For many, a brand new year means reflections and resolutions. Amid all this “new year, new me” chatter, we want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of taking care of ourselves exactly as we are today.
We have all heard about self-care; it’s become a major part of today’s culture. Increasingly, we see people posting and talking about self-care on social media, but do we fully understand what self-care is?
In this blog, we’ll debunk some common myths about self-care and provide some suggestions on how we can intentionally care for our mental, emotional, and physical health in the year ahead.
Self-care does not have to be a full day at the spa or even hours of daily activity. Self-care can be found in a few minutes of taking a deep breath outside (or even in your office) or taking a moment to recognize moments of success and simple joys in life. It could be a moment spent talking to a friend or partner, noticing the things that fill your cup. It could be noticing and capturing the simple moments to help yourself recognize that self-care might be happening more often than you think.
Self-care is not a practice bound to one specific group. Regardless of your gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, or ability, you deserve to practice self-care. We all have the right to nurture ourselves and make sure we are living a balanced, healthy life. We must recognize that self-care is going to look different for each one of us. What works for me may not work for you. We need to fight against the urge to compare our self-care habits to those around us. Self-care is unique to each of us and needs to be treated as such.
Be proud of what fills your cup and stick to it. Once at a conference, I was listening to Dr. Russ Harris talk. He stood in a tree yoga pose on the stage and continued to fall over. He remarked, “I hated yoga because I felt like I had to do it their way, but then I realized that ‘falling tree’ pose was something that grounded me and improved my practice.” I have thought about this many times over the years. What is your “falling tree” pose that fills you and nurtures your soul?
I hear this frequently in my work. It saddens me that social media has pushed this idea. Self-care for me is free, and it can be for you as well! I find that breathing deeply on a walk outside is wonderful. Sitting with pets and listening to their purr or watching the wag of a tail is as well. I also enjoy slowly sipping on my cup of coffee or tea and enjoying the flavors of the beverage, or soaking in my bathtub at night and enjoying music (or even just the silence of the moment). So many things can be cost-free and very effective to help us relax and be present in the moment.
This is also something important to address. It’s important because there are things that we may do that bring us a sense of comfort and calm that are not healthy for us in the end. Self-care should support health and wellness and should not be addictive, compulsive, or harmful to your mind, body, or bank account. We need to be mindful of our intentions. We all need a break from the business sometimes, but we also need to be careful not to become dependent on the tools we use to practice self-care.
Taking time for yourself or saying “no” to tasks or others is not selfish. Taking this time for you—doing what will fill your cup and may allow you to be present with yourself—will make you a better caretaker, friend, partner, or parent. We must take care of ourselves if we want to be the best we can be for others. It is never selfish but rather selfless to recharge.
Daily self-care is essential. By finding the truth to these myths, your overall well-being will improve, and those bad days may not be as heavy on us. With proper acts of self-care, you may feel better equipped to handle stressful moments or recognize when it’s time to take a break and put yourself first.
Krista is the National Director of Brain-Based Therapies and the Director of Clinical Outreach Education. Clinically she draws from a variety of methods, including TBT-S, EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), FBT, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and often incorporates the use of the creative process in conjunction with the more traditional therapeutic process. She earned her Masters of Science from Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Psychology, and her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in family and pediatrics from Azusa Pacific University. She trained at Harbor UCLA Medical Center and Loma Linda Children’s Hospital in neuropsych. Away from work, Krista loves being a mom to her three boys, playing outside, going on adventures with her family, skiing, hiking, biking, and camping.
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