Taking Self Care More Seriously: 4 Simple Ways

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You can’t log in to social media without a #selfcare post in your face. Self care is simple, really. Take time for yourself, walk away from jobs that don’t serve your well being, treat yourself to things you enjoy. I was raised with the mentality that if you aren’t working yourself into the ground, you aren’t doing it right (what up, Millennials!). I function with a certain level of stress at all times at work and always thought this is just what you do and didn’t pay attention to what it did to my emotional well being. Younger generations are embracing lower stress careers and pushing the self care movement. My initial reaction was to roll my eyes about this, but what if they are on to something?

Is it just social media hype?

Many self care posts are people on vacation and traveling, attending concerts, taking a yoga class, having a glass of wine, the list goes on. It seems like just about anything can be considered self care and wellness, so what is the big deal? 

The World Health Organization defines self-care as: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.” Self care is recognized by several scientific and health communities, so no, it is not just hype. It’s actually incredibly important as we feel levels of anxiety and stress increasing everywhere among everybody. Anxiety is becoming a new endemic among Americans. The world is much more visible and we are exposed to more emotional stressors through global and local news, parenting, our career paths and relationships.

What does “self-care” mean to you?

When I started to see more information online about self care, my first instinct was to think “People need to suck it up”. Turns out, I needed to ask myself, why do I feel such a strong dislike for this “self care” word. Guilt. Turns out, I felt incredibly guilty about taking time for my personal wellness (emotional or physical) or taking time away from work. I work in a fast paced, often stressful environment where my coworkers and I rely on each other to be present. I have children and while I’ve always been vocal about my alone time away from parenting, I still always have a level of guilt about this.

The thing is, the whole purpose behind this self care movement is the fact that you need to take care of yourself so you can be a more present and better version of yourself. Taking part in self care activities helps us deal with daily stressors. A tip from an article by Jennifer Smith from T&F Online is to rest. Rest. That’s it. But for so many, there are feelings of shame from not being super productive all the time, or life at home has so many demands that rest is the first thing to go to the wayside. She recommends simply sitting quietly for any amount of time, 5 minutes up to thirty. Breathing, stretching, reading. Just keep it simple. 

4 Ways to embrace “self-care”:

  1. Take care of yourself physically. Take a yoga or meditation class, go for a walk or bike ride. Try to carve out time daily for movement of some kind. There’s unlimited videos available online, so a gym or studio isn’t necessary.
  2. Find some alone time to read a book or watch a show you enjoy.
  3. Say “no” to more things (this is a very difficult one, but soooooo satisfying).
  4. Journaling, seeking spiritual or religious connection.

Wellistic offers plenty of resources and blogs from contributors with ways to implement self care into your life. Self care Sunday series includes many ideas for at home things to boost your self care routine. Self care doesn’t have to cost money and can be little things that only require small adjustments to your daily routine. Dedicating fifteen minutes before bed to a skin care routine or waking up just a little bit before your family to enjoy a cup of coffee alone are two things that can make you feel more restored. Among other ideas are finding a hobby that is just for you. Whether this is a book club, a hiking or walking group, or a new craft as long as it is dedicated time for you it is self care. 

So, get after it!

It can be hard to realize you need some time for yourself and it is time to unplug for a minute. I try to keep a planner handy with what is happening by the week. I can then identify times where I have the opportunity to engage in self care activities whether it is an evening with no plans after work and I can stop on my way home and take a walk, or a day off from work and I set aside one hour to read a novel. Planning self care moments ahead of time gives me something to look forward to and I’m more likely to actually follow through.

No matter what activity you decide to engage in as self care, as long as it leaves you feeling restored or less stressed and it is time you have dedicated to yourself, it counts. When we start doing these things there are many benefits. Individuals are better equipped to face daily stressors. Many report a decrease in feelings of being overwhelmed and lower levels of anxiety. What you define as self care is very individualized and changes based on what your personal needs are. The common theme is, self care is not just a social media hyped movement. It is scientifically backed as a coping mechanism that ultimately makes us better functioning humans and can improve overall health and well being.

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Katie Hernke is a registered nurse from Wisconsin. Outside of work you can find her gardening, backpacking and camping, trail running, and reading.

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