Dear Chaya, Self Care Isn’t Selfish


Dear Chaya,

I’m feeling depleted, deflated, and just plain worn out. I don’t have the physical and emotional energy to give to my loved ones like I used to. I’m drained. Most days I end up feeling like a complete failure.

I’m trying my best, but it feels like my internal battery is constantly low and about to die. What can I do to recharge and get my energy back? I want to be the best version of myself, not only for me but for my loved ones, too. What can I do to reset, refresh, and restore my sense of well-being?

-Depleted in Denver

Dear Depleted,

I hear you and I understand. It’s so important to know that you aren’t alone. We all have those times where we feel like we’re barely making it because our tank is on empty. 2020 was an incredibly difficult year for so many people that it’s understandable so many of us are feeling worn out, mentally, emotionally, physically, etc. Even when we’re spending more than ever at home, it’s easy to neglect our own needs and give ourselves the time, attention, and care that we need.

This is where self-care comes in. Self-care might sound like just another trendy buzzword because we hear a lot about it lately. But what does it really mean? Self-care can sound selfish, self-centered, self-indulgent, but it’s not at all! Think about it- how can you have the energy for others if you don’t even have the energy for yourself? If your cup is empty, you have to fill it up. That’s what self-care is all about. It’s so important to make reducing stress and feeling better a top priority.

So how can we go about practicing self-care in our daily lives? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or even super-indulgent. Self-care is actually simple! The trick is finding the ways that work for you and help you feel refreshed, recharged, and ready to face the days ahead with a renewed sense of well-being. Let’s go over the different categories of self-care:

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care means taking time to care for your body and doing things that make you literally feel better. When you feel physically healthy and strong, you’re in a better position to tackle the challenges of the day. The mind-body connection is real, so by nurturing your body, you’re also positively impacting your mental health, too.

There are lots of ways that you can practice physical self-care, from exercising, to eating healthier, to simply getting to bed earlier and getting a good night’s sleep. Think about things that you can do to feel refreshed and restored. Have you wanted to start running, or even just taking a daily walk around the neighborhood? Are there changes that you want to make to your diet that could give you more energy? Something as simple as planning your lunch ahead of time so you don’t end up skipping the meal is a way to practice self-care and make yourself a priority. 

One of my favorite ways to practice physical self-care is by taking a relaxing bath. Not only is this good for helping me unwind physically, but it also helps me to relax mentally, too. It gives me a chance to slow down and soak my worries away.

Emotional Self-Care

As you might have guessed, emotional self-care refers to dealing with and managing our feelings and emotions. We have to have healthy ways to express our feelings so that they don’t weigh us down. Whether it’s frustration, sadness, disappointment, anger, etc., finding ways to cope and process those emotions is key. 

Good ways to practice emotional self-care are by acknowledging your feelings, turning to your loved ones for support, and being honest about how you feel. If you’re having a rough day, recognize that and accept it. Then try to do something to make it better, even if it’s just as simple as having that piece of chocolate cake that you’ve been craving or calling your best friend on the phone.

Mental Self-Care

Mental self-care goes right along with caring for our emotional and physical well-being. When we’re mentally stressed out, it can manifest in physical ways. It can lead to burnout and prevent us from accomplishing the things we set out to do.

Keep your mind sharp with activities that stimulate and entertain you, like crossword puzzles, podcasts, reading, or even coloring. Find something that you really enjoy doing and make time for it every day or at least every week. It should be something that lets you decompress, relax, and takes your mind off of your to-do list.

Spiritual Self-Care

If spirituality or practicing religion plays an important part in your life, then you know it’s an area that needs to be regularly tended to. Sometimes we struggle to feel that deep, soulful connection, or we struggle to make time for it. Engaging in spiritual self-care can look like finding a quiet space and a dedicated time to focus. We can pray, meditate, or read. We can listen to something inspirational. Make the time for whatever you think will help you feel more grounded and rooted in your spiritual practice. 

Social Self-Care

This is a tough one right now since we’ve all been asked to limit our social activities over the last year. At this point, you may be feeling really starved of that social connection that you crave with friends and family. So how can you stay connected and keep your relationships strong when in-person time together is so limited?

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and send someone a message, even if you haven’t reached out to them in a while. Everyone is dealing with challenges these days, so don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t called or texted in weeks (or even months). Send that message or make that call that you’ve been meaning to make. Even a quick exchange with someone can make you feel better.

You may consider getting together with a friend for a walk in the park or even just a walk around the block. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Sometimes just getting outside and seeing someone face to face for a conversation will lift your spirits.

As you can probably tell, all of these different categories of self-care go hand-in-hand with one another. Doing something that makes you feel refreshed in one area can help you feel better in another, too. The bottom line is that you have to allow yourself the opportunity to relax and recharge. Don’t neglect yourself, no matter what. When you fill up your cup, you have more to give to those around you.

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