125 Fairfield Way Ste 380 Bloomingdale, IL 815.295.5470 erinredfern@essentiallyyoucounseling.com

When it comes to self-care, what kind of things come to mind?  Do you engage in self-care?  Are you able to define what it means to care for self?  Self-care has been defined as providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001).  That sounds interesting, but what does that really mean?  Let’s break it down a little further.

Taking care of self is one of the most essential things we can do for our own mental well-being, however, it is something that many of us do not engage in.  There are many benefits to taking time for yourself and engaging in activities that will be conducive to creating an environment that is less stressful and more meaningful for ourselves.

Some people are of the mindset that their lives are too busy to take time for themselves.  At the same time, those same people might be so stressed that they lose time off from work from being sick or struggle just to get through the day.  Then at the end of the day, are so worn out, they may engage in unhealthy behaviors.  Importance must be made to make time for yourself a priority so that you can engage in everyday life more fully and feel much better.  One of the biggest concerns may be what is self-care?  What can I do for myself that will allow me to have this energy I crave and feeling of wellness I seek.

Self-care means so many different things to different people, but I would like to start with this.  It does not have to be a big thing that you do that could potentially overwhelm you in the end.  Good intentions like exercising everyday may be just the thing for one person, but may stress out another person, yet they may put that as their goal.  Then when they strive to keep exercising day after day, they get wiped out and, in the end, feel even more drained.  So, what does self-care look like for you?  Little changes can create big results.

Some options may be engaging in yoga.  Yoga has physical as well as psychological benefits.  It releases stress and tension in the body.  You don’t have to be a yoga expert to get the tension release from doing it.  Start out slow and do restorative yoga.  Restorative yoga is a type of yoga where poses are held longer than the conventional yoga exercise classes.  It is meant to relax the body and reduce stress.

Another form of self-care is meditation.  There are many meditation apps that help guide you in meditating.  You will also find meditation on YouTube.  Even just listening to music with your eyes closed is a form of meditation.  Meditation music can be found on both forums that I have mentioned.  Some of the benefits of meditation are seeing a stressful situation in a new perspective.  You could also increase your self-awareness.  Focusing on the present is one of the biggest benefits to meditation.  Instead of thinking about the past or worrying about the future, you are in the here and now, in the present moment.  Meditation reduces negative emotions.  It also increases your imagination and builds up your creativity.  It can also increase your patience and tolerance.

If yoga or meditation do not appease you, there are small things in your day that you can do to enhance your self-care.  Sipping on a cup of tea, mindfully, smelling the tea, feeling the warmth of the cup in your hands, tasting it on your tongue and feeling the sensation of it as it goes down your throat.  Looking up at the sky and staring at the clouds, watching as they move slowly can create awareness and calm your senses.  Walking slowly, stopping where there is a view, and taking in everything by all your senses, touch, smell, sight.  This can even be done in your mind.  Closing your eyes, envision a place in your mind and place yourself there.  What do you see?  What do you hear?  What do you feel?  What do you taste?  What do you smell?  This can create a calming effect on your system and is a great self-care technique.

Whatever you choose to engage in for self-care, whether big or small, remember that you want to engage in something that will be your go-to when you need to create some space for yourself.  These are just a few suggestions, there are many others.  The important thing is to find what works for you and incorporate it into your life.