Within the latter end of 2018, “self care” was a phrase toted around everywhere—and we mean everywhere. According to a survey conducted by BodyNutrition.org, a large portion of their 500 respondents — about 30 percent, in fact — are interested in taking time for self care, meditation, and mindfulness in their daily lifestyle.
So, what exactly is self-care? According to Lucas Saiter, Associate Psychotherapist at NYC Therapy + Wellness, it’s anything you want it to be.
“The word ‘unwind’ is one way of understanding what self-care is, but, self-care is really what you want it to be,” says Saiter. ”What self-care means for some, might mean something different for others. So, the important first step to understanding this term is to think about what you could do to take care of yourself. What works for you? Some people meditate, read, or exercise, others might write, go to therapy, or take walk in the park. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, try doing it in a fully present state. If you’re walking in the park, just walk and enjoy your surroundings. If you’re reading, just read and turn off the television or anything that might be distracting. Be mindful of your self-care technique, so that you can properly recharge your battery that gets you through the week.”
Need a little refresher? Here are some other expert tactics to take for a spin in 2019:
Many people are quick to snub meditation as a New Age trend, but there’s actual science that backs the benefits of meditation. According to The Harvard Gazette, studies have shown that mindful meditation results in improvement in self-compassion and rumination, making it a great daily ritual for anxious and stressed minds.
“It helps you take a moment to pause the rapid thoughts going through your brain and breathe,” says Saiter. “It’s also a moment for you to raise your awareness about thoughts or feelings you didn’t know were there. I suggest practicing meditation at home first or wherever comfortable until you get a good grasp on it.”
Meditation can be hard to grasp by yourself at first, so there are a few options you can take to assist in the beginning of your meditation journey. You can always take a class (there are some very inexpensive options from studios like INSCAPE), or if your schedule is just too packed, you can even use an app to get a quick session in on your evening commute. Saiter recommends the Headspace or Calm apps for on-the-go meditation breaks.
An Active Body For A Peaceful Mind
The power of staying active is undeniable. Not only does working out and exercising keep your physical body in shape, but it also helps your mental health. A study published within The Primary Care Companion To The Journal Of Clinical Psychiatry showed that exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, making it key to reforming your self care routine.
“This is particularly important in the colder months when all we want to do is stay indoors,” says Saiter. “This can be isolating, so I often encourage people to get up early and learn to discipline themselves by going to the gym or for a run daily, if possible.”
Saiter also pointed out that mental exercise is also important for your state of mind: “Keep your mind active,” he says. “Read some of those books you’ve been meaning to get to, or start a book club with friends!”
Leave Work In The Office
This is an issue one too many of us have — about 30 percent of BodyNutrition’s surveyors complained about work getting in the way of their self care routines — but it’s extremely important to leave your work out of your personal time unless absolutely necessary.
“Possibly one of the most difficult things to do for many is to forget about work during off times and be present with other aspects of life,” says Saiter. “Some even take work home with them! If you are noticing that you are doing this, try setting certain boundaries to help with your work/life balance. For example, ‘I will not do any more work after 5pm.’ Keep in mind that it is impossible to be perfect human beings! Sometimes we need more time to do things. Be fair and respectful to yourself and know your limits. “
Give Therapy A Try
Just like when we feel physically under the weather, sometimes our mental state needs some assistance from the professionals. Saiter recommends seeing a therapy professional if you find it necessary, or to talk to your therapist about new self care techniques you can try under their guidance.
“Often times, therapy can help us better understand ourselves and what we can do to be more compassionate to ourselves,” he says.