How many times have you been told that the best way to manage your stress is to indulge in some self-care? Most likely quite a few, as it has been a hot topic for several years.
While self-care is not a fix for more serious issues or prolonged stress in your life, making time for yourself can be a great way to de-stress after a long day. And it can also benefit both your mental and physical health.
Self-Care is More Than Just a Fad
Oftentimes, when mental health strategies gain popularity, people can become skeptical of the benefits, and this can be the case with self-care. You might think that writing in a journal or spending time with a coloring book would do nothing for you in terms of relaxation, but there are benefits to these seemingly trivial activities.
When you make time for yourself, you are affirming your importance and that you deserve to slow down. When you are calm, you can approach what is bothering you with a clear mind and hopefully make better and more balanced decisions. When you take the time to regulate yourself, you are more receptive to and calm with those around you. When you are stressed, others can feel it.
There are also physical health benefits to self-care. When you are stressed, a hormone in your body called cortisol is released and stimulates the fight, flight, or freeze response. Cortisol can help keep you alive in times of danger, but when you are constantly under stress and cortisol is consistently running through your body, it can have detrimental effects on your physical health. By making time for yourself, you can help lower your stress–if only for a few minutes–and decrease your cortisol levels.
Add Self-Care to Your Daily Schedule
After a long day or week, the last thing on your mind is making time for yourself. Most of the time, you are thinking about how to solve the many issues you are facing, but sometimes you just need to step back and focus on yourself.
However, in our busy world, it is hard to make time for yourself. One of the best ways to do this is to establish a specific period of time each day dedicated to yourself, even if for just a few minutes. Self-care is a learned skill that you have to practice, which does take time. At first, you may have the urge to give up and not want to continue.
However, when you continue to make the time to practice self-care, you become more familiar with yourself and what you need, which is why it is so important to make it a regular habit. Make a self-care schedule, and hold yourself accountable. When you make self-care a priority it will eventually become second nature.
Spend Time on Something You Enjoy
There are many ways to practice self care. You could escape with a coloring book, join a volunteer group, or take a bubble bath.
You will need to decide what it is that brings you joy and what you want to spend time doing. Find what makes you happy and puts you at ease. Your way of making time for yourself does not have to look like anyone else’s.
Figuring out what makes you feel more in tune with your thoughts and emotions takes time, and regulating your feelings is a learned skill. There are no easy solutions or shortcuts. You need to find what you love, what makes you feel at ease, and do it.
Make Time for Yourself Because You Matter
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed is not how you are supposed to live your life. You owe it to yourself to break free from the stress of your life, even if it is only for a few moments. You deserve to feel happy and calm, and those around you will benefit as well.
Self-care is not just the latest fad reserved for the privileged few. Everyone–including you–deserves to take time out for themselves to focus on something meaningful or to just enjoy being in the moment.