7 Basic Steps For Practicing Self Care

Truly taking care of yourself doesn’t come naturally to some people. Many of us seem hardwired to put others first, and while that is certainly a noble endeavour, it actually does more harm than good. People who push themselves too hard wind up exhausted and shorter tempered, and they often make more mistakes. That in turn negatively affects everyone around them.

That is why self-care is so important. By making sure your needs -- all of them, not just the obvious or immediate ones -- are met, you are positioning yourself to become a better person for those around you. It’s not selfish.

Of course, that is easier said than done. If you are struggling with self-care, here are seven basics to start with.

  1. Get enough sleep. Too often, people pride themselves in pushing themselves beyond what is healthy and normal, as if that is an accomplishment worthy of praise. It isn’t. Boasting that you only got two hours of sleep last night because you were busy doing this project or that extracurricular activity will only lead to burnout. Furthermore, not getting enough sleep can have devastating effects on both your physical body and mental health. So find the time to sleep.

  2. Eat and drink right. Just like with sleep, your nutrition has a tremendous impact on your physical body and mental health. Strive to make healthier food and drink choices -- more fruits and veggies, less processed foods is a great baseline. Many people find themselves amazed at the difference eating and drinking right makes.

  3. Have hobbies. Self-care is all about making sure you feel whole. That requires making yourself and your desires a priority. If you have a hobby that has fallen by the wayside because you are “too busy,” then you need to re-prioritize. If you don’t have a hobby, then you need to prioritize giving yourself time to explore potential hobbies and activities. Either way, you deserve to have some “me time” to embrace something you enjoy.

  4. Relax. Life is stressful, and everyone needs the ability to unwind. Remember, there are plenty of ways to relax. Some people have hobbies that relax them. Others pick up on the ambiance of the space surrounding them. Consider removing clutter in your home or even painting a room in soft, comforting colors to create a more serene environment for you to unwind in.

  5. Ask others for help. Many people who struggle with self care do so because they overextend themselves. They are afraid to ask for help when they need it. Break that bad habit. If you need someone to watch the children while you practice self care by relaxing poolside alone, then ask for babysitting help from a friend or family. Forbes explains that you should switch your mindset to view asking for help as a strength, not a weakness.

  6. Say “No.” Just as asking for help for yourself can be difficult, saying “no” to people when they ask for you for help can also be difficult. However, sometimes it is the right choice. If you are overextended, don’t continue to overextend yourself.  The majority of people will understand. Those who don’t aren’t worth keeping around.

  7. Don’t apologize. This may be the most difficult of all these basic self-care tips. You will want to tell people you are sorry -- sorry for asking for their help, sorry for saying no to them, sorry for not being available because you were off relaxing, etc. However, you have nothing to feel sorry about, and you need to remember that. You practicing self-care helps everyone around you.

Self-care is a daily practice. It can be learned and reinforced through small, everyday decisions. Start with these seven basics and you’ll have a foundation which you an grow on.

Guest article written by Brad Krause , founder of selfcaring.info blog.

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To find out more about how you are doing why not take the short 'good mental health' survey published by the Mental Health Foundation; they also offer some practical tips and access to a good mental health package one you have completed the survey!

The power of self acceptance

Today I spent a lot of time reflecting of self acceptance and the potential we can all unleash if we are able to simply accept ourselves. To me self acceptance is an ongoing process of exploring our unique strengths and weaknesses, and reserving judgement on ourselves. It is about saying ‘I know I am flawed but I posses a unique value nonetheless’, its about self forgiveness and a commitment, where necessary, to self repair. I don’t think self acceptance is easy, in fact for many of us it means opening up boxes we keep hidden away in the darkest corners of our minds and saying ‘I see that about me, I feel the pain, and suffering it has caused me, and I love myself all the same’.

Self acceptance requires the courage to face our most painful demons, the discipline to keep on doing it again and again, and the desire above all else to change. The value of self acceptance is in the attainment of a healthier and more satisfied self, and this in turn flows outwards others, creating deeper and more connected relationships.
I recent watched a talk by Michelle Charfen who explored her journey to self acceptance through being a parent. Her approach is based on a CBT journalling technique and her insights are truly inspiring. I highly recommend a watch!