What is Self-Care, and Why Do You Need It?

A young mother of two children recently reached out to a therapist about an awkward problem she had been experiencing. Her husband’s desire for intimacy had spiked, while her desire had almost fizzled out completely. She hoped the therapist would offer a multitude of tips on how to reignite her appetite for sex. The therapist offered her one life-changing piece of advice. Use one hour of the day to do something solely for yourself. Essentially, the therapist recommended self-care.

What is Self-Care?
Self-care simply refers to the things we do to address our individual mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. For some it means taking time to quietly read an interesting book. Others may use journaling to sort through their daily experiences and emotions. Many people diligently incorporate some form of exercise into their daily routine. Although forms of self-care vary by individual interests, the objective is universal. Individuals must take care of their personal needs if they want to make positive contributions to the world around them. However, as simple and logical as the idea may seem, it is often the most neglected aspect of personal health. Perhaps this is driven by the misconception that self-care and selfishness are synonymous.

Why is Self-Care Important?
Having a proper perspective of self-care will help us prioritize it in our lives. Lack of self-care contributes to depression and heightens anxiety. These mental states hinder productivity. We need to think of ourselves as batteries. A battery cannot adequately perform its job without regular recharging. In the same manner, we need regular periods of rest and relaxation to ensure that we can have the most meaningful impact in our workplace and in the lives of others. For this reason, it is important to select activities that are enjoyable instead of activities that feel compulsory. In the article What Self-Care Is – and What It Isn’t, Raphailia Michael, a licensed counseling psychologist, suggests implementing a self-care routine for 15 days while actively monitoring your feelings throughout the process. Use these insights to adjust self-care activities accordingly.

The therapist mentioned in the introduction summed up her advice to the young mother in this statement, “If Mama doesn’t get her Happy Hour, then Dad and everyone else don’t get theirs either.” This rule applies to everyone. We will not have anything left to give others if we fail to take time for ourselves.

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