What if I told you that self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity? There is even research that proves that self-care must be on top of everyone’s list of priorities!
A recent study on health and self-care by the Samueli Foundation states that “more than 9 in 10 physicians (96%) believe self-care should be considered an essential part of overall health, and 88 percent of patients agree.” Yet, “more than 1 in 4 Americans (28%) say they feel guilty when practicing self-care.” Most of them believe that self-care is only possible for people who have enough time. Some even believe that self-care can only be done when they have enough money.
Let’s take a look at what I call the four foundations of self-care. You'll see that most of these don’t require unrealistic time or financial commitments:
- Physical self-care (rest & relaxation, exercise & movement and healthy meals)
- Emotional self-care (stress relief & management, support from family & friends and compassion (first for yourself – and then for others)
- Social self-care (knowing your values, setting boundaries & priorities, and asking for help)
- Spiritual self-care (time for yourself and for what brings you joy, mindfulness & meditation, and personal practices, such as prayer or journaling)
A walk in your neighborhood counts as exercise. Connecting with a loved one can help us feel better. Asking for help can take some burdens off our shoulders (even if it’s just to ask a family member to empty the dishwasher or do the laundry). Watching your favorite show can be nourishing as well – but please leave the bag of chips or popcorn in the kitchen cabinet (or better yet, on the store shelf) and eat something nutritious instead.
Here are some of my favorite self-care tips:
- Spending time alone. Just by myself. With my phone set to “Do not disturb.”
- Asking for help. I love my support network which I call “Team Andrea.”
- Saying no, so I can say yes to what and who matters to me.
- Planning ahead. One of my living room walls recently turned into “planning central” with two big dry erase wall calendars.
- Identifying distractions, so I can set boundaries to protect my attention, time and energy, our most valuable resources.
Yes, your attention, time, and energy are your most valuable resources. And time is not something we can get back. But we can adjust our focus and how we spend our attention. And we can definitely get our energy back when we are depleted. Through rest, relaxation, and what brings us joy.
Starting today, let’s not feel guilty about taking care of yourself anymore!