Why taking care of yourself is important + 8 tips for self-care

Give priority to yourself and meet life's challenges with a smile

Woman savouring a cup of tea as a self-care ritual
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Do we seriously need to mollycoddle ourselves to feel recharged? Yes we do.

Our mothers did that too, in their own unique way. They did needlework to relax, they tried out new recipes because they loved to. They had fun in their own way. They always knew the art of self-nurture and it came to them naturally, despite their responsibilities.

Our stressful lives leave little scope for us to enjoy. We seem to be constantly chasing targets, and trying to achieve. Whether men or women, we are typically our lowest priority when should give as much importance to ourselves as to others.

Give yourself priority

Self-renewal is essential for our well-being. In life, being super-busy and super-organised is as ineffective as being disorganised and idle. Balance is ideal – work with play, giving with receiving. It is balance that blocks the road to a burnout and opens the gates to better performance. If one has to achieve balance in life, there is no alternative to self-nurture. Explains psychologist Alice Domar, author of the best-seller Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself as Effectively as You Care for Everyone Else, “Self nurture means to care for yourself and put yourself amongst your own list of priorities… Because balancing work and family is so hard, when we juggle them, we leave ourselves last which takes a huge toll on our mental and physical health.”

Getting in touch with ourselves is a key contributor to self-nurture. Psychologists suggest that to reconnect with our own self, we need to peel away the layers of what the world expects us to do, and do what we really would like to do for ourselves – even if just for a little while.

8 idea for self-care

1. Understand your body

Ask yourself these questions. Do you have any aches and pains that you have tried to ignore for long? Are there any changes in your food pattern? Are you drinking more alcohol or coffee lately? Are you eating or sleeping more than usual, or less? Are you watching more TV to numb yourself to sleep? Sometimes, we start on an unhealthy lifestyle without realising it.

2. Observe your mental or emotional changes

Check if you have started using coping methods like withdrawal, postponing action, emotional outbursts or over-controlling. Being aware of these things can help you choose ways to nurture yourself. By looking closely at how you have started dealing with life, how you respond physiologically and emotionally to the day, you begin to get a clear picture of what works for you and what doesn’t.

3. Check need for supplements

Your physical exhaustion and fatigue could mean that you need to consult your doctor to increase your daily vitamin intake. The right supplements and an altered diet would help you feel energetic.

4. Be physically active

Psychiatrists and stress management consultants often suggest an exercise routine at least four times a week. This helps reduce depression, boredom and lack of energy and enthusiasm. A short walk is an effective and healthy alternative to stress-relief medicines.

5. Listen to soothing music

Music has vibrations which affect our heartbeat, blood flow and brain waves. Any music that helps you breathe slower and deeper, relaxes you. Dr Steven Halpern, music researcher and author of Tuning the Human Instrument and Sound Health, has found that the best relaxation is achieved with the sound of a flute, harp or a piano.

6. Have a tranquil bath

Bath can be a natural sedative or stimulator. Bath additives can enhance the soothing quality of a warm bath. Chamomile and lavender are particularly calming. Apple cidar vinegar, epsom salts can be directly added to bath water. Giving yourself an oil massage — at least on a holiday — before a warm bath can be rejuvenating. We don’t need expensive spas every day.

7. Savour a cup of tea

Sometimes a “me-time” opportunity can come in the form of a hot cup of tea. Sitting back, holding the warm cup in your hand and feeling the steam rise can be very soothing. Indulging in chamomile, basil, jasmine, mint or lemon flavoured tea can be very invigorating.

8. Have a stroll in nature

Nature can be the greatest tranquiliser of the world. Half an hour in the local park works very well. Watching the sea, seeing the clouds roll by, looking at the rains, all can help us unhook our minds and let go of the day’s problems.

Self-care is honouring your contribution to everyone else’s life. Give yourself the gift of value, starting today.

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Gayatri Pagdi
Gayatri Pagdi is a Mumbai-based health journalist. Her areas of interest include emotional, mental and spiritual health.


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