Over the past few years, “self-care” has become a buzzword. Scroll through your preferred social media app using #selfcare, and you’ll see MILLIONS of posts. Of course, like any trend, you will find different ways that people practice self-care, but just like any other post or pin, there are plenty of ideas. However, actually engaging in self-care is easily ignored on many to-do lists.
Oxford Languages Dictionary defines self-care as: “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health”; “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”.
What do you need to preserve your health? What does it look like for you to take ‘an active role’ in protecting your well-being?
Some factors contributing to poor self-care are burnout and compassion fatigue. Burnout is quickly becoming one of the main reasons that individuals seek therapy. Clients experiencing burnout often feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, irritable, and easily dysregulated emotionally. Burnout is often seen in environments where there is high stress, long days or work hours, or when individuals experience sleep disturbances or depression and anxiety. Burnout can happen to anyone. Compassion fatigue results from caring for others so much that you aren't caring for yourself. We commonly see this with new parents or individuals caring for their elderly parents. During COVID-19, we’ve witnessed burnout rates at an all-time high due to lockdowns, a persistent health crisis, schooling at home, and constant pivoting due to quarantines or testing positive. Self-care allows you to rest and rejuvenate so that you can manage your stress to avoid burnout.
Here are five ways that you can practice self-care.
- Stay hydrated by drinking at least 6-8 oz glasses of water a day. Keep a water bottle with you to make it easy to remember to drink throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can assist with emotional regulation and stress reduction.
- Take a walk for 15-20 minutes. Daily walks provide physical exercise and give you a mental and physical break during the day.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep at night. Starting the day feeling rested can lead to lower stress levels and overall good brain health.
- Try something new to promote confidence and self-esteem. Research shows that engaging in new experiences creates a sense of accomplishment and gives us positive vibes about ourselves. Set a goal to try one new experience, food, etc., a month!
- Practice self-care regularly. We tend to focus on self-care when we are feeling depleted, but self-care provides more benefits when it is a routine. Put a weekly reminder in your calendar to do something that you enjoy. The more you incorporate self-care into your daily life, the better you can manage your own well-being.
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Kristen Holmes, MS, LPC
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Whitefish Bay, WI 53211