What exactly is self-care?

When you hear the word “self-care,” do massages and manicures come to mind? You aren’t alone. Self-care is often in the news these days, but there are a lot of misconceptions about what it is. 

So, what is it?

Basically, self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself — physically, emotionally and mentally. While massages and manicures might be a part of that on occasion, there’s so much more you can do!

Since you may be spending more time at home in the coming weeks, now is the perfect time to join in on the self-care movement. Read on as we share a few suggestions for self-care beyond the basics.

Why is self-care important?

First, let’s talk about why self-care is a necessary component of good health and well-being.

If you’re like most of us these days, you spend a good bit of your time taking care of the needs of others, whether those in your family, friends, coworkers or even clients. You’ve probably heard the analogy that you can’t pour from an empty cup.

In other words, if you aren’t devoting time to taking optimal care of yourself, you run the very real risk of burnout and negative effects on your health.

Stress lowers your immune health, too, so caring for yourself isn’t selfish. It’s necessary.

4 ways to practice self-care

When we hear about self-care in the news, it’s often being referenced in terms of pampering ourselves. And while pampering ourselves can certainly be a key part of caring for ourselves, it isn’t the only part.

At its heart, self-care isn’t full of expensive gestures. It’s simply taking necessary steps to live your healthiest, most balanced life. Here are six ways to put that into practice:

  • Take time to meditate. Is meditation a normal part of your daily life? If not, you might want to consider it — or other ways of calming your mind and body. Studies have found that these types of activity can help you effectively manage stress, keeping it from overwhelming your physical and mental health. Meditation specifically has been used for thousands of years as a way of refocusing and relaxing. These days there are a ton of apps out there to help you find the meditation tool that works best for you.
  • Write it out. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a writer, writing offers a ton of benefits. Specifically, writing in a journal can help you pinpoint challenges and identify instances where your emotions are impacted. This, in turn, can help you effectively manage stress. Bonus? If you create a gratitude journal, you’ll also be reaping the benefits of expressing thanks.
  • Carve out time alone. Good news: while time spent socializing is important to our overall health, so is time spent in solitude. Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, quality time spent on your own is valuable. It doesn’t really matter how you use this time — it’s just important that you have time to yourself regularly. So, take up a hobby, read a good book, settle in for a cozy bath or grab to-go food from a favorite restaurant for a quiet dinner at home. Your health will thank you!
  • Set and maintain boundaries. You’ve probably heard the phrase “work/life balance” a few bazillion times. Whether there really is such a thing as a heated debate. But one important component of carving out balance in your life is creating boundaries. Both in your personal and professional life, you need to establish clear boundary lines about what can be expected from you and what should not be expected from you. Beyond creating boundaries with other people and your work, it can also be helpful to set boundaries for yourself. Spending too much time on social media? Set a limit for yourself and stick to it.

More ideas on how to stay healthy — mentally, physically, and spiritually — can be found on Yale University’s “COVID-19 Self-care” webpage.

We encourage you to take excellent care of yourself during this time by practicing social distancing, taking everyday precautions such as hand hygiene, and disinfecting your home regularly. For more information on COVID-19 precautions, please visit our website.