Taking Care of You: the Importance of Simple Self-Care

By Brian Berman
One of the first things patients learn in either a hospital or rehab setting is that before taking care of anything or anyone else – take care of yourself. You are no good to your family, friends, employees, students, or co-workers if you are not taking care of yourself. If you think of yourself as the rock of your family that is holding everything together or if you are pushing yourself in school or work to do more, be more, win more, you need to ask how am I taking care of myself?

It is very common for people in the modern world to be striving to take care of others or get ahead of others in life. Co-dependency or perfectionism can be warning signs that you are not likely taking care of yourself in the way you should.

Self-care is an easy thing to do in theory. In fact, it can start with some very easy steps;

  1.  Get enough sleep.
  2.  Take a shower/Brush Your Teeth
  3.  Eat something healthy.
  4.  Take any prescribed medications as directed.
  5.  Take a little time for yourself every day.

The first four seem like they should be no-brainers. However, often people who are suffering from depression can look at those first four things and not do them. They may question how doing them every day is going to make a difference in their life. The truth is these are the building blocks of beginning of taking care of yourself.

Admiral William H. McRaven, a 37-year Navy veteran and #1 best-selling author, gave a commencement speech about how the little things in your life can help change it and the world. Admiral McRaven spoke passionately about waking up in the morning and immediately making your bed. If you do that, he says it will give you the satisfaction of successfully completing the first thing in the day and set yourself up for success. I mention this because making self-care (such as taking a daily shower, showering and getting out of your pajamas or sweats) changes you in very small ways. Getting started each day in the right way can change how you feel about yourself and the day ahead of you. Admiral McRaven says that completing one task makes it easier to complete the next task and other tasks throughout the day.

The five things listed to begin your Self-Care regiment are all easy. The fifth one on the list is a little more challenging. However, it doesn’t really take that much other than a commitment to do. Doing something for yourself every day can be done in a minimum of twenty minutes a day. 20 minutes is less than a half-hour television show, is the typically amount of time Americans take to eat a meal, is less than running a small load of laundry. If you look at your day, you can find 20 minutes to give yourself.

What can you do for yourself? That is up to you. It can be as simple as:

Going outside and enjoying the sun

  • Taking a relaxing bath
  • Listening to your favorite music uninterrupted
  • Reading a book you’ve been wanting to read
  • Going for a short walk
  • Playing with your pet
  • Picking or buying yourself flowers.
  • Gardening.

This time should not include electronics. Electronics have an effect on our brain that does not contribute to relaxation. So put your phone or tablet away. Stay off your computer or the TV.

Taking time for yourself does not need to be elaborate or require much money. It does require one of the most precise things in life – time. It doesn’t need to be much. Start with 20 minutes and build from there. Ask yourself, are you worth 20 minutes in a day with over 1400 minutes in it? Isn’t my family worth 20 minutes of my time? Doesn’t my family or significant other deserve the best from me? Taking time for yourself allows you to be the best you for others.

Doing these 5 things is a choice. You don’t need much money, much time, or really much energy to do them. Doing these things is a simple matter of choice. You can’t help other people if you aren’t taking care of yourself. If you are feeling run down, depressed, or have no energy, those you love feed off you. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor. Start your day taking simple steps to take care of you.

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