BY KATHERINE HURST
Self-care is a popular topic these days, but it is often poorly explained. Perhaps you keep seeing it mentioned in self-help books or magazine articles and yet don’t have a clear sense of how you’re supposed to add it to your life. It may seem wishy-washy or vague to you. Alternatively, maybe you aren’t convinced that you should practice regular self-care. Maybe you think your resources are better saved for working and for looking after others.
So, what is self-care, and why is it so important? As it turns out, there are many different self-care practices, and not all of them suit everyone. This guide will take you through the reasons why you need at least some sort of self-care in your routine, and will help you understand the specific changes you need to make.
What Is Self-Care? The Definition Of Self CareSelf-care is a broad term that encompasses just about anything you to do be good to yourself. In a nutshell, it’s about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others. It’s partly about knowing when your resources are running low, and stepping back to replenish them rather than letting them all drain away.
Meanwhile, it also involves integrating self-compassion into your life in a way that helps to prevent even the possibility of a burnout.
However, it’s important to note that not everything that feels good is self-care. We can all be tempted to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and risk-taking. These self-destructive activities help us to regulate challenging emotions, but the relief is temporary.
The difference between unhealthy coping mechanisms and self-care activities is that the latter is uncontroversially good for you. When practiced correctly, self-care has long-term benefit for the mind, the body, or both.
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We'll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don't we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don't have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.