You hear it all the time lately: self care Sunday, self care bubble bath, or self care face mask. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing – I do this all the time! Taking time to pamper yourself is important, but there’s much more to self care than an occasional bath.
Self care is defined as, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” And, while bubble baths and face masks may be an important part of that for some people, they don’t encompass self care in its totality.
So how can you start practicing self care? Here are 5 ways you can get started in addition to tonight’s face mask:
1. Saying “no” to things that don’t serve you
This one can be hard, in fact I’ve talked about it before.
Whether it’s turning down a happy hour, saying no to a date you don’t want to go on, or admitting to your boss that you can’t work on your day off, you need to set boundaries and allow yourself to enforce them.
For example, I’m swamped at work. I’m currently managing five clients and working overtime to keep my projects on schedule. So, when my company got a new client, I went to my manager and told him there wasn’t a way I could take that client on.
I didn’t approach him in a rude or aggressive way on the topic, but I let him know my workload was already overwhelming, and that I knew client work would suffer if I had to manage a sixth client. So, based on our conversation, he gave the client to someone else on the team.
Had I not addressed this with my boss, I could have ended up in a situation where I was completely stressed out, barely sleeping, and working every weekend. But instead we had an honest conversation about workload and project management.
In my boss’ defense, he already knew how busy I was and wasn’t planning to give me the client anyways (one of the many signs of a great boss), but it was still a relief to talk it out.
2. Making a list of things that you love about yourself
This can seem so silly, but it’s a great way to remind yourself of everything that makes you great. This can be big accomplishments, something about your physical appearance (team love your body right here!), personality traits, and more.
It’s so easy to constantly bog yourself down with negative thoughts (anyone else guilty of the “how could I be so stupids” or the “I wish I was skinnier” or an occasional “I suck?”) and forget what makes us so great.
This is not the place to be shy or humble either! It’s time to celebrate YOU!
Here’s a little list I made myself tonight:
- What a caring dog mom I am
- How empathetic I am
- How charitable I am
- My smile
- My loving relationship with Alex
3. Letting go of toxic relationships
This doesn’t just have to be a toxic relationship with a significant other – it can be a friend, family member, or anyone else in your life. Holding onto toxic relationships tears you down over time – whether you notice it or not.
I had a toxic relationship in my life last year that had detrimental effects on my wellbeing.
I was grinding my teeth from stress so bad I had to start wearing a mouth guard, had to go to physical therapy for what I’d initially thought was a muscle issue, and was so sick I thought I had severe food intolerances.
Soon after the toxic relationship was over, I stopped grinding my teeth, no longer needing physical therapy, and even my stomach issues cleared up. It wasn’t an overnight change, but it definitely correlated over time.
I’m not saying a toxic relationship is causing you to have a physical reaction – but it might be without you realizing it.
If someone is tearing you down, manipulating you, disrespecting you, or mistreating you, you are not obligated to keep them in your life because you’re related, you’ve known them for a long time, or because someone else wants you to.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
When you’re overworked and overbooked, it’s easy to sacrifice sleep. And to a certain extent it might be manageable for you. But after a while you’re going to need sleep.
Make an effort to go to bed early when you need to. Whether that means setting boundaries on how much overtime you’ll work, skipping a night out, or recording your favorite show to watch another day, do what you need to do to go to bed earlier.
With so much research showing why a good night’s sleep in important, it’s hard to ignore the benefits.
5. Taking a break
That sounds vague, and it’s meant to be.
If you need a break, take it. Whether it’s taking a day off work (mental health days are just as important as the sick days you take for for the flu), signing off social media for a few days, taking a break from drinking, or just spending a night in (this is where those bubble baths and face masks can fit in too!), sometimes you just need a break.
If you recognize that something is having a negative impact on you then take some time to re-evaluate your relationship with it, and then you can rekindle it. Just like letting go of a toxic relationship, you may need breaks from other things in your life too.
How are you practicing self-care? Share it in the comments below!