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The Basics of Self-Care

We hear the phrase self-care pretty regularly, but it is often used interchangeably with indulging yourself. Although indulgence may be an aspect of self-care, it should not be used as the full scope.

Self-care activities are those that promote a balanced sense of physical and mental wellness. These wellness domains can be impacted by your emotional, social, spiritual/religious and physical practices.

Self-care is important because it is necessary to dedicate time to enhance your mental and physical wellness. Self-care allows you to focus on your internal and external peace and create alignment between the two. Self-care can take many forms; it is most important to recognize that self-care activities exist on a spectrum of simple to more nuanced activities that may not be as easy to execute.

Simple self-care techniques include:

1. Mindful eating/drinking- This is important because as simple as it is to eat or drink, we often overlook the importance of how we are nourishing our bodies and depending on our schedules we may not prioritize our meals. Food is the fuel for our bodies, so we want to make sure that we are inputting quality fuel to maximize our health.

2. Rest- Physically and mentally allowing ourselves rest is important. As we navigate our routine, we can find ourselves running on empty, so it is crucial to take intentional time to give our bodies and mind time to rejuvinate.

3. Organize- There is a connection between our physical environment and our mental environment. If you find your room to be cluttered or your space to be messy it can create a sense of internal chaos. By cleaning and organizing, you are reducing the chaos and it gives you a sense of accomplishment.

4. Create- Allowing yourself to tap into any forms of creativity (whether that is writing, painting/drawing, photography, sewing, etc.) gives you an escape to channel your energy. This becomes a very healthy way to expend energy, manage/reduce stress and gives you something to look forward to which is important to incorporate within your routine.

5. Meditate- This is important to calm your inner thoughts and center yourself. Meditation can be extremely helpful to those experiencing anxious thoughts, over-analyzing, or feeling overwhelmed.

Interpersonal self-care techniques include:

1. Enforcing boundaries with those around you- It is very important to enforce boundaries as a form of self care because otherwise you may overexert yourself to please others and as a result feel depleted. It is important to identify ways to assert yourself and practice saying without hesitation or guilt.

2. Creating Balance- Establishing a balance in your routine is important so that you are dividing your attention to your varying obligations; especially in terms of work, home, and extracurricular. If you notice that your schedule is heavily revolved around work, leaving very little room for time spent with friends/family or time engaging in a hobby, this can lead to feeling burnt out and exhausted.

3. Mindful thinking- this really means paying attention to your thoughts and noticing the patterns of negative thinking. We often have automatic negative thoughts that echo in our brains without us even realizing it, but they leave an impact. Our thoughts affect our feelings which affect our behaviors which then reinforce the negative thoughts. So, it is important to be thoughtful with ourselves and that means noticing and challenging negative thoughts or self-criticisms.

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