Self Care/Self Love/Self Compassion: Let's Talk About It!
So, we hear these "buzz words" all the time---SELF CARE/SELF LOVE/SELF COMPASSION...whew! that's a mouthful! But what does it all mean and how does one practice it?
Self care/Self Love/Self Compassion, simply put, means taking care of yourself. Showing yourself love and compassion the way you would a friend or family member especially when they approach you in a time of emotional need. Sometimes you're there for them in a variety of ways...sometimes it's just listening to them, provide a hug or just sitting next to them holding their hands (or not) in silence letting them know you are there for them. Ultimately the message you are telling them is "everything will be okay" and "it's okay not to be okay but I'm here for you". It can even be sending them a joke or comment as a healthy distraction via text/email/phone call especially if they are making a request.
Now, when it comes to practicing self care/self love/self compassion to oneself it looks like this:
taking time to do things you enjoy...everyday activities you find relaxing, fun or even energizing...they can be as simple as doing a word search, reading a book or as big as taking a vacation (especially planning it out ahead of time);
taking care of yourself...this means eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, caring for personal hygiene and anything that maintains good health.
making self care/self love/self compassion a priority...let's face it, there will always be "other things" to do, but face the challenge of not letting those "other things" interrupt the time you set aside for self care/self love/self compassion. Self care/self love/self compassion should be given the same importance as other responsibilities. Mark it on your calendar with a reminders if that will help.
making self care/self love/self compassion a habit...just like eating one apple doesn't eliminate health problems, using self care practices once won't have much of effect on reducing stress. Choose activities that you can do often, and that you will stick with.
setting specific goals...try to make specific goals not vague goals. Vague goals look and sound like this, "I will take more time to practice self care". Specific goals look and sound like this, "I will walk for 30 minutes every evening after dinner".
setting boundaries to protect your self care/self love/self compassion..."no" is a complete sentence. You have the right to say "no" and don't need a major obligation to say "no" to others---your self care is reason enough. Try to remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else's.
reminding yourself a few minutes of self care/self love/self compassion is better than no self care/self love/self compassion...Utilize your calendar on your phone to set an alarm to take regular breaks, even if it's just a walk around the block or an uninterrupted snack or journal your thoughts/emotions at that specific moment. Oftentimes, just stepping away will energize you to work more efficiently when you return.
unhealthy activities don't count as self care/self love/self compassion...self medicating with substance use, over-eating and other unhealthy behaviors might hide uncomfortable emotions temporarily, but they cause more problems in the long run.
and...keeping up with your self care/self love/self compassion, even when you're feeling good...Yes! Doing so will keep you in a healthy routine and mental well-being. Plus, keep in mind, your self care/self love/self compassion practices might be part of the reason WHY you're feeling so good!
So, there you have it...you now have the tools, some clarification and information on how practice self care/self love/self compassion. Remember, there are various ways to practice, find what is right for you. I urge you to create a list on what you plan to do as a "go to list" so you don't have to hold all that information in your head. You might forget. It's happened before. Some of the activities include exercising (the number one activity to address depression AND anxiety because it releases endorphins---a natural "feel good" hormone); dancing to your favorite song; creating some art (oh yeah! no experience required just give yourself permission to have some fun); bird-watching (simply observe the birds in your area); nature observing (psst, squirrels always give entertainment chasing one another); taking up a new hobby like photography or putting together a jigsaw puzzle; reading and/or meditation. Just naming a few. Let me know what you do for self care/self love/self compassion! Send me an email.