It’s easy to remember to take care of ourselves when we’re already feeling sick.
But it’s harder to make it a priority when we’re either too busy or consumed by technology to make time for it. There’s always something else more important to take care of, or someone else that needs our help, and then Me-time just falls off the list.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care refers to any practice or activity that maintains our physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental wellbeing. It requires ongoing commitment through helpful actions and attitudes that will help keep your body and brain functioning at the optimum level.
Myths about self-care abound – self-care is NOT:
- About adding more to your to-do list. Instead, it’s about identifying what is beneficial for you and then making a commitment to prioritise those activities.
- It’s not an emergency plan for when you are so stressed, you are already close to burnout. Rather, the idea is to identify strategies that work for you, and implement them into your regular routine so that you can look after yourself forever, not just today.
- It’s not about who in your life needs it more. In order to meet your personal and/or professional commitments, you need to be well enough to do it.
How do I get started with Self-Care?
First of all, you need to figure out what works best for you, and then make a plan as to when and how you will use these strategies.
Self-care takes effort and practice, and if we want to take better care of ourselves long-term, we need to practise it consistently.
There are different aspects of self-care, therefore it’s important to choose activities that are meaningful to you. Below are some suggestions that you might find useful.
- Professional – This includes activities that will help you to perform consistently at the level expected of you, for example, setting clear boundaries, or engaging in regular supervision/peer consultation.
- Physical – Activities that help you to stay fit and healthy will allow you to get through work and personal commitments, eg healthy diet, adequate exercise, good sleep hygiene, taking lunch breaks, using your sick leave when you are sick.
- Psychological/Emotional – Activities that will help you to feel clear-headed and allow you to address your emotional needs. Some ideas might be keeping a journal, learning to say “Yes” to yourself and your needs, calling on others for help, being aware of your own self-talk, and making time for relaxation and hobbies.
- Spiritual – This involves anything we do to further our connection with our higher self, such as engaging in meditation or other reflective practices, going to church/temple/mosque, doing yoga.
Once you’ve created your own personal Self-Care plan, keep it somewhere you can see it every day. Try to stick to your plan and practice the activities regularly.
When starting out, you might like to build in reflection time at the end of the day; ask yourself whether anything got in the way, and what you can do to address it. Everything takes time to become a habit, so remember to check in and be realistic about your plan.
Author: Katherine Vuong, B Beh Sc (Hons), MAPS.
Please Note: Katherine Vuong is not currently practising at Vision Psychology, however if you call us on (07) 3088 5422 we would be happy to suggest another therapist at our practice with experience in this area.
Developing a self-care plan (2019). ReachOut Australia. Retrieved from https://schools.au.reachout.com/articles/developing-a-self-care-plan