It may come as a surprise to you that often times weeks fly by without you taking a moment to consider yourself a priority before that deadline, or that milestone, or that goal, or that report submission, or that friend who asked you for a favor… and the list goes on.
If you don’t believe us, take a moment to sit comfortably, relax your shoulders, and close your eyes while practicing deep breathing and try to reflect on the last moment where you put yourself above any other person or thing. There – we tricked you into having an actual minute to relax, and it was probably the first time in months, admit it.
Self-care is a topic that boasts vast literature and research in its practices, the steps to self-care, and the benefits of self-care. Despite that, we are unable to implement this basic principle of giving importance to ourselves as well.
Lack of self-care can quickly lead to burnout, which is harder to recover from because you feel like your well of motivation has run dry.
If your high tolerance for discomfort and high expectations of self is what leads you to skip meals, stay up at late hours, go weeks without socializing – your high-powered self can quickly lead to mental fog. If you’re already on this path and wish to make lifestyle changes, this is for you.
Before we delve into the 7 steps themselves, it is equally important to understand why you should practice self-care.
The Benefits of Self-Care
Self-care isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a way to protect your heart, mind, and soul. Putting the welfare of others above your own may come naturally to you, but if that’s happening too often, it will only leave you feeling empty.
And if you can’t take care of your own energy, how will you provide sunshine in the life of others?
Self-care helps you cope up better with stress, it makes you resilient and teaches you to prioritize the things that matter in life. It establishes your self-worth and leads to increased self-esteem.
And best of all, it helps you explore yourself and break through the barriers of your own limits by facing and conquering your vulnerabilities.
When you pay attention to yourself instead of ignoring your needs, you can understand yourself better and reach your maximum potential.
Why is Self-Care a Challenge?
We often fail at self-care despite knowing the benefits of self-care. Our life has significantly become more demanding and busier. Still, it is essential to remind ourselves that the demand never ends – that’s why we have to forcefully designate our me-time. After all, it is as important, if not more, than a team meeting.
It is also important to not overwhelm yourself with self-care that it becomes a burden itself. You don’t need to carry out any grand gesture for yourself, nor do you need to indulge in every method possible to pamper yourself in the name of self-care.
Feel the delight in small pleasures of life and start with baby-steps by slowly incorporating the following steps in your routine instead of trying to create a total lifestyle change.
The 7 Steps on the Journey of Self-Care
The 7 steps to self-care are divided between the self-care for the body and for the mind & soul. This is because you need to pay attention to yourself holistically by taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
The journey to self-care starts with loving yourself, and the following are the ways to get there.
Self-Care for the Body
1- Actively Monitor Your Sleep
Is your body getting the rest it deserves? If you are experiencing disturbed sleep or a loss of sleep, or you are someone who stays awake late trying to get that report completed, you need to get yourself checked. Practice healthy sleeping habits to inculcate a good sleeping routine, and if the problem persists, then get yourself checked by a professional.
2- Healthy Gut = Healthy Habits
Taking care of your food intake by providing yourself nourishment with a healthy, balanced diet is a surefire way to make yourself feel healthier and happier.
Try to introduce small changes in your diet – such as increment in water intake, narrowing your food choices, or having an extra portion of protein.
The change in diet will reflect in your system, and you could experiment with the different kinds of foods to which your body responds positively.
3- Get Moving!
There is no need to panic – we are not asking you to exercise, although that would be great! But sticking to our instruction of taking baby-steps, all we are asking you to do is put on some music and get jamming! Instead of being glued to your laptop, stretch your muscles by moving to beats or running around! The point is to get yourself moving.
Self-Care for the Mind and Soul
4- Schedule A “Me-Time.”
We’re not kidding – open that Google Calendar app and set a weekly “Me-Time” for yourself. In this meeting, you should introspect and reflect alone and figure out the best way to take further care of yourself and protect your mental well-being. This will not only help you stay grounded but will help you remain self-aware and in control of your reactions.
This self-care time can be in the form of mindfulness, yoga, a hot bath, a walk, or even a scheduled time at the foot of your staircase – the goal is to get you to talk to yourself!
5- Acquaint Yourself with Nature
While the pandemic limits your options of a walk outside, there are other ways you can surround yourself with nature. This could be in the form of planting a seed and caring for a plant or by opening your windows to let the sunshine and breeze whisk away the negativity. Or even by a few moments on the balcony or roof-top. Nature is what grounds you, reduces stress, and helps you be more mindful.
6- Create a Habit!
The best way to feel good about yourself is to do something you love! Try something you have always wanted to but felt shy to give it a go – this is your chance! You don’t have to be great at it, but you should have fun doing it.
It could be writing poetry, themed dressed on specific days, creating a piece of artwork every day. Creating a habit will give you something to look forward to doing in your routine.
7- Say “No” and Stick to It!
For once, let yourself listen to your heart and put your welfare above caring for others. Learn to say no without giving an explanation as it is not something you owe to anyone. Your time is yours, and you have no obligation to explain why you would prefer to spend it with yourself rather than with others.
Some Other Ways to Self-Care
Apart from these 7 steps to self-care, you can care for yourself by doing any of these things:
- Go offline for an hour.
- Practice deep breathing
- Purposely inhale a sweet perfume smell
- Watch comedy shows!
- Allow yourself to splurge
- Go on a self-date
- Reach out for help
Remember – self-care is not a one-time thing. You have to make a deliberate effort to care for yourself, and it will go a long way to help you and feel the benefits of self-care.
It helps to imagine yourself as your best friend. Would you treat your best friend the way you treat yourself? If your answer is no, then we all know something needs to change. Happy Caring!