Self-care has become a buzzword that is often used but also often misunderstood. Some cling to the word as a means to find balance in life and others dismiss the words as a glorified ego boost. Before self-care was a common word, I discovered its power in my life. It was mainly out of survival that I found its value, but emotional self-care has transformed me as a whole person.
There was a time when life was so stressful that I’d equate my home life to living in the Emergency Room. Brian, my youngest son, was having 63 seizures a day so we were constantly in and out of the ER. The transition from place to place felt very similar. The overall feeling was intense stress. I’d often have to resuscitate him, which was terrifying after severe seizures, and I would call the paramedics if his seizures lasted more than the protocol given to me by the neurologist.
This was the norm at that time. I still had one beautiful child at home who had needs. She would get hungry, want to go play with her friends, go out to the park, and want my attention as well. I quickly needed to adapt to being there for each child and finding a way to give back to myself.
I did not know how long I was going to be in a state of emergency. It did not matter. What mattered was finding the best way to survive through intense stress. It felt like every moment in life had more value than I’d ever imagined. I quickly worked hard at finding ways to destress, be present, and give back where I needed to.
All of the seven steps below became the constructs of how I was able to maintain a healthy state of mind and being. Nutrition and exercise are vital too, but without my mental health, I was not able to efficiently eat well and move my body. Every other priority, friend, and family member became secondary.
Taking the time for emotional self-care can help reduce stress levels, build resilience, improve communication skills, foster healthier relationships, and increase overall satisfaction with life.
There are eight commonly accepted forms of self-care: physical, intellectual, spiritual, social, occupational, financial, environmental, and emotional. I have found self-care to be most powerful when it addresses the whole person, emotionally, physically, and mentally. While I believe in holistic care, there are some forms of self-care that are focused on emotional wellness.
Emotional self-care is an important aspect of overall well-being. It involves being mindful and taking time to practice self-care activities, such as journaling, meditation, or yoga, that allow you to check in with your emotions and maintain a healthy balance. Additionally, it involves setting boundaries and knowing when to say “no” so that you can prioritize personal health and well-being. Taking the time for emotional self-care can help reduce stress levels, build resilience, improve communication skills, foster healthier relationships, and increase overall satisfaction with life. Emotional self-care is an essential tool for managing feelings of anxiety, depression, or overwhelm; it helps us become more aware of our own needs so that we can take better care of ourselves. Setting aside some time to practice emotional self-care and investing in your well-being is worth every minute.
Practicing emotional self-care can be simple and requires small changes in daily habits. I have always found that small, consistent changes make the greatest impact. It is important to take moments for yourself every day, even if just a few minutes. Here are some ways that I have found that have worked for me to practice emotional self-care:
- Make time for relaxation – Whether it’s through yoga, meditation, or simply taking a walk in nature, make sure that you dedicate a portion of your day to relaxation and reflection. When I had young children at home, I found small moments to implement moments of relaxation. Sometimes it was a bath, or a five-minute skin care regimen before bed. Sometimes it was simply sipping a warm cup of tea at bedtime. Utilize small moments and windows of time to implement relaxation if you can’t dedicate a chunk of time to it. It all makes a difference!
- Set boundaries – Learning how to say “no” when needed and creating healthy relationships with people who respect your boundaries is an important part of emotional self-care. This might be one of the most difficult pieces of advice, but one that makes a huge difference in your emotional wellness. Because boundaries were crossed in all sorts of ways as a child, this is a skill that I only learned out of necessity but really refined through therapy. As relational beings, setting healthy boundaries is essential for healthy relationships.
- Self-compassion – Treating yourself with kindness and understanding goes a long way toward emotional self-care. I struggled for years to forgive myself and show myself grace. It is true that we can be our own best critic. Self-compassion is a form of self-love. We need to love ourselves well so that we can love others well.
- Connect with nature – Taking a break from technology to go outside can help you to connect with nature, clear your mind, and connect to your emotions. Better yet, make being in nature the default. There is nothing that recharges your emotions like being in nature. Grounding is an effective way to reap the benefits of being outside and connecting with nature.
- Talk it out – Talking to friends or family about problems that are causing stress can be helpful in managing emotions and processing feelings. Don’t forget therapy for those issues that you really need deep work on. To be honest, I have utilized therapy for big and small work. My husband jokes that I’d take the dog to therapy if I could! My motto is “Why try and tackle issues alone?”
- Get enough sleep – Quality sleep is essential for both physical and emotional well-being, so make sure you get the recommended amount each night! Listen to your body to get what is optimal for you. While eight hours is the golden rule, your body may need more on any given night due to many reasons, so be sure to tune in to how you feel when you wake up.
- Make time for hobbies – Whether it’s painting, reading, or taking up a new hobby, doing something that brings you joy is essential for emotional self-care. Scrolling on social media can quickly take over free time, but try and avoid picking up your phone when you have free time and schedule in time for things that are life-giving to you.
By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can take steps towards caring for yourself emotionally. Remember, emotional self-care is important – make sure to prioritize it in your life!
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