Self Care - Learn to Love Yourself
Self care = self love. Is this you? Some people give and give and soon find themselves empty, tired and often even sad or depressed. Why is this so hard for some of us, you ask? Well, partly, taking care of yourself, or not taking care of yourself, is learned. And to some degree or another you are probably telling yourself things like, 'it's selfish to take care of myself.' Yet, "take care of yourself" is exactly what we tend to advice others to do. Fact is, if we don't take care of ourselves, we will soon be depleted of our own physical and mental health and unable to help anyone. So, looking at it this way, taking care of yourself, is taking care of others, as well. By taking care of you, you ensure that you will continue to be around; that you will be mentally and physically able to "be there" for yourself, and for others. Start with the basics. Here are some tips to get you started on learning how to take care of- and love yourself.
1. I would argue that taking the time to go to your regular check-ups and doctor's appointments is the first and most important step towards self-care. By attending your scheduled check-ups you can identify medical issues early on, potentially saving your health or even your life. What could be more self-loving? Also, physical health and mental health go hand in hand; one affects the other and vice versa. Follow your doctor's recommendations for staying- or getting healthy, such as taking medications as prescribed.
2. Allowing yourself to get the sleep you need is self-care. Lack of sleep affects your health and your physical- and mental functioning. Figure out how much sleep is optimal for you. Most people need between 7 and 8 hours, some as much as 9 or 10 hours. Quality of sleep is important, as well. You know if your sleep quality is good, if you wake up feeling refreshed and not tired. If your sleep quality is poor, you are likely having trouble staying asleep or falling asleep, or your sleep is restless. Look for my post on sleep hygiene; which talks about things you can do to ensure you are getting a good night's sleep. Also, if your sleep is lacking, your doc may have some recommendations for you to help improve this.
3. Keeping your body fit is a form of self-care. Take the time for yourself to follow an exercise routine. I can't emphasize enough the importance and the powerful effects of exercise on a person's mental- and physical wellness. Not only will you get stronger and stay more agile and fit, but also the endorphins that are being released in your body while exercising will help you to develop and keep up a more positive mood-state. It's a good idea to check in with your doc and follow recommendations before starting a new exercising program. For most people, about 30 minutes of some type of aerobic activity most days of the week is recommended. Things like stretching and yoga will also add to your overall well-being.
4. Eating healthy = self-care. Think of food as fuel for your body, which it very much is. You can notice a difference if you pay attention to how you feel and function after you eat certain foods. People who eat healthier food choices tend to feel better physically and mentally, because their bodies get the nutrients it needs. Not saying you can't have some treats or your favorite foods. Everything in moderation. Depriving yourself is probably not going to work for long. Generally speaking though, you want to aim for balanced meals with lots of fresh vegetables and some fruits. Again, speaking with your doctor or a nutritionist about what they may recommend for you is a good idea. Different people have different types of nutritional needs.
5. Talk to a counselor if you can't find a way to get off the self-sabotaging train of thoughts that keep you from taking care of yourself. Often times people get stuck in negative thoughts that are not helpful. It is important to identify underlying beliefs to these negative thoughts. In counseling we can work towards debunking these beliefs, and creating new, more positive thoughts, so you can learn to love- and take care of yourself.
Take care of yourself. We need you to be OK :)
You're not alone. ~ Let's Talk! ~ Petra
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
1-800-273-8255 Or go to your nearest emergency room.
I am a Nationally Certified- and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of Idaho. With over eight years of experience, I specialize in counseling and consulting with adults of all ages, facing anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, grief & loss, life stage issues, stress and more.