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Self Care: Learning How to Take Care of Yourself

Take care of yourself: Self Care Ideas
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Briana Tozour

In frantically trying to keep up with the demands of daily life, it is easy to completely forget to take care of yourself. In this article, we’ll share some self care ideas and tips to help you remember how to take care of yourself.

Self Care: What does that even mean?

The concept of self care is best understood by thinking about what care means in general. When you are taking care of someone or something, you take responsibility for making sure that all of their physical and emotional needs are being met. When you take care of a person or a pet or even a houseplant, your job is to constantly monitor them and make sure they feel good. Parents may understand this especially well. Generally, once you become a parent, your entire life becomes dedicated to taking care of your children.

Eventually, those children are let loose into the world. At this point, and in some ways even earlier, children begin to learn how to take care of themselves. When we become adults, it is largely up to us whether our needs will be met, or not. 

The problem is, we often forget that we have this responsibility for self care. Instead, we get lost in trying to live up to the standards that society sets out for us. We adapt, let ourselves be pushed around, and pressure ourselves to do things that we don’t really want to do. 

Minimalist Christmas the gift of time women laughing
The first step in learning how to take care of yourself is to find out what you really want and feel comfortable with. (Photo. CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Priscilla Du Preez)

The first step in learning how to take care of yourself is to become aware of when you are acting out of a desire to fit into the ideals of society, and when you are truly acting in your own interest. 

Self-Care Ideas: Accepting Yourself

Possibly the most important step in learning how to take care of yourself is: Be proud of yourself and accept yourself as you are. No one is perfect; everyone has flaws. That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t wish to improve yourself – without the desire to be better, personal growth is impossible. But trying to be perfect can make you lose sight of what you actually want or need, because if you are not careful, you’ll find you are striving after the illusion of perfection that is made mostly of societal expectations, and not of your own wishes. 

Read more: Self-Improvement: Why We All Need a Break from Self-Optimization

Take Care of Yourself: Know Yourself

Who are you? What is important to you? What do you really need? These are huge questions that have no simple answer and are yet crucial to taking good care of yourself. As a person, you are always in flux, and the answers to these questions will be ever-changing. That’s why it is so important to never stop asking these things of yourself: if you stop paying attention, you will quickly become out of touch with who you are and what you are looking for in life. 

woman doing yoga self care ideas
Self care: Figure out what your needs are and find a way to fulfill them. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Pexels )

To become better at self care, become consciously aware of the responsibility that you have for yourself. See yourself as a living being that has physical and emotional needs. Maybe imagine yourself as a tree, with roots in the ground, reaching out your branches towards the light. Ask yourself:

  • Do you have rich ground that will allow you to grow strong, deep roots that will support you?
  • Do you have air to breathe and room to grow?
  • Do you have enough light, warmth, and love?
  • What do you need to be happy?
  • Are you careful with yourself or do you constantly expose yourself to storms and rain?
  • Do you live in the right surroundings? Does the atmosphere suit you?
  • Do you feel in control of your life?
  • Do you respect your own boundaries?

Self Care: From Thoughts to Action

Once you have figured out what you need, you can take the next step on your road to taking care of yourself. Consciously accept responsibility for yourself and live accordingly. It can be very helpful to think of your own needs as if they were someone else’s. It might make you less likely to make sacrifices as soon as the expectations or desires of others come into play. 

Try to leave behind the habit of placing disproportionate value on the expectations of others. That doesn’t mean that you should take care of only yourself and disregard the feelings or opinions of other people: it just means bringing taking care of others and taking care of yourself back into a healthy balance. 

You do not need a reason to reward yourself. Give yourself permission to feel good. 

Self Care Ideas: Pay Attention to Yourself 

If you pay attention to yourself and the world around you, you will recognize what you need and thus learn to take care of yourself. In order to do that, it is important to take some quiet time and ask yourself these questions:

  • Be conscious of what you are doing. How does it feel? How do you feel as you are doing it?
  • How does your body feel?
  • What kind of thoughts are you having?
  • What kind of feelings arise?
  • Are you satisfied or is something missing?

What do the answers to these questions mean? What is your body telling you that it needs? What are your heart and mind telling you that they need? Listening to your answers to these questions is essential for your self care.

mindfulness activities
Taking care of yourself means paying attention to yourself: are you getting the rest and relaxation you need? (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Radu Emanuel)

Think about different areas of your life: 

  • Do you generally get enough restful sleep?
  • Do you feel well on your current diet? Do you drink enough water? 
  • Do you have enough time for rest and relaxation? Or are you constantly under stress?
  • Are you happy with your social life and your relationships? Or do you feel trapped in dependency?
  • Do you live a fulfilled life? Do you challenge yourself enough?
  • Do you take care of your body? Do you get enough exercise?

Self Care Tips: Taking “Me” Time

If your life happens to be particularly hectic right now and you are not able to find the time to regularly practice self care, try to set aside time for yourself at least twice a week. Schedule your “me” time and then stick to it. Do something that is good for you, like mindfulness meditation exercises, yoga, a visit to the pool, a walk on the beach, or a few hours with a good book and healthy ginger tea

self care ideas waterfall
Helpful self care ideas include taking some “me” time whenever you can. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Curriculum_Photografia)

During your “me” time, don’t let anything bother you or distract you: concentrate fully on yourself. Only by taking care of yourself will you have the strength and energy to take care of others. 

Taking Care of Yourself: Look For Examples

Pets and small children have relatively basic needs: they eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. Let them be an example to you. Are you tired? Then listen to your body and go to sleep. Is your body malnourished? Give it the healthy food it needs. Are you thirsty? Drink water. Sometimes thinking less and simply acting is the best method to take care of yourself. 

This article was translated from German to English by Christie Sacco. You can read the original here: Selbstfürsorge: So lernst du, besser mit dir umzugehen.

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