Self-care articles have bombarded our newsfeeds and numerous publications. We’ve seen everything from Ted Talks on self-care, to a variety of blog think pieces on the subject and even Forbes writing about it. In a time where self-care has become a trendy and widely discussed topic, it’s hard to deceiver what is actual legitimate advice and what isn’t. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below we outline three facts about self-care to help provide you with accurate information all in one place.
1.) What Self-Care Really Is.
As defined by the University of Buffalo,“Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being.” This definition may seem very broad--and that’s okay! The topic of self-care is an expansive umbrella that is unique for each individual based on factors like employment, individual stress levels or stress management, overall mental health, and past experiences or trauma.
2.) Self-Care is Different for Everyone.
For a lot of people the first image that you think of when considering self-care is a warm bath with an extravagant Lush bath bomb or a “treat yourself” montage of a person engaging in a variety of culinary and/or shopping pleasures. While this may be one way to practice self-care (which is totally okay!), self-care doesn’t always look like this for everyone. As Thought Catalog blogger Brianna Weist states,“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.” How you choose to practice self-care is determined by your distinct needs, wants, and overall what works best for you. This means that self-care can sometimes be slowing down to take a bath or--less glamorously--taking the time to organize your Google calendar.
3.) Why and When You Should Practice Self-Care.
While everyone has different ways to practice self-care, the overall goals and reasons to practice self-care are the same. As stated by GoodTherapy.org, “the goals of self-care are to find a state of good mental and physical health, reduce stress, meet emotional needs, maintain one's relationships, both romantic and platonic, and find a balance between one's personal and academic or professional.” Oftentimes people are concerned with the assumption that practicing self-care is a selfish act--one that is plagued by a narcissistic need to focus on one’s self. This assumption is false and misguided---taking caring of one’s mental, emotional, and physical needs are a necessity for all and should not be considered selfish in any way. In order to provide for others, one needs to be able to provide for themself.
How often a person practices self-care is determined by each individual’s specific needs. If you work in a field where you may experience vicarious trauma, you may need to make self-care a more permanent, even daily, part of your routine. Whether you make self-care part of a daily or weekly routine or you just practice self-care on an as needed basis, integrating the practice of self-care is crucial for your overall health and well-being.
Ultimately, practicing self-care should be about what works best for you. Without self-regulation of our physical, mental and emotional needs, we are all susceptible to overwork, burnout, and unhealthy living. However much you practice, self-care is essential for everyone and necessary to incorporate to achieve balance in our lives.
Not sure where to get started? Learn more about MCS Chicago’s self-care and self-preservation services here.
Contributing Writer: Brittany A. Hamilton
Photo Credit: Riccardo Bresciani