What is self-care? What does it mean to take care of one’s self?
If you are an adult with children still living at home, or if you have elderly parents, you probably know how exhausting it can be to take care of others. The thought of adding one more person to the list (you!) might sound ridiculous. Here are some tips to turn self-care into relief:
- Begin with acknowledging your right to self-care. It is NOT a luxury. It is not “pampering”.
- Next, think about what you need. Specifically, what are your physical and emotional needs? What do you need to feel good physically? How much sleep, food, play, sex, entertainment, and challenge do you need to feel your best?
- What do you need to feel your best emotionally? What/who makes you feel loved? What/who makes you feel valued? There are four basic emotions that most people describe as “negative”: sad, mad, ashamed, scared. Thinking about each one, what is most helpful to you when you feel sad, mad, etc…? What is least helpful to you?
- Make a list of your needs (#2 and #3 above) and discuss with a close friend or therapist. Organizing your thoughts (the list) and hearing yourself say them out loud (the discussion) are important steps in reframing self-care from “luxury” to “right”.
- Now, consider what you know about your own body/brain and how you function best. Are you a morning person? Night owl? Snacker/grazer? Own up to your natural preferences. Is there any way to modify your schedule or responsibilities to fit your natural preferences? At the very least, can you make peace with just being who you are?
- If you are overburdened with responsibilities, chances are that people see you as someone who is reliable and capable. That means that others will ask for your input and support on a regular basis. In turn, this means that you must be able to say “no” often. Pick a day this coming week that will be your “No Day”. Make a promise to yourself that you will say no to ANY extra requests, favors, or projects. Is it hard for you to say no? It will continue to be hard unless you PRACTICE. Get comfortable with saying no by declaring “No Day” once a week until it comes easily to you. Two rules for “No Day”: a) you must tell at least one person it is “No Day” and ask them to support you or hold you accountable (whichever suits you better). b) Issues of safety and emergency situations are of course excluded.
- Congratulations! You just spent several minutes taking care of yourself by reading this article! See how easy that was?