Self-care has become a popular buzzword on television and in other media outlets and personal development circles. It might not be 100% clear what it means, however.

The concept is more than just "taking care of yourself" - it goes much deeper. Self-care as I define it has multiple components - Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual - all of which help to support and strength us as perfectly imperfect human beings.

Read on to learn more about self-care, why it matters, and how you can start doing it to help you transition into the new year and into a new phase of your life.

What About Self-Care?

Self-care includes nurturing your body (the physical you), your mind (emotions and mental capacity), and your spiritual side.

The focus on self-care is on building yourself up so that your internal resources don't become too depleted. You've heard the phrase "You can't pour from an empty cup" - if you aren't taking care of yourself, you'll have nothing left to help or support anyone else.

Designing and implementing an effective self-care routine means that you show yourself as much or more compassion than you show others, and that you are also willing to be vulnerable with others and ask for help when you need it.

What self-care isn't, on the other hand, is using self-destructive, negative coping mechanisms like using illegal drugs, drinking to excess, uncontrolled gambling, or overindulgent shopping (sometimes called "retail therapy"). Those activities and substances only help you feel better in the short-term, and they leave you with consequences that can build up over time to a critical level.

Recognizing the Benefits of Self-Care

Practicing self-care on a consistent basis provides many positive benefits, but if you've always put more emphasis on the welfare of others, you may have a tough time embracing the concept.

Giving away all your energy and effort to those around you will leave you with an empty tank and depleted energy, feeling empty instead of energized.

That's no way to live, and it doesn't encourage making yourself a priority. Intentionally taking (and making) time to indulge in your own interest demonstrates your own worth as a human being. Knowing your worth is an important foundation for healthy self-esteem and a better outlook on the world.

You can learn a lot about yourself when you make yourself a priority, and you'll also gain insight into what you need to become the best version of yourself. 

Self-care helps you to handle the stresses of your job or business and your daily activities, and to prioritize what's important to you. Consistent self-care empowers you to take better care of others as you also take time to meet your own unique needs.

Self-Care Examples and Inspiration

There are numerous ways to add self-care into your daily routine - the examples below can inspire you to think of other ways that will fit into your life and schedule. Don't put it off - start TODAY to create a consistent and effective self-care routine that works for YOU.

Key #1: Choose activities that are enjoyable to you, and that provide you with the most benefits for the time you spend doing them.

Key #2: Enjoy the outdoors? Try going to a nearby park or nature center and walking the grounds. This can be done in any season - make sure to dress for the weather and include comfortable footwear.

Key #3: Love to move it, move it? Exercise is a fantastic way to incorporate self-care into your day. Whether you enjoy yoga, running or physical training at your local gym, it's worth it for your physical and mental well-being to carve out time in your schedule for it. Regular exercise not only strengthens your body, it provides stress relief, and a sense of accomplishment and pride when you're done.

Key #4: Spending time with friends can be wonderful - encouraging you to enjoy different activities and interact with others, but just as important is being able to say NO to outings when you need a break. Empowering yourself to turn down invitations or favors when you really don't have time or energy for them is a foundational part of caring for yourself.

Key #5: Treating yourself to an occasional favorite indulgence like going to the movies, getting a manicure or massage, or visiting your local ice cream parlor are splendid examples. Another indulgence? A luxurious hot bath at home, followed by a meditation session to help clear your mind of the day's concerns and worries. Follow this up with a journaling session to get your emotions down on paper and set the stage for a good night's rest.

These are just a few ways that you can easily and consistently incorporate intentional self-care into your life, and they don't have to break the budget, preventing financial stress from throwing a monkey wrench into the works. 

Now you've got a great foundation into what self-care is and why it's so important. You've also got a group of possibilities and ideas on how to get started incorporating this valuable practice into your life. 

Self-Care and Wellness Journal Prompts

Choose one or more of the prompts below to inspire today's journal entry. Writing about your thoughts, emotions, and the activities of your day in a journal is a powerful way to reinforce concepts you want to incorporate into your life. 

You can use blank paper and simply write or record your thoughts in a simple notebook. By the end of this course, you'll have made a good start toward developing a journaling habit that can encourage your self-development for the rest of your life.

Prompt 1: What activities will I add to my life to show love and respect for my body? How soon can I start my chosen activity?

Prompt 2: How can I prioritize rest and recovery for my body when I need it?

Prompt 3: How can I use my mind and body together to create harmony and strengthen my self-care?

About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels empowers women 35+ to create their Best Life with the Power of Affirmations & Journaling. You can learn how to use proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is a Unitarian Universalist Minister and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family), and proudly serves her community as a Registrar of Voters.

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