Getting Started with Self-Care: Refueling the Mind and Body

Getting Started with Self-Care: Refueling the Mind and Body

June 12, 2020

This blog was submitted to the The Mailroom by

Have you ever experienced burnout? It’s a state of physical or emotional exhaustion — in general or when faced with a specific situation, like work or dealing with a challenging family member. Self-care is one of the most effective ways to sidestep burnout. However, self-care is, unfortunately, one of the least used strategies.

When you neglect self-care, all other areas of our lives — without exception — are neglected. You may think you are simply too busy to add self-care to your overpacked calendar, but if you are feeling burned out, depressed, lethargic or drained, then it’s time to think again. Let’s take a deeper look at self-care and what it is, how it helps and ways to get started.

Self-Care: What It Is and Isn’t

You may have been taught that self-care is selfish or egotistical; in fact, Americans often measure worth by how much we have to sacrifice. However, those misconceptions can actually hold you back from being truly selfless. When you take time for self-care, you are better able to excel at your other responsibilities because you aren’t overwhelmed, overworked or burned out. Think of self-care like gas for your car. You can’t drive your kids to the doctor or get to an important meeting on time without gas. And if you are constantly driving while low on gas, you’ll always be stressed and anxious about running out of fuel. Like gas, self-care refuels you, keeping you excited and energized to manage the responsibilities and people you care for. Some simple recharging self-care activities are:

  • Holistic Wellness: Massage, chiropractic work, and acupuncture are three of the most common forms of holistic health care. You’ve probably even been to one yourself. (Tip: If you hope to rely on your health insurance plan to pay for one of these services, you’ll want to do your research.)
  • Sleep Hygiene: Sleep is essential for brain and body wellness. We often sacrifice sleep to whittle down our overpacked to-do lists. Have you ever felt anxious going to bed about something you didn’t complete? Make a point to get around seven to nine hours of sleep each night to give your mind and body time to rejuvenate.
  • Improving Home Air Quality: If there’s too much moisture in your home, you may eventually have to deal with a mold problem which can cause coughing, dry skin, and breath shortness. To control mold levels, keep humidity low, fix any leaks, and keep your home well ventilated.
  • Looking Your Best: It may not seem like much, but a new look could give your confidence a boost. Using a hair straightener or pair of hair clippers can give you the look you want without an expensive trip to the salon.
  • Dealing with Your Finances: Believe it or not, tackling debt and getting control of your finances can help a lot when it comes to your mental health. So, consider things like working as a financial advisor or learning about the benefits of refinancing your home, both of which can help relieve some stress in your life.

Health and Happiness: Benefits of Self-Care

Studies have shown that self-care can reduce anxiety, boost productivity, improve and stabilize mood, fire up your immune system and lower stress. When you are less affected by stress, you are also less affected by heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Self-care allows you to feel lighter and less burdened. How can you give to others when your cup is empty? It won’t happen overnight, but self-care is like a building muscle — you have to work it a bit to see improvement. Some activities to help establish self-care include:

  • Replenishing your gut with good bacteria, which can improve your mind and body. Learn more about these types of healthy bacteria and what they can do for your overall health.
  • Exploring something new — bonus if that new thing contributes to your mental and physical health, such as yoga or Pilates (a mat class typically costs $10 - $20).
  • Asking a friend or two to share with you their ideas of self-care and trying it out together.

Scheduling Self-Care: How to Make It a Habit

Self-care is a hard habit to start. This is because we tend to prioritize things that are important to others or that play a role in meeting other people’s expectations. The only person holding you accountable for self-care is you. When you start a self-care activity, you might feel great in the beginning, so after a while, you cut it back in order to make room for work, family or friends. And that’s okay; you should always try to be flexible and non-judgemental with yourself. You can work on maintaining self-care habits by:

  • Doing something that requires you to make an appointment, and go ahead and make several in advance — and then stick to them.
  • Paying ahead for the service you are getting.
  • Making it a family activity so that your loved ones can benefit as well.

Read a book, soak in an oil bath, ride a bike, sign up for a class, work on holistic wellness, unplug your phone, jog with your dog, take a weekend trip — these suggestions are just the tip of the self-care iceberg. It’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves when we feel busy or overwhelmed, but remember, self-care can help prevent that sense of burnout from happening in the first place, and lead to a healthier, happier you.



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