The term self-care has become a hot topic lately, especially among women.
And with good reason.
A survey published in October 2000, found that while most women (80%) recognize the value of self-care, an alarming number of married women (69%) and a third of single women, said that they have fewer than 10 minutes a day to practice self-care activities. However, 76% of the women surveyed reported that they spend as many as 10 hours a day taking care of others – their children, husbands, partners, or parents. One in five women said that they take care of others for more than 10 hours a day.
If you are neglecting your own self-care, it’s time you made a plan, set aside some time, and did something good for yourself.
You deserve it.
Why is Self-Care a Necessity?
Self-care is a large demonstrative part of loving yourself. It strengthens you emotionally, physically, intellectually, mentally, and spiritually. It is necessary, very necessary.
Yet all too often women are fed the idea that self-care is wrong or selfish. It is not uncommon for women to hold the notion that making themselves a priority is a bad thing. That simply is not true though.
Everyone – everyone – needs and deserves care, love, and nurturing. Practicing regular self care has been shown to reduce stress, reduce or relieve depression and anxiety, minimize anger and frustration, increase energy, improve concentration, and boost happiness. It has also been clinically proven to lower risks of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Remember, little issues can become big problems if not taken care of in a timely manner. Things that seem small today can snowball into something that has a much bigger impact on your health. This is why self care is so important. Here’s where you can start.
Make a Plan to Take Care of Your Physical Health
Neglecting your physical health should never be something that is shoved to the backburner – yet so, many women do it. When you feel that you have so much on your plate, thinking about your own health just seems like too much. It is easy to get overwhelmed.
So, make your health a priority and make a plan to take care of it.
Get Enough Sleep – Adults ages 18 to 64 should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Young people ages 14 to 17 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night while adults over 65 need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Engage in Physical Activity Daily – Experts recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day or 15 minutes of intense exercise. This can include walking, participating in a fun fitness class, or lifting weights. The key is to get out and move as well as minimize sitting during the day.
Eat Healthily – A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, feel better, have more energy, and stay healthier. Make sure you eat plenty of fresh, whole foods every day.
Avoid Putting Toxins into Your Body – There are a lot of things on the market today that simply are not good for you – and they can have a detrimental effect on your health. Avoid processed foods, sugar, foods high in sodium (including diet drinks), artificial colors and flavors (like aspartame), as well as substances like nicotine, excessive alcohol, and misused or abused drugs. Counter toxins in your system with foods rich in antioxidants.
Get Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Testing – The two most common STIs (chlamydia and gonorrhea) rarely have any notable symptoms. This is why we recommend testing, even if you don’t have symptoms. Maintain your reproductive health by following the CDC testing guideline.
Prioritize Your Emotional Health
Emotional health and physical health go hand in hand, and it is important that you don’t neglect it. Stress management, getting counseling, and fostering healthy relationships all help you take care of your mental health. Taking care of your physical health also has a trickle-down effect and improves your mental health as well.
Mental health can be a taboo subject in circles, but it shouldn’t be. Some Christian circles frown upon talk of depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues, but the truth is, all you have to do is read the book of Psalms to see that a good portion of it is devoted to David’s struggle with depression. We are human. We struggle sometimes. And that is OK.
If you struggle, give yourself permission to get the help you need.
Pray, Worship, and Study the Word
Throughout scripture there are uplifting verses to help you get through anything that life throws at you. All you have to do is get in there and study it out. Prayer has a way of grounding us, of connecting us to our creator and helping us to feel calm and focused.
Praise and worship are powerful weapons against depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and other negative emotions that drag you down. There is something so uplifting and calming about putting on praise music and just getting lost in it.
Studying the Word is also a great way to immerse yourself in the promises and blessings that are found throughout the pages of the Bible. Anytime you give your worries over to God you are practicing the ultimate in self care.
Humans are social creatures. Some people need more interaction or connection that others, but everyone needs at least some. In fact, social isolation and loneliness has been linked to increased risk of dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety, and early death. Make sure you schedule some social interaction regularly, at least a couple of times a week.
Go to lunch, dinner, or even coffee with friends. Have a movie night. If you can’t get together in person, talk to them on the phone or on video chat. You can also join a special interest group where you meet regularly with other like minded individuals to socialize. People need people. That is how God created us in His perfect design of community and family.
Choose Healthy Relationships
Most people have been in at least one toxic relationship and know the pain, confusion, and frustration that it causes. Healthy relationships help you stay healthier so take inventory of your relationships to determine if they are truly healthy for you — or not. When in doubt, go with your gut, talk to a counselor, or ask a trusted friend to help you assess your relationships.
If you don’t know what a healthy relationship (not just romantic) looks like, here are a few characteristics you should look for:
- More contentment than conflict
On the other hand, unhealthy relationships may look more like this:
- Apathy – not investing in the relationship
- Jealousy or possessiveness
- Ridicule or mocking
- Withholding affection
- Instability – leaves the relationship or threatens to leave
- Threatens to take the children, pets, things important to you
- Withholds monetary support
- Relationship is based only on what you can provide (money, sex, support, etc.) with nothing in return
- Every problem is your fault
- Starts arguments for no reason, especially right before an important day at work or school, such as a test or presentation
- Shaming and Criticism
- Fear of the other’s temper
- Physical harm (hitting, punching, kicking, etc.)
These toxic traits can be found in romantic relationships, parental relationships, and even in your friendships. Take inventory and if you see any of the red flags here, it is time to reevaluate the relationship and it is probably a good idea to put some distance between yourself and that person.
Establish Healthy Boundaries
All healthy relationships have boundaries. It isn’t a selfish move on your part, but a healthy move to have a more fulfilling relationship. There are all types of boundaries, ranging from rigid to very relaxed. It is up to you to decide which boundaries to set for each relationship you have. It may mean something as simple as learning to say no, or it could mean putting physical distance between yourself and someone else.
Establish boundaries with your family, friends, romantic partners – don’t lose you. At work, find ways that work for you that allow you to have a healthy work-life balance. Your job is not your identity so don’t let it consume you. Even if you have a job that has you on call or if you work from home, you still need to carve out time where you are separate from it. For instance, keep your work in your office only. Don’t let it bleed out into the rest of your home or affect family times.
Learn to Love Yourself
Self-care isn’t selfish. It is not a self-centered activity. It is not wrong to take care of yourself – to love yourself. Learning to love yourself is important. When you love yourself, you will take care of yourself. It’s just that simple.
Start looking at the good things in you – and yes, there are good things. If you struggle with that, find just one good thing and build from there. It is important that you realize you have value in this world. You are important. You are necessary. You have worth. You are loved.
It’s time you recognized how awesome you truly are and love the incredible being that you are.
If you think you might be pregnant and feel alone, contact us today for a no-cost, confidential appointment with us at Pregnancy Care Clinic.