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Prioritize Self-Care in 2021

This year, many of us have been consumed with what is going on around us. If you have a stable job and a healthy family, you have probably felt more grateful than ever. You might be thinking “If I’m so lucky to have my job and my family, isn’t it selfish to want to take even more time for myself?” One of the biggest misconceptions about self-care is that it takes away from how much you give to others. By allocating resources to caring for yourself, you’ll in turn have the energy to give even more to others, whether it’s your job, the people in your life, or causes that you care about.

Below we explain what exactly self-care means, why you should prioritize self-care moving into 2021, some of its benefits, and ways you can practice it no matter how much time you may have:

What is Self-Care?

Essentially, self-care consists of anything you do to be good and kind to yourself. However, it is crucial not to confuse self-care with unhealthy coping habits such as heavy drinking. Unhealthy coping mechanisms might feel good in the moment, but they can be more detrimental in the long run. Self-care activities may not always seem very appealing in the moment, such as exercising after a long day, but they will deliver delayed gratification by helping you cope with life’s demands.

Burnout is a very real threat.

Work and home life have become increasingly demanding this year, as employees had to shift the way they work, home became the office, and children participated in school online. Increased demands and stress lead to burnout. Taking steps to prevent burnout is not selfish: burnout can be devastating to job performance, can cause individuals to become detached towards others, and negatively impact one’s health and well-being. To be a good employee and be there for others, it is essential to prevent burnout by talking care of yourself.

Benefits of Self-Care

Self-care can benefit your body, mind, and spirit. Some of these benefits include enhanced self-esteem, increased self-knowledge by discovering what you love to do, and even improved resistance to disease. In terms of work, it can prevent you from over-extending yourself, get better sleep, reduce stress, and better manage your time. This can help your focus, interpersonal interactions, and work-life balance.

Ways to Practice Self-Care

Below are some common ways to practice self-care. These can involve sensory or emotional experiences, physical activity, spiritual connection, or socializing. Incorporating just one or two of these tips into your daily routine can have a significant impact.

  1. If you have a few minutes, try:

    • Feeling the sun on your skin

    • Holding a pet

    • Admiring something beautiful

    • Standing up and stretching

    • Thinking about something you’ve accomplished recently

2. If you have 20 minutes-1 hour, try:

  • Going on a walk, jog, or do yoga

  • Having a conversation with someone who makes you happy

  • Journaling your thoughts or feelings

  • Laughing, crying, singing, expressing your authentic emotions

  • Cleaning, updating, or decluttering your space

  • Doing something on your to-do list that will make you feel accomplished

  • Unplugging from screen time

  • Taking a nap

3. If you have an entire morning, afternoon, or evening, try:

  • A long hike

  • Meal prepping food that will make you feel good

  • A social distance or virtual activity with people who make you happy

  • Rekindling a hobby that used to bring you joy

4. Some general tips:

  • Sleep! It’s not a luxury, it’s essential to your functioning.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or say no if you feel yourself approaching burnout.

  • Be kind and honest with yourself. Sometimes, exercise is a great self-care activity. Other times, it’s coming from a place of punishment and will only over-extend you more. Be mindful of what type of self-care activity you may need.

In short, self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Especially during these challenging times. So don’t “suck it up” and “plow through” your daily activities, take a moment to literally stop and smell the roses. You won’t only be helping yourself, you will also be helping those around you. Commit to incorporating at least one of the above suggestions today!! Don’t wait!!

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