Your strength, intelligence, and overall mental and physical capacity relies on a specific set of needs that will allow you to be your best. Without addressing these needs, many aspects of your life and even your finer qualities can suffer. We call the ongoing process of learning more about personal needs in an effort to better ourselves “self-care” –– sometimes called “self-love.”
While someone whose sole purpose in life is to seek self-satisfaction and cater to personal whims and desires can be labeled selfish, this is not the same as self-care. Self-care is actually an important part of what allows an individual to be a better support and provide for those around them.
Self-care is essential for physical well-being and smooth mental function. When physical and mental health is not properly balanced and nurtured, professional efforts, academic pursuits, and relationships will suffer. This is because self-care cultivates a strong relationship with yourself and this is where true confidence and self-worth must be founded. After all, friends and family may sometimes disappoint you, but you have to be able to count on yourself.
Building this good relationship with yourself is both fun and incrementally more satisfying as the process continues. As you learn more about yourself, you will learn how small efforts to improve your mental and physical functions can be enhanced. Furthermore, learning what you need to be your best, will also show you what things you do not need, which can be a liberating experience which saves you time, money, and mental resources.
Following are a few great ways to begin your journey of self-care:
1. Accept the Mystery of Life
It can be disheartening to see the great challenges and riddles of life and feel completely inadequate in our capacity to understand let alone face them. But, the truth is that many of these challenges and riddles are products of our own over-active problem-solving minds. Over-thinking leads to more overthinking and this can get depressing and exhausting after a while.
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Applying self-care here will be simply accepting that there are things you can change and things you can’t. Giving your mind a rest is one of the things you can change and it will keep your emotions and moods stable and boost positivity. Then, learn to take things as they come trusting that all of the answers you need are well within your capacity.1
2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
It is hard not to get sucked into the vortex of comparing yourself with others and the consequences are severe. Comparing your situation or conditions with other’s wastes your time and distracts you from the direction you really want to take in your life. Sometimes it does help to use others as a guide point for forming your goals. But, never forget, they are a product of their own life and your results and the final product will be something else entirely. Being intuitive to your personal progress and results will allow you to be the best version of yourself.2
3. Create Joyful Rituals
A good relationship is not about the herculean efforts and monumental achievements as much as it is about the small details. Small rituals that bring you joy and pleasure are like the shock absorbers that make riding through life’s rough road very smooth and comfy. In the future, as your life changes this way and that, these rituals will keep you anchored and make anyplace feel like “home.”
Make rituals fun and easy like yoga, a foot soak, or walk out in the twilight by keeping them as regular and intentional as possible. Your mind will make a greater connection with what you are doing. Furthermore, you can maximize the experience by introducing your favorite essential oils to the equation. Essential oils connect with the body and brain in a number of significant ways and can be used to evoke a variety of pleasurable feelings or states of mind.3
4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Making a habit of taking yourself outside your comfort zone challenges your boundaries and dares you to take a stand for your dreams and life goals. You can spend your entire life giving yourself really good reasons why it’s too late to chase your dreams, too expensive to take an Italian cooking class, or too dangerous to skydive.
But in the end, you will be left with a great big heap of excuses and nothing else to show for it. Self-care encourages you to take a risk for yourself and face your fears. The odds are always in your favor anyway–– even if you fall flat on your face, at least you tried and no one will take that from you.
5. Cultivate Your Social Health
Your social relations nourish your mind and physical health so take time to love and cherish the friends and family you have. Those people who have stood beside you when you were low and have shared good times with you are a priceless treasure. In addition to closer relations, working to improve the quality of your less intimate relations is also important in maintaining a good level of social health which directly contributes to mental and physical health.4
6. Exercise Regularly
Getting regular exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy body, but regular exercise does more than that. Through regularly engaging the muscles and increasing the heart rate, the body releases feel-good brain chemicals that increase levels of satisfaction and elation.
Increasing physical capacity in any number of exercises and sports is also a great way to improve self-esteem. As an investment in self-care, regular exercise comes with some of the best returns.5
7. Live Healthily
Addressing the health levels of yourself and your environment creates a better world to live in and optimal way to experience it. Start with yourself by changing a few habits at a time like drinking more water, practicing yoga, or including more raw vegetables in your diet. By developing a better connection with your environment, you will be able to cultivate better health within.
8. Guard Yourself Against Negativity
Negativity is a pervasive force that can come from anywhere just to shoot down our mood and leave us feeling down. It is insidious too, sometimes it comes in the form of a favorite show, music band, or even a good friend who simply has a tendency to be negative. There will always be elements in your environment that can drag you down, but you must not let that happen. Building your resilience to negativity will allow you to keep your negative friend and listen to your negative music without falling into negative mind-frames yourself.
Of course, there are those elements in your life that are completely negative. People who bring you down intentionally, make you the target of their frustrations, and make you responsible for their issues are doing you damage. It would be best to keep these relations in check. Feel free to send them as much positivity and goodwill as you can, but don’t allow yourself to be the target for their negativity.
Final Notes on Cultivating Self-Care
Once you have gotten the ball rolling, the process of cultivating self-care is the most natural thing in the world. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Applying this special insight into nurturing your health and strengthening your life is the path to achieving your full potential. Like any good friendship there will be ups and downs, but remain true to yourself and you will have made a friend for life.
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