Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions of life? If so, it may be time to start practicing emotional self-care. If you aren’t familiar, this process is about making sure that your physical and mental health needs are being met.
It’s a process that allows you to effectively nourish all parts of you including your mind body and soul.
We’re going to go a bit deeper into what exactly emotional self-care is and what it looks like in this article but for now just think of it as an important part of your day-to-day routine if you want to be in top form each day.
This doesn’t mean that it has to be a complicated process either: in fact, there are many simple ways to practice this approach to wellness on a daily basis.
My goal here is to discuss what emotional self-care is, why it’s important for everyone (not just people who struggle with their mental health), and how you can develop habits and routines for practicing it in your day to day life.
What is emotional self-care?
Emotional self-care is a way to prioritize yourself. It’s about making time for the things that make you feel happy, relaxed, and fulfilled – even if it’s just for an hour each day.
It can be anything from taking a bubble bath or reading a book in solitude to talking with your friends about what ’s on your mind or watching a TV show that you like.
It can be something as small as getting up an extra 15 minutes early to eat breakfast, or it can be a big thing like taking time off of work. This process is about doing whatever you need in order to feel good and get through the day.
Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant
This is an important piece to understand. Many people feel that taking care of themselves means taking an extravagant trip to the spa or getting a massage. While these things are certainly good, they aren’t often reliable or repeatable.
This is a huge misconception and a major problem. If you believe that this is a requirement then you may end up avoiding it altogether. This ultimately means not taking time for the things you need to nourish your mind body and soul.
The stress or overwhelm caused by trying to figure out how to do it the “right” way can lead to ignoring it as a potential routine for your own life.
But things don’t have to be like that. This process can be extremely simple. In fact, you should aim for it to be extremely simple.
It doesn’t have to be complicated and often times it shouldn’t be. The spa day is nice but it really isn’t the best way to take care of yourself regularly if it’s not something you can prioritize often.
As I said earlier, doing something for yourself that you enjoy like watching a favorite TV show, meditating for even just five minutes every day, having a glass of wine, these can make a huge difference in your overall happiness and sense of well being. And since they are repeatable, overtime they can help you maintain a healthy mind, healthy emotions, and a sense of focus.
By keeping things simple and repeatable you allow yourself the chance to take care of your body regularly, develop a healthy mind, and better manage the stress of every day life.
That’s why taking care of yourself emotionally can be so incredibly valuable. By
Why is self-care so important?
At first glance it may be difficult to fully understand why this process is so important. Often the things we have time to fit in, like having a glass of wine, feel too small to matter.
We might ask questions like how is watching my favorite tv show going to help me manage my mental health? Surely that isn’t enough right?
It makes sense why we don’t give it the credit it deserves but taking care of ourselves is incredibly important because it provides a little moment of relief in the midst of chaos.
Keeping your routine small and manageable may feel like it won’t matter but it’s actually desirable. A routine you can rely on is key to ensure you can still find time for it amidst all life’s other stresses.
This process is also important because it can be used to take care of ourselves when we feel like the other people in our lives won’t. This isn’t to say that these people don’t care, but they may just not be able to give us what it is that we need. After all, they can’t read our minds and they often can’t anticipate our needs.
When we’re stressed out from a tough day and get home, our partners or family may be understanding, they may be supportive, but they aren’t necessarily going to be able to help us relax or shut down from the day. The responsibility for doing that is on us.
This is why it’s important for us to remember that taking care of ourselves is not selfish or indulgent – it is necessary and essential! Emotional self-care allows us time to think about what makes us happy, which then provides an opportunity for feeling better overall.
care of ourselves is not selfish or indulgent – it is necessary and essential! Emotional self-care allows us time to think about what makes us happy, which then provides an opportunity for feeling better overall.
4 Reasons Why Self-Care Is Important
It helps us take care of ourselves
This is something that is often overlooked when it comes to self-care, even thought it’s literally in the title. We think of self-care as a way to take care of ourselves but never stop to question what that really means.
In life there are any number of things that we will need that we are responsible for. Our feelings, our reactions, our knowledge, these are just some examples.
Our ability to navigate the day, manage our energy, and build routines that keep us at our peak is completely on us. One potential solution to make this process easier is self-care.
So to repeat what I said at the top of this section, by practicing self-care regularly we enable ourselves to take care of ourselves. In many ways, self-care is like the swiss army knife for our day to day needs.
It’s vital to our mental and emotional health
Self-care is also incredibly important when it comes to our mental health.
Think about this, we wouldn’t live our lives only going to the doctor when there was a really bad problem right? This is why we do our annual check-ups and physicals. It’s to make sure things are working well BEFORE any problems arise.
So why would we do that with our mental health?
Self-care allows us to manage stress levels and remain at peace on a day to day basis. It’s about maintaining our mental and emotional health each day so that we can avoid any major issues, or catch them before they start.
Doesn’t that sound much better than waiting until you have a panic attack or mental breakdown? Self-care is the preventative care that helps us stay in top form to tackle the day in front of us.
Taking time for self-care can help you be more productive at work or school
In order to be more productive each day we need to be more productive in all aspects of our lives.
As we just covered, self-care is essential to maintaining mental health and emotional stability.
Self-care will help you work more effectively by making sure that you are a well-oiled machine capable of using the time not just productively, but also wisely.
This may sound counter-intuitive but in order to be at our best during the day we need to take steps from the night before.
Calming ourselves down at night with mindfulness techniques such as meditation or gratitude journaling can go a long way towards improving our sleep, and thus our energy for the next day.
This can also reduce stress levels so they don’t build up over the course of the evening and leave us feeling exhausted when morning rolls around again.
It’s also, as I’ve talked about many times, important to get plenty of sleep each night because this helps keep moods stable, having a solid self-care routine is a critical part of making this happen.
Being kind to yourself will make you feel better about your body, appearance, and life in general
This is another one that a lot of people don’t think of but practicing self-care regularly and being kind to yourself can help improve your overall confidence by making you feel better about your body, appearance, and life in general.
It’s really easy to get caught up each day in all the negative things going on. This can often spill over into our feelings about ourselves. That thing that happened at work today? Well it was our fault because we’re just not good enough.
Or maybe our partner didn’t text us back because they secretly think we’re ugly and not going anywhere.
Or perhaps the reason we’re so stressed out in the first place is because we’re just too stupid and everyone else around us has it totally figured out.
These are some of the negative thoughts that can build up and become easier to get into when you let your stresses and frustrations build up day after day.
Self-care can help avoid this by making it easier to manage those thoughts and stresses.
Not to mention the very specific habits you can practice that have a direct effect on your confidence levels. Things like:
- Taking time to exercise
- Listening to music that pumps you up
- Eating well and choosing foods that are energizing
What are some examples of self-care?
We’ve kind of already gone over this a bit but self-care is done best when it’s simple, tiny, and repeatable.
Yes, hitting up the massage parlor technically counts as self-care but how often can you do that?
If it’s not something you can rely on and repeat often then it won’t serve it’s purpose as a tool to maintain yourself at a certain standard. With that said, here are some examples of practicing repeatable self-care:
Wash your face
In place of going to a spa, which is something you can’t do that regularly, why not treat yourself at home by washing your face with a nice facial cleanser, exfoliating, and moisturizing?
It’s simple, repeatable, and can leave you feeling a little lighter than before. Plus it helps you practice good hygiene and get rid of the oils and grime that have collected throughout the day so it’s literally a win win.
Spend time on your teeth
When was the last time you really spent time with your teeth? Like got all up in there and really went to town? Why not do that tonight before bed? Instead of just brushing, or brushing and flossing, why not be a bit more purposeful in your approach.
Brush for the full amount of time, then apply a fresh coat of toothpaste for your tongue.
Spend time with each individual tooth while flossing instead of rushing through while watching TV. And finally, finish it off with a nice squish from your favorite tasting mouthwash.
It sounds silly but this is a ritual we all engage in every day, hopefully, and often rush through. Taking our time with it can lead to an increased appreciation for this simple act.
Stretching is one of the most important things you can do to keep your body in good shape as you age. Spending time each day on this can do incredible things for how you feel in your own skin.
Stretching is important because it improves your range of motion and circulation. I also want to emphasize the importance of stretching because it is a great way to reduce stress.
This is especially important for people who sit all day long too like I do. As we age our muscles naturally shrink from lack of use so making sure that they are stretched daily will help them stay nimble as well as strong for as long as possible.
Plus you’ll probably feel great right after doing it so there’s really no downside.
Here’s the point, it can be hard to put self-care first sometimes due to work schedules and responsibilities. That’s why we focus on tiny ways to practice self-care more regularly.
Self-care doesn’t just mean going for a run in the morning or spending an hour meal prepping each week.
Those things are nice but if they aren’t possible all you need to do is make sure you’re living an overall healthy lifestyle and putting yourself at the forefront of your priorities.
How to practice self-care every day
So how do we make this happen more regularly? If we are busy and short on time, how can we make sure we are practicing self-care every day?
Well it’s actually pretty simple when you think about it practicing self-care every day requires you to build the habit of practicing self-care.
Simple right? But certainly not easy.
So let’s start by answering a simple question…
What is a self-care habit?
Put simply, a self-care habit is a small action you do every day or week to take care of yourself.
All of the examples we’ve already talked through can be made into habits if repeated often enough and given enough time. This is an important distinction to make. There is a difference between a random self-care action like journaling and a repeated habit like journaling every night before bed.
By turning our self-care actions into self-care habits we make them easier to engage in which then ensures that we are regularly practicing self-care no matter how busy we are.
But that’s not where this process ends because there is a step available to us that’s even further than just a habit.
The self-care routine
Where as a self-care habit is all about repeating individual actions each day or week to make them easier to engage in, a self-care routine is like the container that these habits may fall into.
To create a self-care routine we need to create multiple self-care habits and then string them together one after another into a longer series of habits that we regularly follow.
By doing this we make each individual habit easier to engage in, expand the amount of time we spend on our self-care each day, and ensure we are giving ourselves the attention we deserve.
So with that said, let’s break all of this down into a simple process you can follow to build your self-care practice.
- Start with self-care actions
- Convert the actions you like into repeated habits
- String habits together to create a self-care routine
It’s that simple. By first starting with random self-care actions you give yourself the ability to experiment and try new ways of practicing self-care.
Once you’ve found things you like, you can then convert them to habits that you engage in regularly.
Then finally, once you’ve got a handle on a few habits, you can create a routine that you stick to overtime.
How to maintain your self-care practices
So we’ve established that self-care is important, we’ve broken down what self-care should look like, we’ve talked about the role that actions, habits, and routines play in our daily self-care, and we’ve created a simple process for developing each of these in your own life.
Next we need to talk about how to stick with these self-care practices for the long term. Because at the end of the day, if you can’t make these habits stick then you aren’t going to get the long term benefits from them that you could.
We’re going to talk about two things that are necessary for long-term self-care success.
The first is to build in reminders to make sure that you have some external accountability to keep you showing up, the second is time management and the role it plays in our ability to make our routines work each day. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Reminders: Self care can get totally lost when we don’t have reminders around us all day every day. This means you should set up either an alarm on your phone or use something like Google Calendar so that you are reminded often to take time out for yourself.
One thing I like to do here is to set a reminder on google calendar for a random time that day. I find that if an alarm goes off at the same time each day I will eventually go blind to it, by making the time random each day I’m more likely to be surprised by it which often leads to more action.
I use this to remind myself of whatever my self-care habits are for that day. Even if I don’t drop everything to do them right then, the novelty of the random alarm makes it easier to remember later.
Time management: Here’s a golden rule of self-care, when you’re practicing self-care, practice self-care! It’s important both for productivity and happiness that we give ourselves enough time each week/month to allow ourselves to enjoy this time.
There are a number of ways to make this time a priority but one simple strategy is this:
- Take out a piece of paper and write “self care” at the top.
- Draw a line under it so you have two columns on your page, one labeled “daily self care,” and the other with any weekly or monthly items.
- Block off time at the start of your day or week for your daily self-care tasks and your weekly or monthly. Literally get them into your calendar or planner BEFORE anything else.
This might seem extreme but here’s a question, shouldn’t taking care of yourself come before responding to everyone else’s needs? Aren’t you important enough to yourself to justify that? I think so.
Conclusion: How to practice emotional self-care
At the end of the day, whether or not you choose to make emotional self-care an important part of your day is entirely up to you. You can choose to make it happen and gain all of the benefits that come with it like better mental health, more energy, improved relationships, and more happiness. Or you can ignore it and wait until you have an emotional breakdown to do anything kind for yourself.
With that said I want you to consider that you are just as worthy of taking care of your needs and doing the things that make YOU feel good, happy, loved as anyone else is. You are just as worthy of your love as the people you love are.
It’s not selfish, it’s not vain, it’s not being fussy. It’s necessary. And if more people viewed it this way we would find ourselves in a better position at the end of each day.
Throughout this article we’ve covered a number of topics like what emotional self-care is, why it’s important, what it should look like, and how to practice it.
Then we looked at the process of turning it into a habit, then a routine. And finally, we looked at how to stay consistent with it for the long term.
But here’s an important takeaway; self-care may not always be easy to do but it is always productive.
It’s not about feeling good all the time – though that would be nice to have too – it’s about being able to feel anything at all, good, bad, sad, angry…etc and knowing that it’s okay to have that feeling. The truth is we will never stop needing self-care because life isn’t fair or easy, so why keep putting it off?