Self-care is a term that’s bandied about quite often in various publications and websites these days, but what does it actually mean? Catherine Schulte reports.
Many of us forget to look after ourselves, especially when we’re caring for others. But the experts are all urging us to take self-care seriously for the sake of our mental health.
The question is, what is self-care? And how do we make it work for ourselves when we are so busy?
According to website Everymind, self-care refers to “activities undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress.”
And who doesn’t want more energy, better health and less stress?
Make it personal.
There are many ways to do this, and self-care can be personalised for every individual.
“Self-care can also be about processing emotional reactions to our life and doing things we might find difficult, such as asking for help, “ the website says.
In recent years there has been a marked shift in our thinking toward mental health, with a growing focus on the word ‘resilience’.
What is resilience?
Resilience is all about our “capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”.
Another word for resilience is ‘toughness’ or elasticity – that is, the ability to bounce back from tough situations.
Our levels of resiliency will change and develop throughout our life, and at points, we will find that we do not cope as well as others, as well as surprising ourselves when we manage a difficult situation.
Take the pressure down.
With an increase in people suffering from depression and anxiety, medication prescriptions on the rise, and more of us talking openly about our personal experiences, there are now many discussions about what can be done to alleviate the pressure people are feeling.
So, essentially we really do need to be looking after ourselves better, no matter how time-poor we are.
But how do we care for ourselves when we’re so chronically busy? There are heaps of ways to do it, but we must remember to do it regularly. Life in Mind Australia lists a few easy ways to get started:
1. Care for your body.
– Make time for activities you enjoy and which help you relax. Do you enjoy colouring-in? Cooking? Scrapbooking?
– Monitor and manage your stress in positive ways e.g. practice meditation and walking.
– Ensure you have enough sleep and rest every night.
2. Care for your relationships.
– Spend time with family and friends. Close personal relationships are essential for wellbeing.
– Recognise when you need help from others and ask for support. This can especially important during challenging times. Why not ask for help from friends, family, a GP, a psychologist, or another health professional?
3. Assess your work-life balance
– Try to achieve a balance between your professional role and your personal life, and leave space outside of work for things you enjoy. Decide how much time you need to make for both areas of life, and stick to your plan.
– Get involved and join a group with common interests, such as the groups run by South Eastern Community Connect.
4. Nurture your spirituality
– If you have spiritual beliefs, take time for a regular spiritual practice or spend time with others who share your beliefs.
The key to success is finding the right balance for yourself, discovering what works, and managing the time to do it.
Take the time when you need to, and listen to what your body is telling you.
Investing the time in yourself is always worth it.