Self-care tips to live by and why taking care of yourself is important
What is self-care and why is it important?
While the term ‘self-care‘ is not new, it has been spreading rapidly throughout society in recent years. In fact, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, online Google searches for self-care soared by 250% and have continued on an upward trajectory since then. But what does self-care actually mean and why is it important for our mental health?
One common misconception is that self-care is an act of self-indulgence. If anything it’s the opposite. Self-care simply refers to activities that preserve our physical, emotional and mental health so we can be healthy, accomplish the things we need to each day and help care for others. It’s a holistic practice and does not refer to a singular skill, rather a variety of tasks tailored to meet each individual’s diverse needs.
Every individual typically engages in some form of self-care daily when we choose what foods we eat, whether to exercise or not, what our hygiene practices are, what time we go to bed, how we take care of ourselves to prevent illness and whether we choose to participate in activities that help relieve our daily stressors.
Paying attention to our body and mind is important in helping us identify when something may be affecting our physical or emotional health so we can address these concerns before they become too much to handle. By actively incorporating self-care activities into our daily routine we become more effective and resilient against stressors and can also help to avoid or reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.
What self-care strategies exist and what are the most beneficial?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to self-care. While there may be similarities between strategies, self-care is subjective and unique to each individual. Self-care practices may also change over time as what may work in certain circumstances or at particular stages in life, may not work for others.
An effective way to think about your own self-care strategies is by actively evaluating your coping skills. How do you typically deal with the demands of daily life? When you are faced with challenges, do you adopt positive coping strategies like deep breathing, meditation, journalling, reading, exercise or connecting with others? Or do you engage in negative coping strategies like yelling, pacing, withdrawing from loved ones or skipping meals? If you answered the latter, evaluate what you need during these difficult times. Are there barriers that prevent you from maintaining self-care? If so, how can you address these barriers? If you find yourself continually using negative strategies, then begin by choosing the negative behaviour you feel is most harmful, and identify a positive strategy to replace it with.
A great way to evaluate your coping skills is by keeping track of them in an app like YourCrew. Self-care does involve sharing the ups and downs with others and YourCrew provides a platform for you to set up a strong support network of people who are then for you when you need support, before you know you need it. In addition, you can jot down your coping strategies and what you did well or would do differently next time in your journal, and track your moods daily so you have an active record and are more aware of your self-care strategies.
Why self-care is important when you are supporting a young person in need
Adopting positive self-care strategies is particularly important when you are supporting a loved one or crewing for a friend or young person in need.
Neglecting your personal needs can cause your own mental health to suffer when you are focusing on the needs of another. For example you may notice you feel more anxious, experience more restless sleep or decreased self-esteem.
If this is the case and you find your self-care strategies are no longer effective or you are crewing for someone who is engaging in more negative strategies than positive, reaching out to your Crew for help and accessing tools like YourCrew’s Pathways to Help and Professional & Urgent Help can support you or your loved one in accessing the right support at the right time.
Finally, it’s important to remember that self-care shouldn’t be a fleeting trend in your life. It is a continuous process of reflection, evaluation and investing in yourself so you can maintain a happy and healthy life and have effective ways to cope through life’s tough moments.
Have you downloaded YourCrew yet? Take a more active approach to your self-care routine by setting up a strong support crew, journalling and tracking your daily moods.