You’ve probably heard the saying "You can't pour from an empty cup"? As adults, we often find ourselves juggling a dozen and one responsibilities, leaving little room to take a breather, to take time for ourselves. In the vibrant whirlwind of adulthood, where days merge into nights and coffee/caffeine can become a primary food group, it's easy to neglect the one thing that ties everything together - ourselves. But what if we could recalibrate? What if the secret to surviving and thriving while in the very act of cherishing our well-being? It's vital to understand the significance of self-care, especially in the midst of life's chaos. Let’s delve deep into this self-care along with how to reprioritize and what stops us from putting ourselves first (for once) today!
What is Self-Care?
At its core, self-care is the deliberate act of prioritizing our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. It’s not just about spa days or weekend getaways (though, hey, they’re awesome too!). It's about creating an environment and a lifestyle where you can flourish. It's recognizing when you need a break, setting boundaries, nourishing your soul, and taking steps to maintain or improve your health.
What Gets in the Way of Self-Care?
The Guilt Game: Many of us feel guilty prioritizing ourselves, maybe feeling we don’t deserve it or we are “selfish” for doing anything related to self-care. Self-care isn’t about being self-centered, it’s about self-preservation. It’s like the old saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.
The Busy Badge: Being busy has somehow become a status symbol in our society. I used to keep a quote on my desk, seeing it constantly throughout the day that read “good things come to those who hustle” and you know what, I used to LOVE that quote and thought of it as being so true. I ended up getting rid of that as I found it didn’t apply to me nor was what I wanted. Why do only good things have to come to me when I hustle, good things can come other times too.
Perfectionism: The desire to do everything perfectly can lead to procrastination. Instead, aim for progress, not perfection. You may find that you have to do self-care “right”, and honestly, there is no one right way.
Neglect: Not recognizing the importance of self-care, thus putting it off. You may see self-care as another chore or task that is going to take time away from doing other things.
External Pressure: The demands from work, family, or society to constantly perform or achieve.
How to Reprioritize Self-Care?
Awareness First: Recognize that self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity. If you’re burnt out, you can't give your best to anyone, let alone yourself. Bringing awareness not only to needing self-care but WHEN you need it such as tuning more into your body or your mental acuity.
Schedule It: Mark it on your calendar, set reminders, or allocate specific times in your day for self-care. Use your schedule to your advantage when setting up your self-care.
Start Small: You don’t need a week-long vacation. Sometimes, just a 10-minute meditation or a walk around the block can make all the difference.
Boundaries are Beautiful: Learn to say no. It's not about being selfish; it's about self-preservation. And saying no to events or reprioritizing what needs to be done.
The Golden Benefits of Self-Care:
So let’s check out the benefits of self-care… here are just a few:
Improved Physical Health: Regular self-care practices, like exercise or eating well, boost the immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and overall illnesses.
Better Mental Health: Time dedicated to self-care can help manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. It can even help with your thought processes, too often we jam pack our days and may leave us feeling some brain fog in doing so.
Enhanced Self-Esteem: When you invest time in yourself, it reinforces the belief that you are valuable and worth the effort. Because you are - you deserve to put yourself first even some of the time!
Increased Productivity: Believe it or not, taking breaks and having “me-time” can actually enhance your efficiency in the long run! Seriously, try it sometime, I find that most of my ideas come from self-care time, like taking a hike or a walk around the block.
Why Take a Mental Health Day?
Just as our bodies need rest after physical exertion, our minds require time to reset after periods of intense stress or emotional turbulence. A mental health day is a dedicated day to recharge, reflect, and rejuvenate. It's a reminder that it's okay to press pause, to regain clarity and come back with renewed vigor. Even if it is hard to recognize when is a good time to have more preventative mental health days, knowing that you need it is key and important. Any amount of time towards mental health is helping your mental health.
How Can a Therapist Help?
While self-care strategies are vital, there are times when professional guidance can make all the difference. Therapists provide:
Safe Spaces: A judgment-free zone to express and explore your feelings. This also includes ways to identify and navigate challenges that get in the way of self-care. (Also therapy is part of self-care for mental health).
Strategies & Tools: A therapist will tailor techniques to manage stress, anxiety, and other challenges that you face.
Perspective: Sometimes, an objective viewpoint can offer clarity in confusing times. You are to close to your situation and a therapist helps ‘pane out” to see a larger picture or other details.
Looking for a therapist to help with stress management and self-care? Discover the convenience of online therapy with Better Minds Counseling & Services. We specialize in assisting adults with stress through our virtual mental health practice. Brittany Webb, LPC CCATP, a certified clinical anxiety treatment expert and licensed professional counselor, is ready to help you enhance your self-care toolbox! Schedule your free introductory session with her today!
Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.