Ep 65: What is self-care, really?

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Healthy self-care is a key part of good mental health. But what does self-care look like for you? Is it an event you schedule when life overwhelms you?

Or is it a daily practice that lets you invest in and care for yourself?

Here are a few ways to understand how self-care can fit into your crazy, busy life.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 65: What is self-care really?

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Self-care is definitely one of the most important things you can do to feel healthy and strong, physically and mentally.

But when I say self-care, what images come up in your mind?

  • Maybe you see a lady with cucumbers on her eyes getting a facial while holding a mimosa.
  • Or maybe you see someone sitting Crisscross applesauce on a yoga mat meditating next to the beach.
  • Or maybe you see a group of women out having Sunday brunch and laughing together.

Self-care is indeed all of those things. But it’s not limited to the things that you set aside special time for.

The whole point of self-care is to replenish and recharge. That means self-care has to happen on a regular basis.

So while a spa day or a Sunday brunch with your besties is a terrific way to let your hair down and connect, that kind of self-care can get expensive if you do it a lot.

And I’m guessing it’s pretty hard for everybody to schedule too.

Here’s the thing to know.

Self-care isn’t about indulging yourself.

Self-care is about giving back to yourself and filling your own cup.

Every day.

I’m guessing you’re pouring from that cup a lot every day.

As a therapist I have to be very intentional about self-care to make sure I have what I need to help others every day.

So for me that means things like exercise, good sleep, and eating healthy food. Those three are gold standard ways to care for yourself every day.

If you have a stressful job with a lot of responsibility or you’re a caregiver for an aging parent, you absolutely should be doing these three things every day.

That’s you caring for yourself in the same way that you’re caring for others.

Self-care can take on some other forms, though.

I’ve said many times before that reading is my self-care. This has been the case since I was old enough to pick up a book or newspaper.

Reading gives me knowledge, increases my vocabulary, and helps me find meaning and insight in my own experiences.

When I feel like I need to recharge, reading is the first place I go.

Of course, I grab my iPad to read now. 🤓💻

Reading allows me to give back to myself and invest in what I might need tomorrow to show up for others.

But it means that when I’m reading I’m not taking care of some other things that are on my list. Maybe even some kind of important things.

This isn’t selfish. Taking time to read is an act of empathy and compassion towards myself.

It’s my way of saying to myself that I care about you and want you to be well.

As a society we really suck at this kind of self-care.

We just go from thing, to thing, to thing with no break in between.

Unfortunately we have taught this to our youngest generations. Already, Generations Y, Z, and whoever is coming after that is already struggling with anxiety from being overscheduled and worried about the future.

Back in the day, we kind of had some natural buffers for our stress.

  • We walked more because we only had one car.
  • Before TV really took hold, people went outside to enjoy nature and talk to their neighbors after the day’s work was done.
  • There was kind of a natural rhythm of self-care built in to the day.

Only we didn’t call it self-care. We just called it… Wednesday. 😜

Now we keep pushing so hard until we kind of melt down and feel like we need a large block of time to recuperate from everything.

So we schedule a spa day, and we enjoy it.

But how do you keep from getting to this point where you feel like you have to set an entire day aside to recover from your life?

You need a better strategy.

You need to have a plan to make sure you have what you need every day to stay resilient to all the random stuff that happens to you.

How do you find time for self-care in your busy day?

Well, you can schedule it in your calendar just like anything else.

I know that sounds kind of like a duh, but it can be challenging to pull off because it may not feel as important as your son’s soccer practice.

And maybe the practice does run late or you run into some other scheduling conflict.

But when you see that entry on the calendar, then you have to do something with it. Scheduling it at least puts self-care on your radar.

Create a recurring entry on your calendar for whatever will help you hit the pause button in your push to get stuff done.

Try making it the first thing you put in your schedule when you do your planning.

Another way to find more time for self-care is to simply tag it on to something else.

I used to work really close to the beach so I commuted home on the road that ran right next to the beach instead of taking the busy highway.

I made a point of stopping by the beach most days when I started back home.

It wasn’t an extra trip because I had to go by there to get home anyway. I didn’t bring a whole bunch of beach paraphernalia with me so I couldn’t make the trip a thing.

I just got out of the car and sat in the sand, business casual wardrobe and all.

That time became a buffer to help purge some of the day’s stress before I went home. My family learned to appreciate it too because it meant I brought a little less stress home with me.

What are some things you can do to recharge your battery in the middle of other stuff you’re already doing?

  • Can you enjoy a quick browse through your favorite bookstore while you’re waiting for your son’s soccer practice to be over (do we even still have bookstores?)
  • Maybe you can you sit in your car and enjoy your favorite smoothie for a few minutes while you’re out running errands.

You’re the master here.

Get creative and find ways to inject self-care in your day in small ways.

If you feel like life is running you over and you’re having trouble dealing with everyday stuff, getting a handle on your self-care is a good place to start.

Because when life gets real, self-care is sometimes the first thing to go.

Good self-care will be the deciding factor in you feeling less overwhelmed about your life.

Find ways to care for yourself every day and see if you don’t feel more empowered to make better decisions in your life.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

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If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

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