Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
As Buddha famously put it, you are worthy of your own love. In a world where we are constantly connected, it’s hard to really feel alone—even when you’re the only person in a room.
But self-care, or “me” time, should be at the top of your list for a number of reasons. It’s really the first step to giving your mind and body the attention and love it truly needs to be healthy.
In a technologically advanced world, we are always connected, and responses are immediately expected. More and more, studies are finding links between social media and depression. Research showed the more time someone spent on social media, the more likely they were to be depressed.
And on top of seeking approval and acceptance on social media, we also need to factor in our general cell phone usage, especially when the average person:
- Send 85+ texts a day
- Spends an accumulation of over 5 years of their life on social media
- Uses their cell phones for 3 hours and 35 minutes a day
When you take a closer look at your day-to-day activities, you may find that alone time is rare. Here are some ways to focus more on you, so you’re better able to attend to those around you.
If you have the TV on, turn it off. If your cell phone is within reach, move it to another room. Find a quiet place where you feel at peace, either in your home or somewhere else. Close your eyes, sit in silence, and focus on your breathing. The purpose of meditation is to clear your mind to focus on the present moment.
Maintain your meditative state for 2 to 3 minutes to start, and then slowly increase your time each day.
On top of feeling more at peace, there are quite a few potential health benefits linked to meditating for just 15 to 20 minutes a day, including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Better sleep
- Reduced memory loss
- Less anxiety and stress
If you’d like to take your meditating to the next level, there are all sorts of meditation guides on the internet.
Set aside dedicated time each day where you turn off your cell phone, laptop, iPad, smart watch… whatever device it may be, don’t check it for 30 minutes and focus on you. Do something you enjoy without interruption, whether it’s reading a book, scrapbooking, or immersing yourself in nature. Take time for those joyful hobbies that so often fall by the wayside when life gets busy.
Life is happening right in front of you, but sometimes we’re so focused on our devices that we don’t notice it. Unplugging for just a few minutes every day will help you get back to really living and feeling more fulfilled.
Have Grown-Up Time
Up to 36% of parents experience burnout, which means they feel exhausted, less productive, and emotionally withdrawn. Sound familiar?
If you’re a parent, it may feel impossible to get even 10 minutes to yourself. Your tiny human(s) depend on you practically 24/7. But call up Grammy or hire a babysitter to watch the kids for a calm and relaxing night out. Go by yourself, or have a date night with your significant other. Do something restorative, even if it means using that time to catch up on some sleep.
Parents need breaks. In fact, giving yourself some alone time will help you be a better parent. You want to give your children your all… to be loving and patient. So set yourself up for success, and don’t let yourself get so burnt out that you feel withdrawn from your children or overwhelmed by exhaustion.
Active people are generally happier and more satisfied with their lives. And that’s not just an assumption… there’s science behind it. Exercising increases endorphins and other “feel-good” chemicals in your brain which helps to decrease the levels of stress hormones and adrenaline. Like meditation, exercise can also lessen the symptoms associated with anxiety and can improve your overall brain function.
Not a fan of exercising? Listening to upbeat music while you work out can reenergize you to power through your routine. According to researchers at the University of Vermont, just 20 minutes of exercise can boost your mood for up to 12 hours. So crank up the tunes and get in some healthy “you” time. Your brain will thank you.
This is one of my personal favorites. For me, writing is a form of expression. Whenever I’m in need of some alone time to reflect on my day or emotions, I almost always turn to writing. So dig through your dusty high school books and pull out that journal covered in doodles of your old crush’s name. Write down your thoughts and use that time to reflect.
Another habit I’ve started is writing down three things I’m thankful for each day. This helps me recognize the good things happening in my life and puts everything into perspective, especially when I may be having a bad day. It centers my thoughts on something positive, because negativity is naturally something we, as humans, have to work to overcome.
Go shopping. Spend the day at the spa. Have dinner at your favorite sports bar and watch a game. Go to a movie. Do something you really enjoy, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Everyone deserves to do something special every now and then. Take your self-love to the next level and spend a little extra time, attention, and dollars on the things that bring you joy. Sure, money can’t buy happiness. But everyone deserves to be pampered, even if it’s a temporary sense of satisfaction.
Having mini retreats here and there can help you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on whatever challenges linger around the bend.
Dig out your paint brushes. Mix together some colors. And throw something on a canvas. From painting and drawing to photography and pottery, the opportunities to creatively express yourself are limitless.
Considering 75% of people don’t believe they’re living up to their full creative potential, it’s important to find ways to fill this void—especially if you aren’t getting it at work.
Plus, art can be therapeutic and even healing. Through art, people are able to find relief from overwhelming emotions, and can even find a sense of well-being that enriches their daily lives through expression.
Whatever it is, do it for you
Whatever your interest, set aside just a couple minutes each day to do it. Don’t rob yourself of the things in this life that can truly bring you joy. So with that, I’ll leave you with one more enlightening quote from Buddha:
What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now. – Buddha