Caring for Ourselves, So We Can Care for Others
Self-care. Self-care. Self-care. If you’ve spent more than thirty seconds on social media in the last ten years, you’ve seen this two-word phrase a million times. Especially since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the concept of self-care has exploded in popularity. For some, self-care is the hour every morning they set aside to practice yoga. For others, it’s cancelling all obligations one night and plopping down on the couch to watch Netflix.
Many people confuse self-care with selfishness or self-indulgence, when, in fact, the importance of self-care is being the best version of yourself so you can help others. Think of it like an oxygen mask on a plane—you need to put your own mask on before assisting others. If you push yourself too far or stretch yourself too thin, you’ll end up being less effective in your personal life and at work.
Caring for Your Emotional Health
Self-care takes many forms, but at the center, self-care is about making it easier to handle daily stressors, explains Kelsey Patel, a wellness expert and author. “People are feeling lonelier and less able to unwind and slow down, which makes them feel more anxious and overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks.” If we’re not checking in with ourselves to see how we’re doing, to-do lists start to feel monumental.
There are simple ways that we can call care for our emotional health. You can start by taking a break from electronics once a week. Or, make sure you’re going to bed early enough to get enough sleep. Try meditating; for beginners, there are apps and videos with hours of guided meditation. Slowly sipping on a cup of warm tea can be a great place to start calming your mind. Give yourself permission to say “no” to things that cause unnecessary stress. The bake sale will be fine without six dozen of your famous homemade cookies and the weekly friends dinner will still be there next Sunday when you’re feeling better. Finally, be kind to yourself. This may sound easy, but people are naturally their own worst critic. This is the most important step of all for self-care and it may be the most difficult. Recognize that you are doing your best, and your best is more than enough.
Don’t Neglect Your Physical Health
Physical and emotional health feed off of each other. Getting a massage can help relax your mind and lead to a relaxation response. This prevents chronic stress, which can lead to a weakened immune system, frequent colds, and high blood pressure and stomach ulcers. And, of course, healthy diet and exercise will give you more energy for all other aspects of your life. Never underestimate how good just being outside in the fresh air can be for you!
Some people mistakenly think self-care can take the form of eating whatever sugary snacks they want without consequences. While you should never feel guilty about enjoying an extra slice of chocolate cake once in a while, an unhealthy diet is not self-care. A well-balanced diet is fuel that your body craves. Fortunately, there are plenty of treats filled with nutrients that taste just as good as, if not better than, chocolate cake. Protein Power Balls, made from oats and granola, look and taste like a batch of homemade cookies, but are packed with enough protein to power your workout. For those looking to stave off colds and fevers, Herbal Zap is a vegan and kosher herbal supplement that boosts immune health.
The Limits of Self-Care
We’ve touched briefly on some misconceptions of self-care. More often than not, the negative social association with self-care comes when healthy practices transform into selfish ones. This can work both for someone who spent three weekends in a row watching 48 hours of TV or someone who is burning themselves out by running 15 miles every day. The key, as with most things in life, is moderation. You might need a little more or a little less than the person next to you, so adjust your exercise, your meditation, your binge watching, your diet for you. The only expert on you is you, so listen to your body! You will know when self-care turns into overindulging. Even then, continue to be kind to yourself by resetting and restarting your self-care journey.
Healthy Snacks for your Family
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