Taking Care of the Self

Young girl smiling with her mom

Taking Care of the Self

March 1, 2021 • ByCynthia Velasquez, LCSW

Have you heard of the phrase “self-care”? Take a moment to think about what comes to mind when you think of it. Did phrases such as “I have no idea what it is,” “it is selfish to do,” “I do not have time for it,” or “I’ve heard of it but I am unsure how to do it” come to mind? If so, you are not alone. Often, we are told or hear that we should practice self-care in our lives, but don’t know what that means or looks like.

For me, I thought self-care meant self-indulgent activities like taking a long bubble bath, getting a massage, indulging in some sweets, or lounging by the television. But self-care is more than that. It is the act of taking care of yourself—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

It is about taking care of our health and wellbeing and of our families. It is also about finding ways to manage stressors in your life and taking care of your health. Self-care is about setting boundaries and taking time to take a break to refuel.

In our daily lives, taking care of ourselves is even more important. But how do we do it? How do we practice self-care when we experience many stressors in our lives and may be in survival mode? Like me, you may have typed this phrase into a search engine, hoping to find ideas of how to implement self-care in your life, especially after a long day or week. So I’ve come up with some ideas for you and everyone in your family.

For parents, taking time for yourself may be difficult with work, school, errands, household chores, and taking care of children. I invite you to practice self-care with your children. This can be a great way to bond and teach your children how they can care for their health and well-being.

Ideas for Children

Here are some ways your children can practice self-care:

  • Creative activities
  • Engaging in play
  • Practicing hygiene (e.g. brushing teeth, combing hair)
  • Having outside time
  • Practicing identifying and talking about emotions

For more ideas, check out ChildSavers’ article that breaks down ideas for various ages.

Many of these activities you can do with your child. Think about ways you can play together or work on a creative project. There are fun activities that can be done with household items.

What about adolescents?

Self-care can mean:

  • Reading a book
  • Volunteer
  • Peer connection
  • Active activities: sports, running, or dance
  • Having responsibilities to build independence
  • Completing household chores
  • Having a part-time job
  • Disconnect from technology

What about adults?

Here are some ideas:

  • Reading or listening to a podcast
  • Making and attending to medical appointments
  • Adding movement into your day—a quick walk or stretch can make a difference
  • Participating in religious or spiritual activities
  • Creating a gratitude list or journal
  • Engage in Meditation
    • Download the Liberation app, which has meditations for people of color
    • Download InsightTimer, a free app for meditation
    • Find meditations on YouTube. Click here to see one of my favorites!

The idea of self-care and practicing it may seem difficult to do, but I invite you to think about ways you are already practicing it in your life. Take this year to reflect on ways you practice self-care and ways you can implement it more. Maybe it is making a doctor’s appointment you’ve been avoiding or adding a walk during your day. No matter what activity you do, remember that you are investing in yourself.

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