time to focus on your needs. Even when you feel like you don't have time to squeeze in one more thing, make self-care a priority. When you're caring for all aspects of yourself, you'll find that you are able to operate more effectively and efficiently.