What is self-care and why is it important?

Does self-care come in the form of a face mask?

There is a lot of talk about self-care lately, and there are differing opinions on just what that entails. Self-care simply means focusing a little bit more on yourself, taking time to do something extra, or doing nothing at all. It is acknowledging your boundaries and thinking about what is best for yourself to make you feel better that day or at that moment.

For me, self-care means slowing down and making a point to take some me-time. Now I am a fan of a face mask, if I have achieved nothing extra in a day except a facemask, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m okay with that. Sometimes even thinking about stopping for 15-minutes can feel impossible. So, a face mask isn’t just good for your skin, it makes you stop for a moment and give yourself a little TLC. But sometimes a face mask isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to stop, take stock and truly think about what you need. What are you lacking and deliver on what needs attention, mentally, emotionally, and physically?

Self-care can be described as deliberately taking care of your wellbeing through restorative activities. One of the greatest threats to our wellbeing is physical and emotional stress. Stress is one of the leading causes of healthcare issues and we experience it EVERYDAY. Are you serious? I hear you and yes it is true.

What triggers stress?

Our thoughts. The choices we make throughout our day. Sugar, alcohol, excessive caffeine, and processed foods. This stress impacts our immune system and our energy levels.

It is imperative we not only do the fashionable trendy self-care bits like spa days and face masks but also the tasks that feel more tedious. Essentially we need our self-care practices to do the opposite of what stresses us out. A lack of self-care can lead to burnout. If your self-care is binging Netflix after work every day, grabbing one too many takeaways then you aren’t caring for yourself as best as you can.

When you look after yourself everything becomes lighter, the difficulties in life subside a tad, we tackle shit head-on and become more self-aware and resilient. Doesn’t that sound fab? I’d say it sounds a bit overwhelming. So let’s dig into how we can practice self-care and take on the world.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

How to practice self-care?

The basics can be broken down into four restorative practices. Diet, stillness, movement, and time in nature.

Start with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, packed with nutrients. Limit caffeine and sugar. Lean towards water, decaffeinated tea, and coffee. Think about the food you consume more consciously. I’ve gotten into the habit of googling the benefits of the foods I eat so it feels like I’m doing more than curbing a hunger craving. Did you know watermelon is good for your hair and nails? Mind blown.

Find small moments of stillness and silence. I know this can be hard if you have children, pets, etc. But even if it’s taking a few extra deeps breaths when sat on the loo. Think about how many times you wee a day that would add up to at least 5-10 minutes. Sounds like a good start to me. We are bombarded by the noise every day, traffic, tv, social media, the voice in our head. We have roughly 60,000 thoughts a day and for most of us, 80% are negative. When we sit in silence we create more awareness and can observe our thoughts, learning which ones to hold onto and which ones to let go of. Commit to 5-minutes a day. Your negative Nancy (apologies for anyone called Nancy it’s just play on words…promise) voice will quiet. Sit comfortable on your couch, the toilet, you can lay down. Get as comfy as possible without falling asleep, close your eyes, breathe and be.

Add in movement. It can be dancing, yoga, walking. Our bodies were MADE TO move. Movement creates endorphins that help us sleep. Just 10-minutes a day makes a difference. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube provides 30-day yoga challenges which are amazing and very rarely more than half an hour long. There are a few yummy gems where you lay down for most of the time with a few downwards dogs and connect back to yourself….you can thank me later.

Time in nature. According to environmental psychology time in nature improves our mood, reduces low mood, and improves cognitive function. WOW. We spend 90% time of our lives indoors. This small change of getting your bum out of the house is an amazing opportunity to improve our wellbeing by simply going outside. Slip off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the grass. The term for this is earthing. Earthing can reduce inflammation in the body, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and improves circulation.

When you combine these activities and practice them daily, you will see an increase in your mood, energy, and overall happiness.

Just 30-minutes a day on top of a diet rich in nutrients. In a year that’s over 180 hours practicing self-care. A little can go a long way.

If you’re concerned about not having enough time. Start by looking at the hours you spend in front of the tv or scrolling through social media. I’m guilty of it. Sometimes I set my journal out with the best intentions and get lost on social media for half an hour. We’re human, first comes self-awareness and realising where we’re letting ourselves go on autopilot then comes action and consistency.

It’s not just about a spa day, insta posts. It’s about showing up for yourself every day. The possibilities for yourself are endless. But flaunting a spa day on Instagram can’t hurt.

Happy self-care.

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