The Importance of Self Care
Most of us are good at taking care of others. Some of us, however, are not so good at taking care of ourselves. Self care is about looking after our own needs – our bodies, our minds and our feelings – and it is especially important when we are grieving.
Self care is not about being selfish. Quite the opposite, in fact. When we practice self care, we are giving our body and our mind the break they need in order to function effectively in our daily life. Research has shown that practicing self care can result in the following benefits:
- Improved physical health
- Improved mental health
- Better quality of relationships
- Better decision making capabilities
- Becoming better caretakers
- Increased amount of energy
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
It is easy to sometimes get overwhelmed, stressed, and caught up in ‘being busy’ and this is often when self care is overlooked. But it is also when practicing self care is most important. Creating time for yourself is crucial in upholding energy, focus and overall general well-being.
So how do we practice self care? Here are few important tips to remember:
- Listen to your body and listen to your mind: If you need to cry, then cry. If you need to sleep, then sleep. If you need to talk to someone, then call up a good friend and talk. If you need to sit and take a break, then sit and take a break.
- Lower your expectations: This is especially important when you are grieving. Grieving is hard work and demands a lot of our resources. Do not be critical of yourself if you make a mistake or if you can’t get everything done in a day. It’s okay.
- Ask for help: Nobody can do it all by themselves. Call a friend, a family member, a neighbor and ask for a helping hand. Most people would be thrilled to help.
- Exercise: Physical exercise can improve your body and your mind so be sure to stay active (Important: If you have not exercised much in the past, please consult your doctor before commencing any exercise routine)
- Eat well: It’s easy to skip a meal when we are busy or feeling ‘low’. Maintaining a healthy diet can help keep us strong and alert.
- Sleep: Sleep is essential for your health and well being. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are having troubles sleeping.
Taking care of yourself is the backbone to functioning well. We hope that you will take time each and every day to practice self care.
PS> Just to get you started, here are few quick and simple self care activities that you can do at any time:
- Listen to your favorite music
- Go for a nice walk
- Watch your favorite movie
- Bask in the sun for a few minutes
- Take a nice long bath
- Wrap yourself in a blanket and enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea
- Unplug – shut off your phone, computer, and email for one hour
- Stand up and stretch
- Laugh – watch your favorite comedy or read a few jokes on the internet
- Pet a dog or a cat
- Meditate (see below for a quick and easy breathing exercise)
- Call a friend just to say ‘hello’
- Enjoy a favorite meal
- Paint or write something
- Read a good book
- Take a nap
4-7-8 Breathing exercise:
Try this simple breathing exercise as a way to manage stress or to simply calm yourself.
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, if you prefer.
- Place one hand on your stomach, just below the ribcage and one hand on your chest.
- Breathe in slowly but deeply. Take 4 seconds to breathe in, feeling you stomach move in the process.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Breathe out as silently as you can manage, taking 8 seconds. Once you reach 8, you should have emptied your lungs of air.
- Repeat as many times as you need, making sure to stick to the 4-7-8 pattern.