What does self care mean to you?
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One of my favorite ways to take care of myself is going for a massage - I find it incredibly relaxing and I feel great afterward! For the longest time I thought it was impossible for anyone to dislike massages, and then I met my finance. He hates the idea of going for a massage, which for the longest time baffled me… until I started learning about stress management and self care.
So why is self care important anyway? Self care is, well, how we take care of ourselves! How you treat yourself is incredibly important, and it is a big part of how we deal with our stress. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard by now that increased stress, prolonged stress, or just plain not dealing with it can be harmful to your health… but I find that most people don’t fully grasp just how deeply it can affect them. The other side to this coin is if you don’t have a solid self care routine to help you manage stress, you’re probably turning to things like processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol which just worsen these effects even more.
People think there are only a few specific ways to reduce stress and take care of yourself, which is only partially true. For me, the easiest way to explain it is by breaking it down into 3 specific categories. First, are the health behaviors that yes, are important for everyone. These are the ones you hear most about like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, and exercising. These things are the base, that take care of our physical bodies and mental health and, like I already mentioned, tend to go by the wayside really easily if they’re not automatic.
The next two are not so specific. This is where the whole “some people don’t like massages” bit comes in – it’s all individual. We need to find activities that help us relax (the second category) and activities that help us recharge (the third category). For me, a massage is relaxing… for my fiancé, not so much. The one caveat to this is the things that help you “relax and recharge” shouldn’t interfere with the health behaviors we just talked about, it just ends up creating a vicious cycle that makes the effects of stress worse.
What are the things you do to relax and recharge? Maybe it's curling up with a good book, trying out a new recipe, or going for a drive with your favorite music playing. Whatever that is for you, keep it up! If you’re not sure where to start, I always say the best time to practice your stress management techniques is when you're not stressed. You want these things to be automatic, the thing you can fall back on when life kicks it up a notch. Even a small, 5 minute routine built into your day can be extremely powerful!