Self care is a trendy topic, with articles suggesting that nightly baths and weekly pedicures might be the road to a more balanced life. While a little pampering can go a long way in alleviating stress, it’s just the tip of the iceberg when we examine real self care strategies.
In our work as therapists at Center for Shared Insight, PC, we take self care to the next level and help clients understand the deeper ways they feel nurtured and rejuvenated, and encourage regular self care rituals that go beyond pampering. Here are three long-term self care strategies that will help you show up as your best self more regularly in your life.
Know Your Rejuvenation Style
You are probably aware of whether you tend to be an introvert or extrovert. If not, here is an online test to find out. This character trait provides insight not only into your social preferences, but also into the ways in which you replenish your energy. Introverts are more likely to need quiet, downtime alone to “fill their buckets” and re-energize to show up again for the people in their lives. Introverts therefore are more likely to want to take a walk or run alone after work, or read a book to refuel. On the other hand, extroverts might enjoy a happy hour, long phone call with a friend, or attending a sporting event to unwind after work. If being around people is energizing after a long day, know and honor your unique rejuvenation style.
Poor boundaries are a root cause of burnout and unhappiness. Healthy, clear boundaries and learning to say “no” are important steps to better self care. So often, the obligation to attend every gathering you are invited to, or say “yes” to every work project presented to you can lead to a sense of depletion. Being overcommitted means there is less time for the rituals in your life that have the potential to leave you feeling refreshed and balanced – including exercise, healthy eating, and enough sleep.
The first step in developing good boundaries is understanding your priorities, learning what makes you feel rejuvenated, and getting clear about your personal limits. For instance, maybe you determine that if you commit to just one social event during the week that you have enough time to exercise, run errands, and spend time relaxing but if you go out two nights during the week, you quickly feel overwhelmed and out of balance. Work to understand and define your priorities in order to develop healthy boundaries in both your personal and professional life.
A new consideration related to self care is digital media intake and limitations. While this is something discussed often related to kids, adults too suffer from the effects of a 24/7 digitally connected world. The long-term negative effects of digital media, including consistent texting, social media, and nonstop web surfing, are becoming more clear as this form of connection infiltrates every part of life. Digital connection is addictive, and a recent Forbes article suggests that it brings up feelings of inadequacy, sadness, and jealousy. While many people assume that social media will make them feel better, the same Forbes article cites that studies suggest that just the opposite occurs.
Adults too need time to unplug, and setting digital media boundaries, as well as committing to social media breaks, is essential to mental health and happiness. Being more aware of how an hour reviewing your Facebook feed, online shopping, or a text marathon makes you feel is key to setting limitations for yourself. There is no substitution for showing up in the world in a truly social and engaged way, rather than digitally. Make time to connect face to face with the ones you care about.
Making self-care part of your regular routine each day is a good step to feeling consistently refreshed. So often we wait to develop self-care strategies at the point of burn out rather than being proactive in taking time for self. Start by choosing certain times of the day to spend time with yourself or to connect with others (such as with a phone call). Maybe this means reading a novel in the early evening a few times a week, meditating when you wake up, or setting aside time to call a friend every Wednesday after dinner. Establish patterns and habits in order to make rituals stick.
The team at Center for Shared Insight reminds clients regularly about the importance of self care and holds them accountable for their commitments around healthy boundaries. In taking better care of self, you too can take better care of all those in your life. If you are seeking a better balance between giving to others and yourself, contact our team of therapists to learn more about how we support long-term self care success. Make self-care a ritual today.