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Self Care
by Mel June 1st 2010, 05:33 AM

Article featured in Avatar - Volume 3, Issue 10 (April 2010).

Self Care
By Maria (Gidig)

Many of us have heard something about “self care” at least once. While it may seem like we already do a significant amount of self care by sleeping, eating, and even breathing, many people do not take enough time for themselves. Without self care, stress levels are much higher, relationships can be compromised, and depression creeps up. You can even physically feel better when you practice better self care. Why is self care so important, and how do you begin finally taking care of yourself the way you need?

Why does self care help?

If you’ve ever heard of the fight or flight response, self care creates the opposite. This is called the relaxation response. Your body begins to slow down and rejuvenate itself. Meditation creates a similar response, which is why it can be so helpful. As your body begins to slow down, it gets a break so to speak, and will be able to function better when you need it again!

Mentally and emotionally is the main way self care helps people. First, it overall just gives you a break from running around and having so much you need to do at once. It’s not healthy for your mind and body when you don’t stop and take a breath. Self care is the time you can stop and just worry about yourself without being worried about, for example, that soccer practice you need to run to, or how you need to practice your clarinet.

Sometimes, during alone time, people can problem solve, come to conclusions, and take a better grip emotionally on their lives. Having the input of others constantly can be draining, so taking a minute to figure out what YOU think and how YOU feel is important.

If you take time to take a bubble bath, go for a walk, or practice another form of self care, you feel better about yourself. People who practice more self care tend to have a higher self-esteem. It’s important to realize that you’re an important person who needs to be looked after as well.

What can I do for self care? Everyone’s form of self care is different. Some people find relaxation in bubble baths. Other people feel better after going for a jog, or doing a puzzle. It’s easy to figure out what your best options are – just figure out what you enjoy doing and do it!

Bubble baths tend to be the first thing thought of when thinking of self care. They are extremely beneficial. The great thing about baths is that you can go as far out as you want to. Facial masks, nail painting, and other fun activities that can make you feel better go right along with a bubble bath.

Grab some bubbles, soap, a facial mask, nail polish, rubber ducks and other bath toys and have fun! When you take a bubble bath you can feel as though you’re a child again. Play with toys, and splash around! Or if you’re feeling more mature, grab a book and soak up the water.

Candles are great for baths as well; just make sure to be safe and not light anything on fire! Relaxing scents can always help with the relaxation process.

Manicures and pedicures are a fun way to take care of yourself as well, and you even end up with beautiful nails afterwards. You can go into a nail salon and pay for a professional nail job, or go buy your favorite color nail polish and do it yourself. Both are great ways to relax and essentially feel better.

It might be fun to save up a bit of money and then go buy some of the manicure and pedicure tools that many stores carry. Things such as emery boards, nail clippers, cuticle removers, and other utensils are fun to have. There are also many nail treatments available to harden and strengthen nails, make them shiny, or probably do just about anything you’re looking for.

Reading can take you into an entirely different world. Grab a book, some hot chocolate or another beverage you enjoy and sit and read a book. There are multiple types of books and it may take a while to figure out what kinds of books you enjoy, but eventually you will find a genre that catches your interest!

Make sure not to get a book that is too hard to read, or it will take away the relaxing part of reading books. It’s not relaxing to sit down with a book, a dictionary, and a translator just to read one story.

Ask friends if they have books they recommend and would let you borrow. You can also get books at used book stores fairly cheap, and sometimes you can find great deals online! Or you can go to always go to the library! Reading is a good, cheap, effective self care method.

Taking a walk is really helpful because it gives you a break mentally, but gives your body a moment to move. Movement for some people can be extremely relaxing. Especially when you run for a long time, you get an endorphin rush which is an amazing stress reliever.

This can be cheap as well! You can walk around your neighborhood easily. If your neighborhood is unsafe you can walk around another neighborhood, or even just walk around the track at school. Gyms usually have tracks you can walk or run around as well.

Sports are similar to taking a walk. Your body enjoys moving, and exercise is good physically and as self care. If you’ve ever considered a sport, give it a try! The only problem with sports is some people reach what many athletes refer to as "burnout," but usually doesn't happen for many years into the activity for most, and others still will never experience burnout. If you do reach this point, however, and you’re feeling stressed out from sports, then it obviously doesn’t count as self care.

You can join a team, or even just get some friends to walk to the park and shoot some hoops. This is another thing that can cost as little or as much as you want.

Happy self care!
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