Improving Your Self-Care

Improving Your Self-Care

The topic of self-care has been discussed openly and often over the past decade. Despite the increased attention paid to this concept across recent years, the practice of self-care remains, for many, a bit mysterious or perhaps even confusing and misunderstood.

The following is a brief attempt to conceptualize self-care as those behaviors we do that are most aligned with our goals and values.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is a commitment we make to ourselves. Self-care is a practice. As such, it is any activity we intentionally do to support our physical, mental, or emotional well-being. Not only can the right kind of self-care improve our health and life, but it can also improve relationships we have with others.

Some examples of self-care might be:

  • Creating better habits
  • Eating right
  • Consistently obtaining good sleep
  • Exercising
  • Meditation
  • Spending quality time with loved ones
  • Making time to enjoy a hobby
  • Learning something new

Self-care is not always fun or easy, but you do it anyway because you know that the activity is what is best for you. In this way, self-care is a bit like acting as your own parent – making sure you do the things you do not necessarily feel like doing because doing so is what your mind, body, or spirit need.

What Self-Care Is Not

Self-care is not necessarily about making yourself feel better.

Person A has had a stressful, tiring day. They practice adaptive self-care and so when they get home they change clothes, go for a 3-mile run, and cook a healthy dinner that refuels their body.

Person B has also had a stressful, tiring day, but practices maladaptive self-care. On their way home, person B stops at the store for a bag of chips and a gallon of ice cream and then spends their evening eating poorly in an attempt to make the bad day go away.

This maladaptive style of self-care is not effective – it likely feels good in the short term, but perhaps does not move one toward their goals and values in the long term.

Self-care is about making decisions based on what is aligned with your goals and values and this may not always be what you feel like doing in a particular moment.

Self-care should also not be confused with pampering. While there is nothing inherently problematic with getting massages and pedicures, such behaviors are, at times, quick fixes focused on feeling better in the moment.

Self-care is a commitment to yourself to live, grow, and evolve in healthy ways. It means making choices that will lead to your best self, fulfillment of potential, and finding meaning in life.

Working with a skilled, experienced psychologist, therapist, or counselor can help you learn new skills to better navigate your relationship with self-care. If you are interested in therapy to explore your relationship with yourself and your values, I invite you to call or email me to get started working together. Telehealth appointments are available.


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