The idea of self-care has been around for years, but only recently has it become mainstream. So mainstream, in fact, that "self-care" is now a $10 billion industry.
The basic definition of self-care is simple: consciously tending to one’s own well-being. However, the meaning of "self-care" has changed over time. Today’s version is all about taking care of your emotional, mental and physical self - particularly if others rely on you for care.
Given our own focus on wellness, we at Peerfit are very happy to see that folks are starting to take a more preventative approach to their health and well-being. Today, 1 in 5 Americans (18.5%) experience mental illness in a given year, and while self-care is by no means a cure-all for mental illness, it can help stabilize certain hormones that affect mental illness’ impact.
The true power of self-care comes from setting up rituals and sticking to them. For example, Peerfit’s CEO, Ed Buckley, is known for his morning walks, rain or shine, at home or traveling. This routine is a great example of self-care, and it’s so simple that fellow Peerfitters have even adopted the trend. Turns out there is something to this "Peer" thing after all!
So, while bath bombs and mani/pedis are a perfectly acceptable form of self-care, we’re all about “make you feel good” lifestyle changes that don’t necessarily require a trip to Lush.
The notion of self-care is often seen as being selfish. But, in reality, it’s all about making sure you feel your best so you can take care of those around you. You know when you’re on an airplane, and the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others? Yeah, same principle.
It’s vital that your self-care reflects who you are and what you need and doesn’t try to imitate someone else’s routine. If you are an extrovert, that might mean spending time with close friends once a week. If you are an introvert, self-care may be curling up on the couch with hot tea and a good book. Both are great as long as you make the time and feel fulfilled. In short, you do you!
Write down a list of the activities that make you happy. Pick one or two to begin and start making them part of your weekly routine. Before you know it, they might become part of your daily rituals.
If you’re still stuck, here are some ideas.
Manage negative self-talk
One of the most important things you can do is recognize when you are participating in negative self-talk (whether with someone else or internally). Instead of focusing on negative thoughts about what might happen or being negative about how you feel, turn those thoughts into something positive. After all, no one likes a Debbie Downer.
One way to be proactive about restricting your negative thoughts could be to designate time daily, or a few times a week, to saying or writing down positive affirmations. This could help get you into the habit of thinking of yourself this way, slowly eliminating that negative mindset.
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Declutter - for real
You know that one area (or areas) of your house that just never seems to be or stay clean? This can be a desk, a laundry room, a guest room, etc. Take time each week to not just clean up, but to really declutter parts of your home. Giving this extra attention to your space will help you create a more organized, peaceful living environment, which can ultimately lower stress and make you feel less anxious.
Go on a run or walk
But, don’t set a mileage or time goal, and leave your phone at home (blasphemous, we know). Sometimes, setting a specific time or distance for ourselves makes us feel defeated when it either takes longer than we thought or that distance just feels way too hard that day. If you are in need of some self-care, give yourself the endorphin boost, but without the potential for negativity later.
Yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation are two of the best ways to treat yourself to self-care. Both of these activities are called a practice, because the more you practice, the better results you achieve. If you are starting a self-care practice or routine, adding yoga and/or meditation can have a huge impact physically, emotionally and mentally. Here are some tips to get you going.
Just do it!
Get moving. Exercise, in general, can and should be considered self-care. It should never be viewed as punishment or a chore, but something you get to do. Exercise is good for you physically, but has so many other positive side effects as well, especially when done regularly.
Remember, these are just some ideas to get you started. Something extremely important to keep in mind is to not feel guilty about your self-care. If winding down in front of your favorite Friends episode is what is going to make you feel relaxed and re-charged, embrace it!
Feeling stuck or like you just aren’t committing to a routine? Try a monthly self-care challenge with a friend, or your coworkers. This will not only help create a habit, but it will also provide some accountability so you actually stick to it.
No matter what, self-care is not selfish. Take the time to figure out what works for you and make living your best life a habit.