Welcome to the first entry for Self Care Saturday.
Today I am excited to begin a regularly series that is very important to me. As a clinical social worker seeing clients and as an educator of future social work students, I encourage others to practice self care on a regular basis. Surprisingly, the art of self care does not come naturally to many people. In honesty, self care is something that I often have to make a conscious effort to do.
By nature, I am a Type A perfectionist who in the past felt I should be able to do everything. Believing that lead me to a world where I was physically exhausted, had no time for any fun things, diagnosed with hypothyroidism and on the verge of burn out in my career.
Over the past seven years, I have learned the importance of self care.
Did you know that over the different disciplines of helping professions there are over 194 different definitions of self care? With that knowledge, it isn’t surprising that the general public struggles with the definition of self care. Many feel self care is for someone who is fragile or weak. However, true self care is about discovering and practicing habits which help to maintain a healthy and vibrant life.
Not having time for self care is the most used excuse. In fact, our own personal needs are typically the ones that are forgotten because we are more concerned with everything else. Take a few minutes and think about times when you forced yourself to do something when you physically didn’t feel well? How many times a week do you eat fast food or something unhealthy because it is easy to eat? Do you skip out on your sleep because you are staying up late doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen after everyone else has gone to bed?
Each day our interactions in life and with others naturally deplete us. It is up to each of us to develop the ability to refill and refuel ourselves in healthy ways. When we practice these activities on a regular basis we are able to get up each morning with the energy we need.
A good way to check yourself in regards to self care is to see how balanced you are feeling in your life. If you are feeling overwhelmed, fatigued and stressed, you are out of balanced.
Self care can be viewed as three different components. Check to see how you are doing in each area.
Physical Self Care
- Do you do something active each day? Are you moving your body with stretches or yoga?
- What foods do you eat? Do you plan your meals or find yourself grabbing something from a drive through? How much caffeine do you drink each day? Do you drink water?
- We are a society that is continuously sleep deprived. The reasons vary due to late night electronic use to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Are you sleeping enough hours and receiving quality sleep?
- It is shocking at the number of times I have encountered individuals who put off going to the doctor. Ignoring pain and symptoms can often create larger problems. It can be easy to attempt to medicate with over the counter medication but if an issue lingers it is something that needs to be assessed by a medical professional. Most insurances now pay for yearly physicals and dental cleanings. Take advantage of what is provided.
Emotional Self Care
- Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends? What is the self talk you say to yourself each day? I encourage people to eliminate the word should from their vocabulary. The constant use of the word is self criticism.
- Do you take time for activities that you truly enjoy? Do you have a hobby that you participate in regularly?
- How do you express your feelings? Do you share with a friend or write in a journal?
- Do the people you surround yourself provide positive energy or drain you? Are you able to set limits with friends and family?
Spiritual Self Care
- Do you participate in something that nourishes your soul? Participating in a practice that includes meditation,, prayer or attending services helps to nourish your soul. Practicing these activities helps you to identify your values and priorities and builds up your spirit.
Take some time this weekend to think about the number of activities (or lack of) in your life. Each week I hope to provide suggestions and ideas that will help self care to become a regular part of your life.
What does your self care routine currently look like?