How To Practice Self-Care?

Take the Driver's Seat to Your Wellbeing
What is self-care?
Agnes Branny, a content creator and psychologist at 29k, says that people often reach a point in life when they have all the possible insights and tools. However, they're still not where they want to be. This made her curious about the barriers we face. One of them, she says, is that people often don't think it's that important to make time for self-care.

According to Agnes our understanding of self-care has expanded from physical to include mental health and emotional wellbeing in recent years. This correlates with the rise of stress-related burnout, which has been getting more attention as an increasingly widespread mental health issue. The World Health Organization defines self-care as "the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider."
Investing in yourself trains your brain to see yourself as someone who matters.
Self-care isn't just about going to the spa, Agnes says. Although there's nothing wrong with pampering yourself as part of your self-care routine, Agnes thinks it's time to broaden our understanding of self-care to include all the things we can do for our wellbeing and see it as anc to showing up for ourselves.

Agnes' own self-care practice includes yoga, and because of her family life and limited time, she's not in a position to practice at a studio. So, right now, she practices for shorter amounts of time more often rather than attending one long class once a week. When her two children are at a pre-school, it's easy for her to practice at home, but on weekends they're usually climbing all over her back while in downward facing dog. But even if toys are being thrown around or the children start screaming or pressing on the keyboard in the middle of her YouTube yoga tutorial, she still sees that time as necessary. As a result, Agnes notices that when she follows through on her practice, it is easier to show up for herself again next time.

For Agnes , self-care is an ongoing proactive practice of investing time in yourself. It is all about taking the time to find the right activities that work for you and which will improve your overall wellbeing in the long-term. It's about putting "taking care of yourself" at the center, not when we're already burnt out. It's about trusting that showing up for yourself helps you show up more purposefully for your loved ones. The results may not be immediate, but even the smallest investments, when repeated, send a powerful message to yourself and your surroundings that you are valuable and worthy of this time.

"The messages we tell ourselves are so important. Unfortunately, we are more inclined to tell ourselves negative things, so self-care can sometimes feel counterintuitive. A fraction of "me-time" each day will charge up your wellbeing. The next day, the battery may not last, and I may have to do something new. Discipline is required, but it doesn't have to be perfect", says Agnes.
Self-care is important, but how do I find out what I need?
The first step, Agnes says, is to do a self-scan and ask yourself how you are feeling. Once you know that, you can start to think about how to meet your needs. Ask yourself, what can I do to feel better in this area?

It can be as simple as shifting your attitude. Becoming more mindful about the things we all need to do, such as sleeping, eating, and personal hygiene. Prioritize your eight hours of sleep. Or, each time you have a meal, instead of just seeing eating as a means to an end, you can take a moment to reflect on how you are nourishing your body with this very meal, thereby improving your wellbeing. Reflecting on how you wake up every morning. Can you replace checking your phone first with doing something kind to yourself, such as taking a moment of meditation, gratefulness, or making your favorite cup of tea? So, start small, check-in with yourself and what you need, choose one action, and repeat it often. Change things up if needed!

"You don't have to become a health junkie or wait for the perfect conditions to practise self-care," Agnes says, "Even when you're pressed for time, or injured and can't go running, you can always do something for yourself."
Agnes' tips for self-care
Think about what actions make you feel better.
These may range from activities that take five minutes to several days. Create a shortlist of things and carry it with you day. When you sense a need to improve your wellbeing in this area, your list allows you to quickly opt into something that is feasible in this moment. Even though you may not be able to go for a three-day hike, you can always make an investment in yourself in smaller ways.
Work on taking an active role in your wellbeing.
Know that you are more than a passenger, you're an active driver of your mental, emotional and physical well-being. While spending time on self-care will not prevent you from coming across difficult periods in your life, you will be better prepared to manage them.
Your small actions matter.
Even if you just take one minute to take ten mindful breaths counts. From a neuropsychology point of view, you are training your brain to tell yourself that you are worthy of this time.
About Agnes Branny
Agnes has worked as a private life coach and project manager for many years in both Scotland and Sweden. She has a master's in the psychology of individual differences and is a certified counsellor.
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