What is self-care?
Self-care, just as the name says, means treating yourself with kindness and compassion. It is any action that helps your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth or well-being. In this internet age, driven by people wanting to have it all, there is constant pressure to look and act in a certain way, have a lot of money, and have every part of your life put together. Self-care helps you to not only pause and reset but also to re-arrange the things that truly matter.
Why is it important?
Getting caught up in the cruel cycle of society and its expectations by allowing both outer and inner pressure and criticism in puts your emotional, mental, and physical health at risk. Self-care tends to improve our health, add to positive thinking and make us less open to stress, depression, anxiety, and other health problems, according to Living Self Care.
There are different type of self-care.
No, this isn’t another way of telling you to join a gym or go on a trendy diet, all to reach some lofty body goal. Self-care is about taking the pressure off and doing things that will improve how you feel. However, becoming fitter or losing some weight could help you feel better about yourself while improving your health.
To keep from getting overwhelmed, create realistic and easily attainable exercise goals to get you started. Overall: do what works for you.
For physical self-care try: going for walks to still your mind, not missing meals, drinking more water, taking long hot showers or baths, taking breaks for a short nap, getting seven and a half to nine hours of sleep every night, indulging in your favourite treat for a burst of endorphins, seeking care when you are unwell, and taking on less scary, more enjoyable forms of exercise like dancing.
This type of self-care is highly personal and means different things for different people. However, most emotional stress can be fixed by simply removing or separating yourself for some time.
We often don't realize how much social media we take in or how much of what we take in affects us. If you find yourself questioning and criticizing every part of your life, then chances are the things you are taking in are negatively affecting your self-worth.
Next time you find yourself being down, then know it is time to disconnect. Take a day off and look around for a healthy dose of reality and an appreciation of it. It also helps to answer feelings of doubt, worthlessness and discontentment by practising regular gratitude. Replace 'I wish I had a body like hers' with 'I’m grateful for my health' and so on.
Withdrawing can help us manage our relationships. Relationships have a way of affecting our emotions more than most other parts of our life. They change our moods and outlook depending on how things are going, even if they shouldn’t. Sometimes, these changes and feelings can be overwhelming. And in those moments, taking some time away from the person or situation could help manage these emotions and even change your perspective.
For emotional self-care also try: meditation, journaling, finding things that make you laugh, complimenting yourself when you look in the mirror, allowing yourself to cry when you feel sad, spending time with loved ones, and re-reading/re-watching your favourite book or movie.
Remember saying 'No' to extra responsibilities, things that make you uncomfortable, or that you simply do not want to do. It's okay and will do you a world of good.
Mental health is so important because it affects every part of your life. Your mind needs the same amount of looking after as your body. It needs regular exercise and constant check-ups. Luckily, exercising your mind is as easy as doing a word puzzle, Sudoku, and reading a book or even an online article.
Maintaining you mental health is, unfortunately, not as straight-forward.
If you were unwell, you wouldn't hesitate to see a doctor. The same should apply to your mental health.
Many people have mental illnesses that go undiagnosed because of the social stigma associated with mental health and its treatment. The reality, however, is that, mental illnesses vary in seriousness, so not every sad and withdrawn person is depressed and not every unpredictable person is schizophrenic. According to the World health Organization, close to 800.000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds.
In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-old people globally. Instead of suffering in silence and self-harming for the sake of appearances, seek help and encourage others to do the same.
Although self-care may sound like pampering and spoiling yourself, it's also about doing those things that will make your life easier or better.
Finishing a project that is hard my stress you out in the short term but it will be good for you in the long-term. Ending bad relationships may affect you physically, emotionally and mentally but it will spare your long-term well-being. Like everything else, balance is the key.
What do you do for self-care? Tell us in the comment section below or leave a comment on our Facebook pages: Love Matters Africa and Naija.