Self Help

It's International Self-Care Day. Here's how to treat yourself.

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You gotta nourish to flourish!
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It’s #InternationalSelfCareDay, an occasion for people to share their go-to self-care strategies, and to learn from each other about how to better cultivate wellness.

International Self-Care Day was developed in 2011 by the International Self-Care Foundation as an occasion to take notice of your body and mind — whether through physical exercise, meditation, a nice, long bubble bath, or whatever works for you. In the past, celebrities and activists have opened up about the importance of practicing self-care for their mental health and general wellbeing. Even Beyoncé is no stranger to the concept. In 2011 she opened up about taking a year off of making music, saying, “My mother was very persistent and she kept saying that I had to take care of my mental health … So I went to see museums, ballets, the Great Wall of China and everywhere I had been to but never got to see.”

People from all walks of life struggle to take care of themselves. If you’re interested in celebrating International Self-Care Day but aren’t sure how to start, here are some tips:

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness, or the state of acknowledging the present moment, is one way to tackle built-up stress and anxiety. Controlled breathing, meditating, or otherwise finding time to take in your surroundings can be a powerful way to combat negative thoughts.

Here‘s an illustrated guide for an easy, quick meditation exercise. 

And some more options for what you might do to take a moment for yourself.

If you’d like more help with your meditation, both Headspace and Calm are popular meditation apps that can help guide you through your first session.

2. Take care of your body AND mind

While physical exercise and healthy eating are great ways to take care of your body, it’s important not to forget about your mental health. Your emotional and spiritual wellbeing are equally important and deserving of attention. 

For example, keeping a journal can help you work through complicated feelings that get jumbled up in your head. Making the habit of writing a couple paragraphs down every night can help you better understand what you are feeling and why.

3. Set boundaries

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a friend was the importance of knowing your limitations. Setting boundaries not only means saying “no” to things you don’t have time for, but also standing up to people who take more out of you then they give back. 

Having healthy boundaries means “knowing and understanding your limits” psychologist and coach Dana Gionta explains in an interview with Psych Central: “unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn.” The interview includes 10 ways to develop the skill.

4. Plan an adventure

Taking advantage of the world around you doesn’t have to mean planning a long, expensive trip. It’s less about how far you go and more about breaking the routine. Take a quick look in your area and see if any nearby museums, theaters, or parks spark your interest. Or just take a walk, and see where you end up. What do you have to lose?

5. Repeat after me: Self-care is not selfish

People often forget to take care of their own health because they’re used to putting others first. Spending time and money on yourself can feel selfish and wasteful.

The problem is — and it’s a real catch-22 — if you aren’t taken care of, you can’t really care for others. The goal is to reach some kind of balance in which you are actively taking your own needs into consideration.

If you’re still not convinced, consider reading Kenya Foy’s “6 important differences between self-care and selfishness.”

6. Remember to laugh!

I personally find humor to be one of the most healing remedies to sadness. Whatever gravity I’ve built up during the day finds its release in laughter. 

I am not the only one to see its benefits.

According to Dacha Keltner, a professor of psychology at U.C. Berkley, “people who spontaneously experienced amusement and laughter when discussing a deceased spouse showed better emotional adjustment in the years following the spouse’s death.” Other studies show that humor helps people deal with pain in moments of physical adversity and can help smooth over potentially awkward social interactions.

So, whether it’s International Self Care Day or just any old day, make sure to spend time with friends who make you laugh, try not to take yourself too seriously, read or watch something funny, and, when in doubt, turn to the internet for viral animal videos. They never fail.

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