Self Care Ideas: Doing the Hard Stuff
I recently had the privilege of speaking with a group of young ladies in high school about the importance of self-care.
I was struck by the level of insight and maturity these young ladies have and was very excited to speak with them about a topic that means so much to me. Through the preparation of my crash course on self-care for this group, I realized the disservice we are subjecting our youth to by not making self-care a more prominent topic. We teach our children how to care for their bodies by eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise, how to care for their hygiene by showering regularly and brushing their teeth, but little to no effort is placed on teaching our kids how to practice self-care for mental health. I realized this is probably also the reason so few adults have been able to master self-care.
Throughout our lives, starting at an early age, we, in western society, are taught that hard work and dedication reap rewards. We are a country built on bootstrapping our way to the American dream. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in working hard to accomplish goals, but I also believe in the importance of balance. I feel the equation we have been given on how to achieve success is one-sided. We’re missing a major factor in the process. We will never be able to actually achieve success if we don’t practice appropriate self-care. Think that’s a bold statement? Maybe, maybe not.
When we fail to practice self-care, we greatly increase our chances of burnout. And once burnout strikes, your productivity effectively shrinks to zero.
Burnout meaning: a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
Humans are not machines. We need downtime to take care of ourselves. We need time to mentally decompress each day. There’s only so long you can keep up a pace of go, go go before you have nothing left to give. I know, first hand, that it can be hard to make time for self-care. But that, in and of itself, is part of self-care. Self-care isn’t just about massages and bubble baths (although bubble baths are my favorite!), but about making the tough choices that will improve your life over all.
For instance, ending a toxic relationship may be difficult, but is an important part of self-care. We often only hear about the fun activities we can do to practice self-care, like going for a walk, or reading a good book, or taking a long vacation. But here’s the thing. Self-care isn’t just about the things you can do to get away from your life; it’s about the things we do to create a life that we don’t feel the need to get away from. So in this post, I’m going to lay out 4 of the more difficult, but extremely important tasks for self-care.
Learning to say no-- This can be difficult, especially if you’re a “yes” person. But at some point, we all have to learn that we can’t always be everything to everyone. When we operate with a people pleaser mentality, we often forget about ourselves. So, everyone is happy, except for us. It’s ok to say no and not provide a reason. Sometimes the answer is simply no because you don’t want to. Don’t feel pressured to justify your response.
Learning to set boundaries-- Here’s another one that you may struggle with if you’re a yes person. Learning to set, and keep, boundaries is extremely important to good mental health and a basic principle of self-care. The thing to remember about boundaries, is that it’s our way of teaching others how we want to be treated. It’s a way for us to communicate our needs to others. And of course, a big part of self-care is learning how to get our needs met.
Learning when to walk away-- Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we are no longer being fulfilled. It may be at work, it may be a friendship, or maybe an intimate relationship. Every interaction we have with others is an exchange of energy. If you find yourself in a place where it feels like you’re pouring more energy into a situation than you’re receiving in return, it’s only a matter of time before you start to feel closed off and resentful. It becomes very difficult to maintain positive mental health once you begin to feel this way. If you’ve given it everything you have to try to correct the imbalance, it may be time to walk away.
Learning to put YOU first-- Self-care has a bad rap as being selfish. This is not true. Practicing self-care makes you fully available to those you care about and to all the responsibilities you have on your agenda. And sometimes, self-care means making the conscious decision to prioritize yourself first. If you find yourself feeling guilty, remember, self-care is the first step in managing your stress levels and is an awesome way to avoid burnout. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
Remember, self-care isn’t all about you, it’s about being the best version of yourself for those you love as well. We all owe it to ourselves to start learning the steps of self-care that we missed out on in our youth. And we owe it to the next generation to teach them self-care now for a brighter future.
I really hope that this information is helpful to you. If you feel like it is, please let me know by dropping a comment below! And be sure to subscribe to future blog posts because I don’t want you to miss any of this information that’s designed to help you live your best life!
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