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The New Self-Care

What images come to mind when you hear the word self-care? A bubble bath with scented candles, a shopping spree, practicing some yoga, or perhaps treating yourself to that delicious-looking cupcake in the bakery window. The idea of self-care has been glamorized on social media as indulgence or treating yourself to a variety of services or products. While there is nothing wrong with a little retail therapy or exercise, there is a side of self-care rarely discussed or promoted because it can be difficult to glamorize or even talk about. We’ll be exploring several ways to indulge in self-care that tap into our raw human needs.

Crying

There are many functions to crying; gaining attention or support from others, signaling distress to loved ones, and releasing pent-up energy. While there is no conclusive research about how exactly crying makes you feel better, whether it’s a release of hormones or more of a placebo effect, there have been many surveys in which the majority of people reported feeling better after crying.

Allowing ourselves to cry can sometimes be difficult. It may make us feel weak or guilty for indulging in such an overt display of distress. These feelings of weakness usually stem from social pressures that tell us not to feel so strongly. They may also come from messages we received growing up from our guardians or the media that shame people who cry. We are taught to be strong and push these feelings down; not express them.

An important component of self-care is allowing yourself to feel your emotions, which will often include crying. Crying offers a release of tension from all of those little problems, or maybe that one big problem, that is often necessary for us to move on. While crying will not solve what currently ails us, it helps us process and express the emotions tied to it. So load up a sad movie on your favorite streaming service and ugly cry your heart out.

Being selfish

We are taught that the word ‘selfish’ is negative. When we refer to someone as selfish, it is usually meant to be an insult. How dare this person value their personal well-being over someone else’s? What if I told you being selfish was a good thing, especially when it comes to indulging in self-care.

It’s hard enough to cope when you are going through something upsetting, such as a loss, a depressive episode or even just a bad day. When we value other people over our own well-being we are not practicing good self-care; we are saying other people are more important than us. Recall on airplanes how they instruct us that in case of an emergency, we must first secure our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

To practice the new self-care you must ask yourself a very important question, “what do I need?”. The answer may not come easy, but it is important to focus on your needs before others. The question can be short-term or long-term. “What do I need in this moment” or perhaps “What do I need in the long term?”.

Basic biological needs

The deglamorization of self-care includes talking about the more boring aspects of caring for one’s mental health. Drinking enough water isn’t nearly as exciting as treating yourself to the hot new froyo joint, but froyo is not nearly as essential to healthy brain functioning as water. The exercise you do doesn’t have to be trendy or public, it can be as simple as doing some light stretches in the comfort of your home. Eating right doesn’t have to consist of that zesty raspberry farm-to-table non-GMO quinoa salad, as long as you are getting some fruits and vegetables in between big macs.

The bottom line is that our physical health does have an impact on our mental health. You don’t have to stick to a strict regimen and diet, but you do need to make sure you are meeting your biological needs. Our nutritional and exercise needs vary greatly, so the best way to ensure you are meeting these needs is to check with your primary care physician.

If you would like some guidance with developing your own self-care plan, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.

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