Hands up if you find yourself thinking that having time for yourself seems indulgent or selfish?
As the craziness of the silly season approaches us, self-care is often the first thing that gets sacrificed when life gets busy.
But it is exactly when we need it.
So, what is self-care?
Self-care is hard to define as there is not a “one size fits all” approach to maintaining and improving health and wellbeing. If we had to define self-care, it could be defined as the activities and practices that we deliberately choose to engage in and enjoy doing on a regular basis to maintain and enhance our health and wellbeing.
It’s the thing that fills our cup.
Self-care is often neglected as we feel as though we should be taking care of others before worrying about ourselves. Some of you may have heard of the airplane oxygen mask analogy, put your own mask on first. That is because it is hard to help anyone else if you’re not ok.
Self-care can be a simple daily activity. Different people benefit from self-care activities and actions in different ways. First, work out what activities and or actions are the most beneficial to you. Second you need to integrate it into your daily or weekly activity. I have found great success in helping people come up with a self-care plan.
Self-care is something we deliberately choose to engage in and enjoy doing on a regular basis.– Bridget Veld, Mental Health Social Worker
Integrating self-care into your life doesn’t have to be some big task or activity. Spending 5 minutes doing a breathing technique, waking up half an hour earlier so that you have time to go for a walk, making an exceptional coffee and drinking it before it gets cold!
Everybody has a different idea of what they would classify as self-care, one person’s idea of self-care might be completely different than someone else’s. Sure, listen to others for their tips but ask yourself, what activity gives you joy?
And there is a medical reason why self-care is an effective tool for better mental health. Research suggests that integrating self-care into one’s life can reduce stress and help avoid the feeling of being burnt out.
For example, if meditation is your self-care habit, research published in Psychiatry Research, shows that 8 weeks of mindfulness training can lead to improved changes in the brain areas involved with learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.
It is also important to remember that self-care isn’t designed to be used as an emergency stress relief technique. Self-care is something that is incorporated into everyday life to maintain positive health and wellbeing. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, please seek further medical help.
Written by Bridget Veld, Mental Health Social Worker
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