What Is Self Care And Why Is It Key To Surviving Modern Life?
How often do you put yourself last? We think of self care as “nice to have,” selfish, and expensive. Life today is really stressful. That’s why self care is essential to staying happy and healthy. Here’s what you need to know in order to make self care a regular part of your life.
What is self care?
Self care is an umbrella term for anything that helps us get physically and emotionally healthy and helps us stay healthy.
What we consider self care changes as we get older. For example, when we’re younger, we have more time and money to devote to ourselves and our hobbies. Self care may have included weekly massages or frequent trips.
As we get older, we have more responsibilities and less money to spend on ourselves.
As a result, taking care of our health and sanity now may involve hiding in the bathroom for five minutes at the end of the day.
What doesn’t count as self care?
There are things people use in order to make bad feelings less intense or go away entirely. Some examples include drugs, alcohol, food, sex, shopping, and the internet.
These things make us feel better because they shut down feelings that we don’t want to deal with.
However, they don’t help us be physically and emotionally healthy. In fact, they tend to do the opposite.
Why is self care important in modern life?
My grandmother started every day by reading the newspaper, even when she worked full time. She got her hair done every Friday and ate healthy, homecooked meals every day.
These things were part of her life because they mattered to her. She didn’t view them as something she had to make time for.
Self care is something we have to talk about now because modern life is overwhelming.
We work more hours than ever and are exposed to more information than our brains can handle.
Our evenings, weekends, and vacations aren’t clearly defined anymore.
Self care is what gives us the energy to handle everything on our plate. The more we have to take care of, the quicker we go through your energy reserves.
Most of us don’t do enough self care to refill our energy supply every day. As a result, we get sick or injured more often and have trouble sleeping, losing weight, and having satisfying sex lives.
If we want to be happy and present in every area of our lives, we have to take care of ourselves every day.
Why is self care so hard?
Most of us know that we need to practice self care. We’ve read the blog posts and heard the podcasts. Here are three reasons that make self care hard to do:
- We believe self care is hard and expensive.
- It’s easy to break the promises we make to ourselves.
We’re the easiest person to cancel on. So what if we skip a nap or a workout? We’re sure we’ll be fine without them.
It’s harder to let someone else down because we worry more about what others think of us.
- We tend to think that taking care of our needs is selfish.
First, many of us learned that our needs don’t matter. Second, many of us learned that putting ourselves first means we’re bad people because good people put others first.
As a result of these beliefs and messages about how much we matter, we can justify putting our needs last. This is especially true for women and moms.
Easy self care activities
Self care doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to involve yoga retreats, meditation, or big vacations.
The best way to take care of your mind, emotions, and body is to do a core set of activities as often as possible. The closer you can get to doing these every day, the better.
Here are some self care activities to work into your schedule:
- Sleep 8 hours a day: Unless there is a newborn in the house, you have to get a full night’s sleep, every night (or as close to it as possible). If this is a problem, that’s a red flag and it’s time to consult a professional.
- Eat healthily: Focus on eating fewer processed foods and more natural foods like fruits and vegetables. For example, add a side salad to one meal or buy canned foods with less salt.
- Move your body: Aim for 30 minutes a day. Break it up into 10-minute chunks if you need to. Combining a few quick walks, climbing a few flights of stairs, and stretching will get you there pretty quickly.
- Make and keep doctors’ appointments: Get the tests, scans, and exams you are due for. Make sure you have had a physical within the past year. If you need treatment, get it. Now.
- Laugh: Studies show that laughing is a fantastic way to counter the effects of stress. Watch, read, or listen to something funny. Even a little laugh will go a long way.
You being ok is not negotiable.
Everything in your life falls apart if you crumble.
Start by focusing on one or two changes that will have the greatest impact quickly. For most people, this involves getting more sleep.
Don’t let your automatic response of canceling on yourself get in the way of your health.
When you have the thought to cancel on yourself, say no.
If you miss a day, just start up again the next day.
If you would like to learn more about managing stress, you can check out these helpful ideas.
When you’re ready to take care of your mind and body, contact us to schedule an appointment. We specialize in giving people the tools they need to be successful and protect their health.
Take good care of yourself,
Dr. Ronit Levy
Written and updated by Dr. Ronit Levy.
Dr. Ronit Levy is a clinical psychologist and director of Bucks County Anxiety Center in Newtown, PA. She specializes in treating teens and adults struggling with anxiety due to Anxiety Disorders, OCD, chronic illness, and life events. Dr. Levy trains and supervises other therapists and presents on mental health in the community.