No matter what age you are self-care is important. For those who care for others most of their days, the term self-care may seem foreign, but it is a term that is becoming more and more used and its significance increasingly important.
I see those who are in their 60’s or beyond as having been caregivers to their children and to their spouses for the biggest part of their lives. They have spent a good part of their lives caring for others without too much thought about taking time to care for themselves. Back in the day, self-care would have seemed selfish to many.
So, what exactly do I mean by “self-care”?
Self-care is taking an active role in protecting one’s well-being and happiness. Seem a little vague? Well, think about things you enjoy doing that you don’t take the time for often as you are too busy working or caring for others. Perhaps soaking in a tub, taking a nice peaceful walk, reading a book, meeting a friend, or getting a facial. It does not have to be a specific activity, but rather something that makes you feel good, revived, and renewed.
More and more experts agree that the act of self-care increases the health of the individual, both mentally and physically.
Let’s explore some ways to practice self-care:
Indulge yourself after a shower– after taking a shower maybe you normally whip on your clothes and get on to the next task. Think about consciously slowing things down and make time for you after your shower. Perhaps using a body lotion, you really like, getting some new pajamas, making time for facial cream, and just focus on slowing the process down.
Make a bath special – why not incorporate some essential oils? Turn off the bathroom lights and put some tea lights in the bathroom. Maybe find some peaceful music to play and cut some cucumbers for placing over your eyes.
Sleep in / take a nap– during the work week, many of us are so busy working, taking care of the home; getting up early and going to bed late, but don’t cheat yourself on some well-deserved sleep. Lack of sleep has been associated with strokes, diabetes, and an increased risk of heart attack.
Read a book – go out and pick up a book that looks interesting and set aside time just for you to indulge in an afternoon just sitting in your favourite chair and reading. Turn the phone off and stay away from the computer. Maybe even make a snack so that you don’t have to tear yourself away from a great read because you are hungry.
Bake – if you enjoy baking when was the last time you did it? Perhaps look for a new recipe and indulge in buying all of the ingredients and take the time to enjoy making a new thing and of course follow it by eating it!
Pet a pet – Did you know that depression is linked to low serotonin levels, and petting an animal causes the release of this hormone. If you own a pet, you are ahead of the curve in this department, but why not take Sparky out for an afternoon together just enjoying nature! Walking your furry friend can lead to lowered blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and of course adds to your exercise for the week.
Meet a friend for coffee – with most of us attached to social media, e-mail, and cell phones, it seems that we have so little time for actually connecting with people. When was the last time you sat in a coffee shop in a big cozy chair by the fireplace with a nice mug of joe while enjoying the company of a good friend? Chances are it has been too long! Don’t wait, make a plan to meet with a friend today!
Whatever it is that can bring you joy, make time for that. Make time for you, it is not selfish, its self-care.