Contributed by Tammera Bibbins LISW
Self - Care IS Self - Preservation
Self-care… We are beginning to hear that phrase more often. There is finally an understanding about how absolutely important self-care is for those who are in the helping profession. We, in the helping profession, spend much of our time and attention devoted to the care of others. And what about those not in the helping profession? Let’s look at our social context. We live in a capitalistic society that praises the movers and the shakers, the over achievers, and the Type A personalities. Our society emphasizes producing and doing. We have almost become a culture of Human Doings instead of Human Beings. So it’s no wonder that we continue to struggle with finding that just right balance. When we think of self-care, images of getting a massage, getting out with friends, and (at least for women) getting manicures and pedicures often come to mind. And now that we understand the importance, we are now being reminded how important it is that we take care of ourselves, manage our stress, and live as healthily as possible.
But are we really seeing the whole picture? Sure, massages and pedicures feel great to the body. Laughing and having a good time with friends is restorative, but there is a bigger picture that we often do not think about.
Self-care isn’t something you tick off your To-Do list once you’ve gone to a yoga class or had a massage. Self-care is a constant repetition of many tiny habits, which together soothe you and make sure you’re at your optimum—emotionally, physically, and mentally. We often don’t look at the emotional or mental side of self-care.
Here are some examples from each category:
- Regular exercise (walking, running, biking, weight training, yoga, etc)
- Maintaining healthy eating habits
- Consistently getting enough sleep (good sleep hygiene)
- Taking time off and letting your body recover when you are ill
- Having down time, period.
- Reducing the amount of people pleasing you engage in
- Setting boundaries in your work and relationships
- Saying and following through with “NO”
- Finding and nurturing those relationships that NURTURE you
- Exploring/engaging in your spiritual beliefs and community.
- Ridding yourself of toxic people and relationships.
- Practicing mindfulness
- Treating yourself (and others) with compassion
- Talking to a trained professional when it’s warranted
These are but a few ideas and I’m sure this list could be much longer. So as we move forward in our quest for Self-Care, let’s not to forget to see the whole picture.
What is Self-Care to you? Turning off the phone, computer and television after a certain hour. Using music to soothe instead of stimulate. Just listening to the sounds around you. Playing, reading a good book and using quiet time thinking positive thoughts. Often times our stress comes from within. The part of us that is unhappy and gets caught up in Shoulding all over ourselves. If we can be quiet and experience joy in those moments on a consistent basis, our selves are preserved much better.