Self-care is something that is often seen thrown around in social Medias and internet and yet hugely misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Curiosity has got us wondering – what exactly is this self-care.
World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as – “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”.
As the word and above definition suggests, self-care is about taking up of any actions that attends and prioritize your physical, emotional and mental health. Self-care enables one to experience positive health outcomes – longevity, managing stress, building resilience, boosting your immunity.
Self-care is being attuned to your body in such a way that you become conscious and aware when it is in need of nourishment and care for it to function optimally. Self-care is a necessity, where in,you value, give care and importance to your body, mind, life in a meaningful way so that you are available to support and attend to others.
There are many folds into self-care. Self-care can involve – emotional, practical, spiritual, physical, mental, social self-care types.
International Self Care Foundation (ISF) proposes a seven pillar framework for self-care.
There are many more classifications and types of self-care that one may come across. The intention is to provide a basic idea or directional framework for one to build on their own self care practices.
The wrong idea
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding the practise of self-care.
- Self-care is expensive and time consuming
- Self-care is only possible for people with enough money and time
- Self-care is selfish and self-indulgence
- And many more………
In addition to this, these days the idea of self-care, as sold or projected by social medias – through the culture of diet, weight loss plans, skin care routines, products, services etc. – creates a harmful thought of inadequacy within ourselves, that there is something wrong within us, that we need fixing. This environment creates a negative thought spiral in people – about us not achieving our goals or plans, that we are lazy and procrastinators, presence of a particular standard that is to be achieved – which lead to a shame spiral and that we are not good enough in some or the other ways. What this product based industry sells in the name of self-care is the idea that one has to work hard to be worthy of any semblance of self-care.
When in reality, self-care is all about exactly opposite of this picture.
Some suggestions on routines you can follow……..
The secret is to take conscious effort and start small and build up from there. Give it the same importance as you give to your everyday schedule and habits. And follow up your self-care practice as something you mindfully enjoy doing rather than as a daily chore.
- Sleep sleep sleep.
Sleep is a very important part of your 24 hrs. time. A healthy adult should get an average of 8 hrs. sleep. Sleep helps you to restore your energy, consolidates your memory, improves learning, lower risk of any heart diseases and reduce stress. Sleep gives rest and replenish your body and mind. So go ahead and prioritize your sleep time.
- The word ‘No’
Saying no is important. Prioritizing your needs and rest does not mean that you are selfish. Keep in mind that your time and needs are also important, prioritizing your self-care is also important, so that you have more energy to attend to your loved ones. Saying no is a form of self-care, one which can be put into practice slowly into our everyday life. This can be put across politely, by being clear of your unavailability, through proper communication to the other person.
- Move around
Movement is important. Especially if you are someone who have to spends a lot of time in front of laptops, digital equipment, desk job, office with lot of sitting time. Sitting for prolonged times in one single position can lead to muscle stiffness, pain, restricted movements causing joint pains, restricted blood flow to your body parts. So be aware and make sure to stretch those legs, body, and move around, do light warming up, aerobic exercises to keep your body healthy and rejuvenated.
- Unplug from the screen time
If you are in the habit of spending a large part of your time scrolling social media or in general in front of screen time, sometimes taking a break can be very helpful. Yes, it’s true we are living in the digital age and we are dependent on these gadgets for a lot of things. But make sure to give your eyes and brain some rest from the constant screen time. Consciously and mindfully try to schedule and manage your screen time. Keep rules for yourself, allot time for these separately from your schedule, get help of a friend as reminders to keep in check the over use.
- Practice gratitude
Early in the morning, after you get up, note down five things for which you are grateful. Practice this daily. Gratitude practice can help foster a hopeful positive outlook to life, develops resilience. It can be anything – for the clothes you have, to food, people in your life and many more.
Building and maintaining quality intimate relationships with your friends, loved ones, family or any other social group can be very beneficial in building resilience and stress management. These relationships can act as your personal source of validation, support, affection. Therefore it’s important to choose with whom you can build such relationship with where both your needs are clearly communication, boundaries are set, and there is safe space and respect maintained.
- Seeking help
Asking for help can be bravest thing you can do for yourself. Therapy is a form of self-care – mental self-care. Everyone has their own set of challenges to face. Each have their own unique set of experiences, thoughts, feelings and their own ways of facing the challenges and obstacles. But there can be times where you feel overwhelmed or feel exhausted or unable to manage these challenges. At times like these it’s ok to seek help in the form of therapy or counselling as your self-care option. Therapy as self-care can help you connect with your inner self, be able to face the obstacles and become the best healthy version of yourself.
My two cents…….
There can be a single universal definition to the word, self-care. But any person can give their own meaning to develop their own version of self-care. It’s important that each person reflect and develop their own understanding of the word self-care.
This self-reflected meaning of self-care can be flexible. It could mean something to you on a Monday morning, but can also have a different meaning, purpose to it on a Tuesday. The goal for giving your own meaning and practice of self-care is to fulfill your needs in sync with your resources. Thus coming up with your given meaning to self-care for the day, you can decide and attend to your need of the day in the best possible way you know – you can alter your self-care practice to include your needs for the day. The ultimate aim is to improve your life, your health and peace.
There is no right, wrong or perfect ways to engage in self-care routines. It is meant for your growth, your care. You get to decide what is right for you – You do you!
At last but not the least, you matter. You are this unique person with your own beauty, energy, presence, values, abilities, talent and even your own shortcomings that add so much meaning and beauty to others lives as well. You matter and hence so does your self-care.
For me, today’s meaning of self-care is –“ to realize and admit to myself when I need break, instead of overworking and that it is totally ok to attend to my needs”
What is yours….?