These past few weeks we’ve been sharing with you some effective self-care techniques. I hold the importance of self-care as a self-evident truth, however, I realize that it just may be possible that some of you out there are wondering, "Why do I need this?" So, this week we will explore, what is self-care, why do we need it, and what does it do for us?
Put simply, self-care is the maintenance of one's personal well-being and health. Every person has a different set of needs when it comes to health and/or well-being, so self-care may look different to different folks. Of course, we all have physical selves, and non-physical selves. In philosophy, self-care refers to the care and cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self.
So what is self-care? It’s whatever you want it to be! Or whatever your “self” needs it to be. In this blog, we’ve talked about self-care in the form of proper hydration, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and taking care of your (tired) hands. Self-care basically just means taking the time to listen to your body, and letting it tell you what it needs. And then, importantly, act on it! Attend to your needs! No, we’re not telling you to be selfish or gobble up all of the available resources. We are telling you that it’s ok to attend to your needs, and reminding you that you will be better able to care for others once your own needs are met. In fact, self-care can actually make you more effective and improve your energy!
Which brings me to my next point. We all need self-care, all the time. But some of us need extra self-care, more often. Either we’re feeling vulnerable because of our body’s hormonal fluctuations, we’re under a stressful deadline at work, or we’re going through a period of adjustment or grieving. Maybe we’re spending all of our time and resources caring for someone who has difficulty caring for themselves. When we are caring for others, self-care becomes exponentially, vitally important.
Even a few minutes taken out of a stressful day for a quick soak in a bath, a short walk through nature, or asking for help when you need it (and saying "no" when you need to) can help reaffirm your sense of self-worth. Attending to yourself and listening to your needs is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with you. Your new habit of taking care of yourself can help improve confidence and self-esteem too.
Self-care is also an important mirror for the people around you. Humans are social animals, taking cues from everyone around us. Setting functional boundaries to take care of yourself shows others that they can self-care too, and signals to them that they have your support to do so.