Self-care – what it really means to look after yourself
Working long hours, being a parent, or being a carer are all situations in which people can become overly stressed and worn out. The term self-care is often shared on social media via memes or used by well-meaning friends to their peers. However, what does the term actually mean and is it really all about bubble baths by candle-light?
Look after your health
Self-care is quite a self-explanatory term, yet few people manage to interpret its true meaning. One of the most essential ways self-care can be implemented is by having regularly health-checks. Lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet can lead to, not only problems with your physical health, but also with your mental health. Being unfit can impede your ability to do even the simplest of tasks, such as playing sports with your child, or walking into town to do errands. As a result, some may find themselves become extremely unhappy with their diminishing abilities and also their appearance. If you have not been to the doctor for some time, make an appointment with the nurse at your local clinic for a check-up. This can include blood tests, BMI calculations, and blood pressure checks. Should anything be untoward, the nurse will suggest you make an appointment with your GP. Similarly, with the dentist and the optician: ensure you make regular dental health appointments and have your eyes assessed if you haven’t done so in some time.
Find the time
One of the most common reasons for self-neglect is not having enough time. The important thing to remember is that looking after yourself can save time in the future, as health check-ups will alert you to any potential health problems or any existing issues of which you were unaware. Set aside time each week, or even each day if possible, to relax (and yes this can be in a bubble bath surrounded by candles) by yourself. Although it may seem as if you have no time, there is always time, and if this isn’t immediately apparent, make time. Carers – arrange to have any dependents looked after by a trusted friend, relative, or professional care-giver so you can do something fun for yourself.
All about me
Many people, especially those that are caring for children or other adults, can find it difficult to accept the concept that it is not selfish to look after oneself. When addressed logically, self-care is actually necessary to ensure a person can continue in their role of carer as if a carer becomes run down or ill as a result of self-neglect, they will no longer be able to assist others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself and this includes maintaining your mental health. Banish all thoughts of self-care being selfish and begin to realise that you matter.
Should you be experiencing depressive bouts or feelings of sadness, consult a health professional, such as your GP or a counsellor via self-referral.