What is self care and why is it important? The way I often find myself explaining this idea to youth and their parents is that self care is about actively doing something to maintain enough energy to not only get through the day, week, month, or year, but, more importantly in my opinion, to enjoy life.
It can be easy to get bogged down with life, struggling to keep anxiety and depression at bay, or even manage modern day stresses. A limited amount of energy can make it very difficult to take in the moments of joy and happiness that occur throughout our daily lives.
I view self care as a solution that falls on a continuum with no time spent recuperating on one end and with an overindulgence on the other end of the spectrum. Either extreme usually leads to problems while the middle road often is the most adaptive and healthy. For example, I often find that children with behavioral or academic problems spend an excessive amount of time playing while adults with anxiety may spend a majority of their time either working or thinking about working. As you can probably see, the right balance between play and work needs to occur allowing for times in our lives where the balance changes due to special circumstances such as a final exam or an important deadline at work.
Keeping that in mind, I often talk with clients about making time for themselves because they are worth it and because they will be better able to take care of others if they are well themselves. Below are my top 5 recommendations:
- Have a date night or go out with friends: When was the last time you spent time with your significant other or friends? Social support has been showed to be have positive effects on our health.
- Exercise: Whether it is going for a run, hitting the weight room, or going to a dance class, find an activity that gets your heart rate up. Research has demonstrated that regular exercise help effective way of treating anxiety, depression and stress.
- Meditation: One of the most ancient ways to relax and find peace. Meditation can be as simple as deep breathing and paying attention to your breath. There is tons of evidence that meditation is a great way to manage stress, anxiety, depression and even pain.
- Take a hike: Going for a walk around the neighborhood can be relaxing but for a greater effect find your way to a local nature trail away from the city. Going into nature is a great reminder that we, and our problems, are minuscule in comparison to the vast expanse of nature and the universe.
- Play: Have fun, smile, and laugh playing a game, checking out a comedy club, or doing something that makes your day brighter. Playing is a great way to relax and to connect with your family or friends.
I hope you enjoyed reading about self care and my top 5 suggestions. If so, please like us on Facebook and share it with friends and family.
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My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center specialize in counseling children, teens, young adults and families. We have clinicians who specialize in working with families overcoming challenging patterns. If you believe you or someone you love could benefit from our services, we are here to help. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Written: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist
Image by Dedda71 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons