Defining Self Care
Self care is a phrase that has gained popularity recently, but some people may not be sure of exactly what it is and its importance to mental and physical health.
According to Merriam-Webster, self care is defined simply as “care for oneself.” This may sound simple, but it can be more in-depth because how do we “care” for ourselves. There are many paths of care, such as regular preventative care appointments, healthy diet, regular exercise, spending time with friends/family, and using kind words with yourself.
Often, however, that self care gets put “on the back burner” as we give to our patients, family, and friends every day and then may not feel we have the energy to give that same level of care to ourselves. This can lead to burnout, conflict in relationships, increases in stress, anxiety and depression, fatigue, and an overall sense of malaise.
We encourage everyone to think about what you do for self care and how to implement this in your everyday lives. For example, start with scheduling a self care activity for yourself once or twice a week and then adding more as you feel comfortable. Making self care part of your routine will have the most benefit as it will not be a response to symptoms but instead will be more preventative in helping keep you healthy and happy.
Tips for Self Care at Work
- Pack A Healthy Lunch
We work long days and some of us work straight through the lunch hour. Consider planning ahead on your weekend and giving yourself a nutritious lunch and snacks, maybe even something special to savor in the afternoon.
- Stay Hydrated
Water is basic, but often overlooked on our long days. Make sure that you drink plenty of water and be ok with taking the bathroom breaks you need.
- Consider a Walk
Exercise is something that we all want to get to but may struggle with finding the time to devote. On your break, take a walk around your building. This does not need to be long, but try to get outside, breathe, and move your body a little. This can help clear your mind for what comes next in your day.
- Greet Your Work with Intention
Start your day with a goal to be mindful with our patients and with each other. Consider letting those around you know if you have had a rough night or have home issues that are impacting you. The point here is not to make you feel that you need to divulge more than you are comfortable with, but to set yourself up for success by acknowledging your emotions, asking for some support from co-workers, and perhaps then being able to set these things aside and be present in your work.
- Take Your Vacation
Even stay-cations can be crucial to help reset your intentions for work. Plan to take breaks so that you do not get to a place of feeling burned out.
- Ask for Feedback
Consider improving your self-awareness by having genuine conversations with those you work with, not just your direct supervisor. When you do this, consider asking how you come across to others and what changes would be helpful for your co-workers.
Tips for Self Care at Home
Ahhh, sleep, the constant struggle to get enough quality sleep is elusive in our ‘always on’ society. To help, you can practice excellent sleep hygiene, use the do not disturb options on your phone and devices, turn off the television, practice a short breathing exercise before bed, consider skipping alcohol, and avoid nighttime snacking. Consider tracking your sleep with a free or low-cost app such as ‘Sleep.’ Strive to prioritize your sleep to take good care of yourself for a healthy brain and body.
- Be Present
Being in the moment can be challenging when we have so much on our minds. Striving to be in the moment with our loved ones or with ourselves is challenging but rewarding. When preparing for your day take a moment to think about this intention and to be mindful of listening intently and participating in what is happening around you. Consider keeping a gratitude journal of the things you have witnessed through your mindfulness. These do not need to be long journal entries, but a quick snapshot of something that you were present for and feel gratitude toward.
- Positive Self-Talk/Self-Action
We can all have times when we tell ourselves negative things. Try to catch yourself when your thoughts or emotions turn negative and/or self-deprecatory. Pause your thoughts, consider a way to turn the thought or emotion into something positive or constructive. Consider ways to purge powerful thoughts and emotions through humor, exercise, breathing, or in another manner that promotes catharsis without hurting yourself or someone else. Writing positive or constructive things down and posting them where you are reminded of them can help keep this front and center until we are able to internalize the change. Changing our thoughts needs to be intentional and practiced. This does not mean denying yourself emotions, but rather expressing them in a healthy way!
- Eating Intuitively
Try to avoid mindless snacking and eat in moderation in a way that honors what your body needs. This is not about denying or overindulging but in mindful eating. Consider adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet and consume high quality protein while avoiding too many simple carbohydrates that can impact how we think. Gut health and emotional health go hand in hand.
- Get Outside and Move
Bring your water with you and give yourself the gift of self care outside. Whether you use outside time for a moving meditation, time with loved ones, or time for yourself, ‘green time’ in the natural world improves our health and our brain.
Self care and cultivating relationships can be a balancing act. Time for yourself and time for relationships can be demanding, but rewarding. Consider your relationships closely. Are there ones that are worth fighting hard to maintain and are there others that are impacting you negatively? Taking time to think about what we want and need from our relationships and in return what we give to our relationships can help us make mindful decisions about what is important to our own emotional health.
Make sure that you are not all work or all play. Find some balance in your activities and engage in ones that bring joy to your life.
- Do Get Help When Needed
All of us go through periods of our life when we could use extra help. Peak Vista provides short-term therapy for times just like these. Therapy can help you work through an emotionally difficult time of adjustment, loss, or just a new chapter in your life. Therapy can also help us further our emotional health and growth.