In a world full of stressors and demands for our time and attention, it is becoming increasingly difficult to take proper care of our minds and bodies. Between work, education, household chores, and other obligations, people have less and less time to do things they enjoy or even just wind down and relax.
It can become so easy to get trapped in a rut. For example, at one point, I was going to school full time and working a full-time job as well. My typical day basically looked like this: wake up, do homework (eat while doing homework), take a break from homework long enough to do a few chores around the house, go to work, do more homework on my lunch break, finish working, eat dinner, take a shower, go to bed. Rinse and repeat this same pattern for the other 4 workdays and add in errands and the occasional familial commitment on days off. I’m sure a lot of you can relate.
So what exactly is self-care, and why is it so important? Self-care is, well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It is a conscious choice to do things that are beneficial to your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. It is purposely stepping outside of the rut to give your mind and body what they need.
Why Is Self-Care So Important?
Self-care is more important now than ever. Stress and mental health issues are more prevalent than ever in modern times and are only becoming moreso. According to Mental Health America, almost 50 million Americans had a mental health condition as of 2020; this was nearly two million more than in 2019.
This number was increasing even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The constant stress that we are under worsens existing mental health issues and can also lead to new mental and physical health issues. Practicing self-care can help significantly reduce stress, which helps reduce the risk of illness and improve your mental health.
What Does Self-Care Look Like?
At this point, you might be wondering what self-care looks like and how you can practice it. Well, the good news is that there is no one right or wrong answer here. Self-care can be anything that makes you feel happier and more relaxed. This can be anything from aromatherapy to meditation. Having a relaxing soak with bath bombs, curling up with a good book and a nice cup of tea, or even taking a much-needed nap can be self-care.
It really can be anything that helps you cope with your stress and give your physical and mental health a boost. The most important thing to remember when it comes to self-care is that taking time to put yourself and your needs first is not selfish. It is taking time to be mindful and figure out what it is you need and act on it, whether it’s taking time to breathe and destress, reconnecting with something you enjoy, or just catching up on some rest.