ABC of Self Care

ABC of Self Care

Most of us have heard the term ‘self-care’; it is regularly mentioned on TV, branded all over social media, brought up in conversations especially when the topic of discussion is related to some sort of distress.

But what is self-care?

Self-care is the act of paying attention to and engaging in practices that promote mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
Self-care is a fundamental part of our being; it increases awareness of ourselves and helps us nurture areas of our lives in ways that are individually meaningful and restorative.

It is important to note that self-care is an individual practice. What may be considered self-care for me, may differ and not be relevant to you.

Let’s look at some self-care myths:

  • It is selfish.
  • It is about indulgence.
  • It is time consuming.
  • It means saying no to every request.
  • It is only for women.
  • It is a temporary fix.
  • it is expensive.

Self-care is none of the above. It is not a specific activity, just for women, and it need not be expensive. Self- care is about replenishing, restoring, and nurturing ourselves. Almost everything we do uses up some sort of energy, this can be emotional, physical, or mental.  It is important that as we do and give, we are refilling ourselves.

Self-care helps to boost our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, improve overall functioning. It should be a priority and intentionally incorporated into our daily lives.

Benefits of self-care:

  • Improves our relationship with ourselves; attending to and meeting our own needs helps us develop a healthy relationship with ourselves.
  • Prioritizing ourselves, reinforces the important the message that we are valued, deserved to be cared for, thus improving our security and sense of worth.
  • Places us in a better position to support those around us -‘you cannot give what you do not have’.
  • It can set the template of how others should treat with us – with respect, dignity and care.
  • Helps us to do our job more effectively – as we are not working from a place of burn out, we are more likely to have mental clarity and physically able to work to our optimum.
  • Reduces stress, and other issues that can lead to mental health difficulties.
  • Improves self-awareness and understanding of ourselves.

ABC is a helpful acronym to remind you of the importance of self-care:

  • Attend to my
  • Basic needs
  • Consistently

The key message here is ensuring our basic mental, physical, social, spiritual, and emotional needs are regularly attended to and met, in order for us to be our best self.

Here are 5 key areas of self-care and TIPS to improve your wellbeing:

  • Mental – setting realistic goals, prioritising the things you need, engaging in mentally stimulating activities, taking a break from things that are mentally taxing and exhausting, taking regular screen and social media breaks, practicing mindfulness.
  • Physical – rest, adequate sleep (this may vary for each individual, 7- 9 hours, or the amount that you need that helps you feel good and well rested), healthy eating, going to your physician when unwell and following their recommended treatment plans.
  • Social -regular and meaningful connections, engaging in activities that you are good at and enjoy, sharing positive experiences with others.
  • Spiritual – meditation, prayer, connecting with your belief system.
  • Emotional – practising gratitude daily, journaling, deep breathing to help regulate emotions and promote a state of calm. Seeking support from a professional therapist when you are struggling.

Lastly, self-care practices are not static, they can be practiced anywhere and can change with time. For example, moving to a new city may mean you’re unable to physically visit your family – a meaningful interaction may look like scheduling time to have a video call.

It is important that our self-care practises reflect who we are, our unique needs and the season of life we are in.

When to seek extra support?

If you notice you are struggle with managing your emotional or mental health, it may be helpful to seek specialist support.  A therapist can help you make sense of your difficulties and develop a plan that is suited to meeting your needs.

Written by: Dr Bisi Laniyan
Clinical Psychologist at Sage Clinics

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