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Caring for Yourself

Written by: Shirma Prescott-Clark, M.S.
Caring for Yourself

We constantly hear about self-care and how important it is. At times you may hear about it so much that it just becomes cliché’. So how important is self-care really? I say, very. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy.”

Caring for oneself does not always have to be a big grandiose gesture. It can be small daily things like the simplicity of taking a stroll in the park, reading your favorite magazine or the newspaper while sipping your morning cup of coffee at dawn, or enjoying the silhouette of flickering candles while a warm bubble bath soothes your soul. Taking these meaningful moments in life are very important. They fill your cup, so you have enough to give to others. Of course, self-care looks different for everyone so find what’s right for you. Here are a few suggestions to get you off to a good start:

Get some exercise! Indoors or outdoors. Exercise at least 30 minutes three to four times per week. That can be in the form of a brisk walk, run, yoga, weight training or other activities.

Eat healthy meals and cut back on fast food and processed foods and drink plenty of water.

Get enough sleep! As much as we love our electronics (cell phones, laptops and other devices), blue light stimulates our brain and prevents us from getting a good night’s sleep so shut down those electronics 30 minutes to one hour before bed.

Do relaxation and breathing exercises.

Set realistic goals for yourself and learn to say “no” rather than overbook yourself.

Consciously remind yourself to be thankful. Keeping a gratitude journal can be a great thing.

Focus on what uplifts you and challenge negative thinking and unhealthy thought patterns.

Keep supportive friends and family around you. Everyone needs a cheerleader!

Basically, self-care is being good to yourself, honoring the you that you are. Take yourself to dinner and a movie or treat yourself to something special because as you learn to love and honor yourself, you have more love to give to others. Your cup will be full! Jose Luis Borges put it plainly, “Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”