There are many mental-health terms and phrases that have become popularized over recent years. The familiarity of these words has led to a boom in mental health awareness with people seeking all over the internet for ways to better themselves and their overall wellbeing. One term that you may see quite often on social media is the term “self-care.” Posts that use this term are often followed with a catalogue of ways to promote one’s self-care. While this is extremely helpful and useful information, it is not specific to the needs of the individual, particularly their schedule. I do not know about you, but when I was told to prioritize my self-care and shared a post like the one I described, I thought there was no way I could fit this laundry list of self-care into my life. This blog post is for the people who, like myself, find themselves responding, “Self-care where?”
What Is Self-Care?
Let us start with the definition of ‘self-care’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “self-care is the care for oneself.” You may be thinking that this definition is too simple for what social media has deemed as “self-care,” and you would be correct, but is social media’s definition correct? I have seen many definitions that included daunting words like ‘lifestyle change’ that, with good intent, can overwhelm and dissuade a reader into prioritizing self-care. While, ultimately, our goal would be to have a work/life balance that seamlessly incorporates self-care into our day-to-day lives, it is not an obtainable goal for someone who has never prioritized self-care in the first place. Merriam-Webster’s definition does not seem too far-fetched when we boil it all down: our goal is to care for ourselves. Plain, simple, and to the point, but most importantly, it is obtainable.
Blending It In
I can hear the voices now, “but how is it obtainable when my life is so chaotic?” I hear you and I have solutions! Better yet, I have solutions that do not require drastic lifestyle changes to get us started. First, write out a schedule of your typical day and highlight all of your free time and I mean all of it. This can include time in the shower, driving, taking a lunch, exercising, cooking, etc. The items I listed are not inherently “free,” but we can blend in self-care to enhance their ability to fulfil us and our mental health. For example, if you have an hour long commute home, instead of listening to the news or thinking about what you need to do when you arrive home, let us use that hour of uninterrupted time to our benefit! Listen to music that brings you joy, call a friend or family member to vent about the day’s hardships (hands-free, of course), or, my personal favorite, listen to a comedy podcast to leave the work day at work and transition my mind into a lighter version for my arrival home.
You Can Do It!
We do not need to wake up 4 hours earlier or completely change our lives to prioritize our self-care. Even the smallest change in putting your needs first can make the biggest difference to your mental wellbeing, and that is just the first step! As your wellbeing increases, you may find more motivation to make other changes in your life like asking others for help to increase your self-care time or cutting back on activities that are harmful to your mental health and replacing them with healthier ones. You deserve time to recover and you have the ability to do so, but let us start small first. You can do it!
If you would like to speak to someone about strengthening your relationship with self-care, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.