Striking the right balance of self-care is a highly fluid yet attainable practice, unique to every person.
It requires increased attention and flexibility so that you can make small tweaks and changes as needed. Self-care should not be mistaken for self-indulgence or selfishness; it is a basic human need, necessary to maintain our own physical and emotional well-being and that of others. It helps combat feelings of depletion and emptiness and enables us to be better role models to those we care for.
Through increased self-care you will feel:
- Energized and fulfilled
- Well-equipped to tackle various tasks
- More giving and less resentful
- Assertive and less apologetic
- Accepting of your own limits and that of others
- Better connected with yourself and those around you
All of us can benefit from increased self-prioritization; even small additions can have a profound impact. In this article, I outline practical tips to improve self-care.
Top 5 Self-Care Tips:
Put a Lid on Excessive Guilt
- Excessive guilt is another way to describe the voice of an inner critic, similar to a bully that will not quiet or leave us alone.
- Intense feelings of guilt impede healthy self-care efforts and must be managed in order to live a happy and healthy life.
- It is important to work through guilty feelings that are excessive to a situation, as they tend to sit and fester, causing negative emotional and physical outcomes.
- Manage your guilt or inner critic by developing a kinder and more forgiving internal monologue. Be patient with yourself and practice self-compassion.
- Remind yourself that you cannot please everyone; seeking everyone else’s approval instead of your own never proves to be a worthwhile endeavor.
Respect Your Inner Voice
- Learn your boundaries well as you would the roads that lead back to home.
- Understand your inner-feelings, anxieties, comforts, and triggers, so that you can develop and connect with your internal barometer.
- An internal barometer is an inner voice that tends to be soft and yielding in some individuals. The key is to make this a more assertive voice.
- Your internal barometer will help you determine your boundaries in a given situation and tell you what you are comfortable and less comfortable with.
- Respect your inner voice and handle it with care. For example, if you feel uneasy or highly uncomfortable in a given situation, it is important to attend to your discomfort so that you can handle it with care.
- Well-established boundaries will enable you to say “no” or “yes” comfortably, “please do not do that,” or “I need time to decide.” For example, you may decide that you are comfortable doing a double shift at work twice per month but highly uncomfortable working in excess without notice.
Honor Your Needs
- Develop realistic expectations of yourself and others and communicate them openly and consistently.
- We all have different self-care needs, and those needs will develop and change over time. Recognize these needs and continue to share them.
- It is especially important to communicate your self-care needs with those close to you. The people who love and support you will appreciate your honest and direct approach.
- Set yourself and your loved ones up for success. Teach yourself and those close to you how to better care for you by being specific, patient and proactive. Reminding a loved one or yourself to complete an activity or action of care is helpful and kind.
- As you become clear about your emotional and self-care needs and attend to them with greater acceptance, others will follow.
Connect with Yourself
- Take a few minutes and locate your inner voice, every day.
- Check in with yourself and take stock of your emotional state. You can best care for yourself when you are aware of your internal experience.
- If you are feeling low and struggling to get through your day, take a self-care break. Take a fifteen-minute break; acknowledge and feel your feelings and treat yourself with kindness. Breathe, stretch, listen to music, or go for a short walk. Validate your feelings and heal.
- Be present during proud moments. Take time to connect with a positive experience, internalize the feeling and let it sink in. Place it in your memory bank so that you may access it at a later time.
- Feeling satisfied is an important point of contact, both within yourself and in your relationships. Sit with yourself and ask yourself if you are satisfied with your day, or with a conversation or even a meal last prepared. You may try to tweak a situation or accept it for now. Tolerating feelings of dissatisfaction may be tough but can lead to wonderful insights and greater acceptance of yourself and others. Remind yourself that you have done your best and your best is good enough.
Practical Lessons in Self-Care
- Routinely engage in self-care practices that work for you, keep them in your repertoire, and, at the same time, remember to try something new.
- Get down to the basics; great self-care activities do not have to be fancy. Just fifteen minutes of deep breathing, stretching, reading, sitting outside, or walking can make a difference.
- Prioritize yourself whenever and wherever. We all require self-care in different doses. If you find yourself away or with a group, plan ahead and get creative. Once you find a break in the program, take the first ten minutes for yourself, you can always catch up with the group after.
- On vacation, make sure to plan one activity that you enjoy. Carve out one hour doing exactly what you want to do. Of course, communicate this ahead of time and provide reminders so as to avoid confusions and miscommunications.
- Remember: Giving when you’re already depleted leads to feelings of resentment, emptiness, and dissatisfaction; giving when you have enough in reserve leads to greater fulfillment, joy and interpersonal satisfaction.
Prioritize and nourish yourself. Your stability enables better performance in all areas of your life. To practice self-care, treat yourself well, assert healthy boundaries, honor yourself, and stay connected. Start slow, even small additions can have a significant impact.
What acts of self-care might you add to your everyday life? What self-care habits would you like to implement right away? Please share them with us in the comments section below!
– Dr. Ariela