Ever thought to yourself, “I’ve worked hard today, I deserve that piece of a cake?” Maybe you thought that the cake was a reward for a good day at work and would boost your mood. Whatever the case, if the slice of cake you ate would have sufficed to feed 4 people you may be overindulging and not really practicing self-care.
Most of us don’t do enough self-care, and when we do, we tend to go overboard. Finding balance in life can be difficult, especially in this material society where most of us work full time. Stress, sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy habits all contribute to a growing need for self-care.
However, self-care may be as foreign as most other languages and all that is known is that there is an entire section dedicated to it at the bookstore. Despite this, many continue to struggle with self-care and finding that delicate balance between over-doing it and healing oneself.
What is Self-Care?
There are different types of self-care. Medical self-care pertains to your health and often requires health insurance. There are some great online resources for medical self-care information. Staying active, getting regular check-ups with your doctor and avoiding things like nicotine are all a part of medical self-care. Though never fun, preventative tests, procedures, and regular check-ups are all necessary if you are going to live a long, happy, healthy life.
Mental health self-care is another animal altogether, though there may be some cross-over with the medical realm. Coping with stress is a difficult and life-long endeavor, which even the experts at the CDC may have trouble with from time to time. Areas of trouble in mental health may call for medication such as antidepressants.
More often, however, mental health self-care means taking a day off from work once a month to recover and take care of what you need. Day in and day out, things are demanded of us and unless we take the time for ourselves, we run the risk of breaking.
One day out of the month take time to catch up on errands and get a massage, pedicure, or whatever you need. You are taking care of you.
Allowing yourself time to recover from stress and giving yourself a break every now and then is what self-care is all about.
Self-Care Obstacles and Needs
The job, the significant other, the friends who just won’t take no for an answer – these are all common reasons why we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves. Maybe you are prone to watching too much TV and staying sedentary. Whatever the case, these kinds of obstacles block you from living your best life and can absolutely be remedied.
Many people work all week and scramble to catch up on errands and with friends on the weekend. By Monday morning they often feel just as tired as they were on Friday with the whole week ahead of them. This may feel like a situation with no way out, however, you can find ways to balance your life.
Get enough sleep and schedule time with friends on your lunch breaks so that you get that quality time with loved ones. Sleep and connecting with those who matter to us is critical for living a fulfilling existence. We are more than just workers slaving away for a paycheck.
Take a good look at what you eat – are you eating a balanced, nutritious diet full of veggies and unprocessed foods? If your idea of meals centers around a fast-food drive through the answer is no. Our bodies are amazing machines that require the right kind of fuel to function properly. If you need more information on eating better, go to nutrition.gov for more on eating right.
Overindulgence vs. Self-Care
Is eating a piece of cake overindulging? It depends. Are you in a healthy weight range and decently active? If yes, then go for it. However, if every day after work you decide to eat a large piece of cake for a job well done, you are on the side of overindulgence. The same situation is true if you decide to go shopping instead of eating cake to reward yourself.
Too much of any good thing becomes something else that does not positively affect our health or lives. Phrases like work hard, play hard are so ingrained in our minds that we may not really be aware of what we need. Far too many of us also feel ashamed or guilty if we say “no” to our employers or friends when something is asked of us. As a consequence, we often put self-care at the bottom of the list or remove it altogether.
In an attempt to compensate for lack of self-care we then overindulge. For instance, some of us chose to work ourselves to the bone and then eat an unhealthy meal, this cycle only further taxes our already fatigued body.
Overspending is another common attempt at compensating. Instead of reading a good book after a nice bath, we overstimulate ourselves and create financial stress by turning our anxiety towards the shopping mall and stressing our limited resources.
Eating and shopping are certainly not the only areas commonly over or underutilized. Exercise is another big one, as are prescription pills, drinking, and watching Netflix.
The healthy middle looks differently for everyone. Everyone has that friend whose energy seems limitless no matter how much they take on. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses and find where you need to focus your self-care time and energy.
Maybe you need a spa day with a friend or just and nice relaxing bath. If you have not exercised in living memory, maybe you could go on a hike with a friend or join a local exercise studio. Finding friends and support when exercising has been proven to improve the all-around experience.
Whatever you need in life, take it. Don’t apologize and don’t stress or feel guilty for taking care of you. You are important and deserve to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Get started living your best life today.