Self care has become sort of a buzzword lately, but don’t let its trendiness deter you! Formulating (and sticking to) a self care plan is an important aspect of mental health and can help you lead a more balanced life. Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re sharing our favorite tips for a more balanced and energized self.
What is Self Care?
Despite its recent trendiness and even bastidardation (more on that shortly), self care has roots in ancient Greek philosophy, though it is more commonly associated as a medical concept.
In the early 1900s, it was associated almost exclusively with those suffering from mental illness until doctors and academics used self care methods for high-risk professions in the 1960s and 70s. This included EMTs, therapists, social workers, etc.
Around the same time, it also became a major part of the civil rights and women’s movements—often seen as a political act in and of itself. Audre Lorde famously spoke on the subject: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
It is a huge part of maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It gives us practice in setting boundaries and priorities, and helps us honor our own worth, which, in turn, teaches others how to respect those aspects of us as well. When we take care of ourselves, we “fill our cup” so that we have enough of ourselves to share with others. On the flip side, when we neglect ourselves, there are consequences that may include pain, exhaustion, stress, etc.
But how specifically can self care improve our lives?
The Benefits of Self Care
There is a seemingly endless list of self care benefits, but here are some of our favorites:
What Self Care is NOT
As we discuss self care, it’s important to note what it is not.
Saying no to a night out to rest and recharge is not selfish. In our everyday lives, we are bombarded with family duties, invitations, work obligations and other events that can quickly drain us physically, mentally and emotionally. Self care is reclaiming that time and energy and using it for practices that help us refuel and re-center.
Unfortunately, with the rise of the self care movement, it has been twisted into an excuse to encourage people to buy things they don’t need. Too often is self care confused with “treating yourself” to materialistic goods that bring temporary joy, only to be followed by anxiety over money spent and time lost. Remember that your self care plan should serve your whole self—bank account included.
How to Develop a Self Care Plan
1. Start Small and Simple
The best way to start your self care routine is with small, achievable items. For instance, staying hydrated is an easy way to better your overall health with little effort. Even better, there are plenty of tools available to help you drink more water. Start small and work you way up to a more complex self care plan to help you stick with it (and even look forward to it).
2. Understand Your Individual Needs
Everyone is different, and their self care plans should be as well. Just because a friend swears by kale juice and yoga doesn’t mean it’s necessarily beneficial for you. Think about your goals and the areas of your life you’d like to improve, create a list, and brainstorm actionable items for how you can achieve them.
3. Develop Healthy Habits
One of the goals of self care is to make it a ritual in your everyday life. Your routine should be intentional, giving you energy and balance for a healthier life. Your rituals should not feel forced, and may evolve with time. Listen to your body and mind to see what practices best serve you.
4. Stagger Your Practices
As previously mentioned, the best self care plans become ritualistic, but that doesn’t mean you need to practice every aspect every day. Certain rituals make sense for daily, weekly, monthly, etc. practice, and should feel natural, not forced. Some examples of this include:
- Daily: Create and stick to a skin care regimen, meditate, practice gratitude, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise/move, go outside, laugh
- Weekly: Get an acupuncture treatment, work on personal development/education, build/grow relationships, take a social media break, do something kind for someone, create something, pet an animal
- Monthly: Get a massage, go to therapy, deep clean, get a professional skincare treatment, read a book
- Yearly: Take a vacation, compile a list of goals, reflect on the past year
5. Splurge in Moderation
Being in control of your finances is a great way to practice self care, but sometimes, it’s nice to treat yourself to something you really really want. Maybe it’s a vacation, an expensive addition to your wardrobe or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Whatever it is, there are a few things to keep in mind before splurging.
- Will this thing/experience cause financial stress?
- Does this thing/experience add joy and balance to my life?
- Will I look back on this purchase in a year and be happy with my choice?
If you feel confident with your answers, dwell on it a little more to make sure you’re absolutely confident in your decision. If not, it’s best to focus on the smaller, more attainable aspects of your self care plan.
6. Be Flexible
Life happens, and sometimes it will interfere with your self care plan—and that’s OK! Sticking to a routine makes these practices easier, but your rituals should not cause you stress or anxiety. Self care is all about balance and discovering what best works for you.
Starting Your Self Care Journey
It’s important to understand that self care is a lifetime journey, and begins with the belief that you are worthy of your own health and wellbeing.
At Blue Creek, we focus on the whole you, and practice health from the inside out. We understand that your mental and emotional conditions manifests on the outside, which can lead to pain and emotional imbalances.
A blend of acupuncture and massage therapy can treat the the various factors of psychological and mental health! For example, consider low back back pain. Massage works externally to soften the muscles, alleviate pain, etc. while acupuncture works internally to stop the inflammatory cycle, stop pain and help re-educate the body to not continue to slip into “habits” of muscle memory (pain).
One of our founders, Megan Moon Long, L.Ac., educates her patients on finding the right balance of treatments to tackle the pain/issue in the most efficient and quickest means possible. That is our goal, to get you living your best (highest quality) life each day!
We also weave in skin care (skin health-focused) treatments if any physical issues are present. (And vice versa—acupuncture can internally treat skin issues, from the inside.) For example, is there too much heat or dampness inside the area? This can manifest externally as a rash, acne or eczema?
We offer series packages to encourage you to be consistent—regular bodywork/acupuncture can create so much health and functionality in your life, which greatly improves your overall quality of life. Next time you see us, schedule your next appointment before you walk out the door so you have it in your calendar. Otherwise, life just gets scheduled and we too often forget or re-prioritize and take time for ourselves.
Call us today at (303) 573-7484 to become your healthiest self.