When we become stressed or busy, we are often in need of a good dose of self-care; but, these are often the times when we neglect this idea the most. There are many misconceptions that come with the idea of self-care, including the idea that we are being selfish when we attend to our own needs. Self-care is simply taking an intentional role in protecting our own health and happiness.
Stress has always been a part of life, but we have become more and more stressed out as a society with continually increasing demands. Work, money issues, relationships, and health complications are among the top causes of stress, and the American Institute of Stress estimates approximately 75% of Americans report physical or psychological symptoms due to stress. It’s estimated that stress costs employers in America about $300 billion a year due to health care expenses and missed work.
So how do we make self-care a priority in order to better manage our stress levels and improve our overall health and happiness? We need to make a point to integrate self-care into our routine. Here are a few tips for how to practice self-care:
1. Know your limits. Remember that it is okay to set boundaries at work and in our relationships. Sometimes we need to say “no” to some of those demands.
2. Make time to care for our physical bodies. Never skip lunch and eat regularly throughout the day. Get some exercise that you enjoy and make time for adequate sleep.
3. Identify what it is you enjoy and integrate these activities into each day. This does not have to be something time consuming or elaborate. Call a friend. Listen to a motivating podcast. Go for a walk at lunch. Journal.
4. Find time to decompress during each work day, as well as after. Take mini-breaks throughout the day to practice deep breathing or drink a glass of water. It can also be helpful to find a way to transition out of work, maybe driving in silence or walking.
5. Take time to feed your spiritual self. This might include meditating, praying, spending time in nature, attending a religious ceremony, practicing gratitude, etc.
Just remember that self-care is not being selfish. It is a necessary part of our lives that we need to achieve balance and manage stress. It is helpful to start with the basics and gradually add to your self-care routine. Be conscious of why you include an activity to your self-care routine, ensuring that relaxation and balance is the goal rather than putting additional demands on our busy lives.
Elliott Counseling Group has over 30 therapists. We’re located in Champaign, Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, and in Tuscola. We offer daytime, evening, and Saturday appointments and accept most insurances.