In a fast-paced world where others are depending on us, it’s easy to neglect our own needs. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t show up as your best self if your needs haven’t been taken care of. By neglecting self-care, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, we’re also less able to serve the people in our lives or perform well at work.
By now, you’re probably well aware that self-care is more than just your skincare routine or a trip to the salon. Self-care has been described as “taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others.” Real self-care isn’t about escaping the stresses of life. Rather, it’s about doing the things that are necessary to create a life you don’t need to escape from. This often requires doing things you may not want to do, to reduce future stresses and to make life easier in the long run. It may require difficult or uncomfortable tasks, habits, or conversations.
Are you taking a holistic approach to your self-care? Here are four aspects of self-care that are commonly overlooked or neglected.
In a recent survey, almost 75% of Americans ranked finances as the most significant source of anxiety in their lives. For millennials and Gen Z’ers, there is an even greater likelihood of financial stress, given the harsh economic climate they were forced to come of age in. Millennials are more likely to be in debt, and less likely to have savings than Baby Boomers did in their 20’s and 30’s.
Financial self-care means doing the things that are necessary to reduce your likelihood of experiencing anxiety related to your money. This can include setting a budget, tracking your finances, reviewing your statements, and setting financial goals. Establishing an emergency fund can help ease anxiety because you’ll know that you can handle anything that may unexpectedly arise. By taking the time to keep your finances in order, you’re less likely to be stressed out by them. Financial stability brings a sense of ease and comfort.
Practical self-care consists of the tasks that will help your life to run more smoothly. When these things are in place, you’re better able to show up as your best self for the people in your life. Practical self-care can look different for everyone, depending on their needs and lifestyle. Someone who has a tendency to skip meals during busy workdays may benefit from meal prepping and packing a lunch bag to take to work. Those who struggle to make decisions in the mornings may benefit from selecting their outfit the night before, to reduce the possibility of stress tomorrow. Consider the situations in your life that tend to cause the most stress and put practical measures in place to make things easier for yourself.
Other examples of practical self-care include taking care of laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks, getting your car serviced, and optimizing your electronic devices.
Spiritual self-care includes those activities that nurture your spirit and help you to find meaning in the world. For some people, this includes practicing a religion, but there are many other examples of spiritual self-care. Practicing meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature can help to bring a sense of oneness with the world around you. Take the time to unplug from technology and read inspiring books or articles. Other examples of spiritual self-care include practicing gratitude, creating a vision board, dedicating time for self-reflection and journaling.
Work is a big part of our lives and can affect our overall wellbeing. Finding fulfillment in your work and reducing work-related stressors are important for your mental and emotional health. Day-to-day examples of professional self-care include using tools and resources to improve your efficiency and productivity. Evaluate your workload to ensure you aren’t taking on more than you can handle. Take breaks throughout the workday to avoid getting burned out. Maintaining good relations with your coworkers also leads to a more fulfilling work life.
More “big picture” examples of professional self-care include taking professional courses, attending seminars or pursuing new qualifications or skills. Assess your long-term career goals and determine whether you are on the path to attaining those goals. By doing what’s necessary to get to a place of fulfillment in your work, you’ll reduce your stress and be better able to spend time with loved ones or pursue personal goals.
Self-Care and Balance
Stress can affect both your mental and physical health. In addition to increased depression, anxiety and substance abuse, stress can also lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, stomachaches and can even affect the menstrual cycle and immune system. When we’re stressed, we tend to be more irritable or quick to anger, which can impact our relationships. By neglecting certain aspects of self-care, we are likely to experience stress-related to those same areas of life. For example, when we neglect financial self-care, we are more likely to be stressed out by bills and missed payments.
By creating more balance in your life, you will notice a reduction in your stress. Prioritizing self-care allows you to balance the various facets of your life, for a feeling of holistic wellbeing. Although it may sound easy, it can be quite challenging to establish consistent self-care habits in your life. By working with a therapist, you’ll have expert guidance and support, which can hold you accountable as you seek to prioritize self-care and reduce stress. The therapists at Flourish Psychology can guide you in developing the skills needed to reduce stress in the moment and long-term.
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