In today’s fast-paced society, many of us put the requests of others above our own needs. Maybe you can relate. If you’ve ever stayed late at work even though you had planned to go to a yoga practice, you’re already well aware of how easy it is to sacrifice self-care.
However, caring for yourself is one of the most valuable things you can do, and it extends to how you treat others. You may have heard the expression, “You can’t draw from an empty well.” Put another way, it means you can’t care for others — whether they are your kids, your parents or friends — if you don’t look after yourself, too.
Although making time for self-care will probably require reprioritizing your life, it’s worth it, and it could have long-lasting effects on your overall well-being. Here are some ways to do it.
- Change Your Mindset About Self-Care
You might think taking the time out to focus on self-care is selfish or unnecessary. On the contrary, it carries over into all aspects of your state of being — physical, mental and emotional.
Instead of falling into the trap that taking care of yourself is a waste of time, form new perspectives and understand that prioritizing self-care could help you cope with stress, have a clearer head and engage more healthily with others.
- Tune Into Your Needs
It’s not always necessary to put aside a block of time you designate for self-care, although that approach often works well if you’re having trouble justifying treating yourself. Learn to pick up on how your body feels when it’s trying to tell you certain things and respond immediately to give it what it needs as much as possible.
For example, if you frequently suffer from migraine headaches, you might have learned that extra stress makes them more severe, and staying hydrated tends to stave them off. In that scenario, caring for yourself means recognizing the things that make your migraines less likely to occur and doing what you can to have plenty of water on hand and minimize stress.
- Develop Emotional Awareness
Far too often, people get encouraged to block out or ignore their feelings instead of realizing that they’re valuable. Getting in touch with your emotions is simple and beneficial. You can do it in the privacy of your bedroom or while you’re on a crowded subway train commuting to work. The key is to separate and name the various emotions you’re feeling at a given time, then digging deeper to understand why they’re occurring.
Soon, you’ll become acquainted with your emotions and understand they’re worthy parts of you, not elements that need to stay locked away. By regularly practicing emotional awareness, you could rid your body of uncomfortable tension you might not even have realized you were storing due to stressful feelings. Being knowledgeable about your emotions might also help you respond properly when speaking to others, instead of lashing out or becoming otherwise upset.
- Set Boundaries With Others When Needed
Although you might have some fabulous friendships that make you feel uplifted, you’re probably like most people and know at least a few individuals who are draining, have different priorities or are unnecessarily competitive. When you’re around those kinds of friends, it’s especially necessary to set clear boundaries to avoid taking on too much emotional baggage.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a number of perpetually nurturing friends, make it your usual practice to create limits and avoid spending so much time with those people that you feel fatigued. You can say something like, “I’m feeling really tired after that long meeting at work, so I think I’d better stay home tonight instead of going for coffee with you, but thanks for inviting me!”
Putting self-care above your other obligations takes time, and it’s not something you can expect to do successfully overnight. However, with help from the actionable tips above, plus internal motivation, you’ll be off to a great start.