How to Take Care of Me? 6 Powerful Ways
I am tired. I’m giving out constantly, and I honestly feel depleted and drained. I’m back into my crazy and busy routine:
—Running kids back and forth to school
—Rushing to soccer practices and friends’ houses
—Trying to balance our heavy workloads and our family life
My very full “work” day comes to an end when my kids come barreling through the door after school. At that moment, my other full-time job begins—that of being a mother. I scramble to help kids:
—unpack their lunch boxes,
—get an after-school snack (I didn’t have time to bake chocolate chip cookies!),
—do their homework.
Oops! I almost forgot dinner preparation. If I forget to throw something in the crockpot that morning, then the demands of feeding a family start screaming at me—in between all the soccer runs! Dinner prep, eating, clean up—just in time to get the little ones bathed and ready for bed.
I’m exhausted. I just want to collapse into bed, but I still have a million other things to cross off my “to do” list before I feel like I can call it a day.
Sometimes, I’m just tired of caring for the needs of everyone around me. What about me? I have needs too.
We take care of our spouses, our children, our dogs, our parents, our friends… that seems to come naturally. It’s not easy, and can be exhausting, but it feels natural. Many of us who live overseas are often in a work role of caring for others as well: our neighbors, our coworkers, perfect strangers, displaced persons, the marginalized, the needy, people from all walks of life in our community. That’s not easy either, but it feels natural. It’s our work. That’s what we are trained to do and, sometimes, that’s what we are paid to do.
What doesn’t come easily and doesn’t come naturally is caring for ourselves.
There are a lot of hot topics floating out there in today’s world. One of them is “self-care.”
What Exactly is ‘Self-Care’?
“Self-care is a broad term that encompasses just about anything you do to be good to yourself. In a nutshell, it’s about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others. It’s partly about knowing when your resources are running low, and stepping back to replenish them rather than letting them all drain away.”
For some reason, we feel guilty about caring for ourselves—at least I do. I confess.
It’s hard for me to stop in the middle of my busy day (when there’s so much to do!) and take time away to do something for me—to care for myself, to care for my own personal needs.
It feels selfish.
But what if caring for myself not only helped me? What if caring for myself actually helped me to better care for others? As I replenish myself, fill my drained and empty cup, perhaps I could have more to give out to others. Perhaps I would be in a healthier place to better meet the needs of others.
What are the benefits of self-care?
The most obvious benefits include increased energy levels and more positive moods. However, research has found a few more perks to taking care of ourselves.
1. Better Productivity
2. Improved Resistance to Disease
3. Better Physical Health
4. Enhanced Self-Esteem
5. Increased Self-Knowledge
6. More to Give Out to Others
That list of benefits is enough incentive to get me motivated to take care of myself. What about you?
Let’s get started!
What comes to mind when you hear the word “self-care”?
I think of adequate sleep, regular exercise, healthy eating, hobbies, mindfulness, etc.
There are all types of self-care. Here are a few categories:
1. Sensory Self-Care aims to focus your mind. When was the last time you really noticed your various senses: sight, hearing, taste, smelling, and feeling?
Lie down with your eyes closed and listen to music
Take a walk on the beach and listen to the seagulls and the crashing waves, feel the gentle breeze brush against your face, smell the fresh ocean air
Dip your feet in the cool, refreshing water of the nearby sea
Sit on a bench at the park in the warm afternoon sun
Walk barefoot through the cool sand
Curl up on the couch under a warm blanket or pet your soft, furry friend
Sip your favorite hot tea and eat a delicious square of gourmet dark chocolate
2. Emotional Self-Care: Do you have healthy ways to process your emotions and activities to keep you recharged?
Spend time with a good friend or family member to whom you can open up honestly
Write daily in a journal as a way to express yourself
Allow yourself to cry and grieve when needed
Watch a funny show or movie by yourself or with a friend and laugh your head off (Laughter is great medicine!)
Sing a song (yes, out loud!) that expresses and releases emotion
3. Spiritual Self-Care: Are you engaging in activities that stimulate you spiritually and help you process your life and experience?
Practice meditation, mindfulness, prayer
Make a list of 10 things for which you are grateful
Attend a religious service
Take a walk in nature and reflect on the beauty that you see around you
Create something—art, music, writing . . .
Take a trip and take pictures of things that inspire you
4. Physical Self-Care: Are you taking charge of your health in the areas of sleep, exercise, and eating?
Take a walk in the neighborhood and grab a dog or a friend to take along
Cycle along the boardwalk
Go for a swim in the cool, refreshing water of a swimming pool or nearby ocean
Dance wildly to your favorite song
Join a local gym and get a good workout
Take a much-needed afternoon nap
Go to bed early and get at least 8 hours of sleep
Adjust your eating habits—cut out sodas, drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables
Take a bath
Get a massage
5. Social Self-Care: Are you getting enough face-to-face time with your friends and nurturing relationships with family?
Join a group or club to meet new people
Make a coffee or lunch date with your spouse or friend
Invite some friends over to your home for tea or dinner
Write an email or send a letter (Now, that’s a novel idea!) to a friend or family member far away
Reach out to someone you haven’t connected with in a long time
6. Mental Self-Care: Are you taking the time to do activities that mentally stimulate you? Are you proactively staying mentally healthy?
Read a book that stimulates you
Learn a new skill that you have always wanted to try
Watch a movie that inspires you
Join a club and start a new hobby
Do a challenging puzzle with a friend
For other suggestions that you perhaps haven’t thought of, click here for a list of 40 other self-care ideas.
Let’s Get Started!
We are all facing a lot of demands and challenges in our work and in our families.
It’s important to have others in our lives who can care for us—a spouse, good friends, coworkers, or leaders—but we can’t expect others to meet all of our needs. If we do, we are setting ourselves up for some serious disappointment.
Perhaps we should consider how we can care for ourselves as well.
To get started, let’s put together a self-care plan by choosing one idea from each category above to begin practicing this month. Get out some paper, write them down, and find a friend to join you and to keep you accountable.
Let’s take good care of ourselves, so we can take better care of others!