The Movement for Self-Compassion: 7 Steps for Better Self-Care

woman practicing self-care while stretching in chair with a book on her lap

Self-care has been gaining media attention in recent years. It’s also been a favorite topic among celebrities and personalities. Gwyneth Paltrow speaks about mindful living; Jim Carrey promotes spiritual healing; and Michelle Obama advocates active lifestyle. These celebrities are making the self-care concept accessible and popular. Most significantly, the revolution for self-compassion has become relevant in our fast-paced and hyper-connected reality. And because of this movement, new business models are also being introduced in the market.

Why is Self-Care Important?

Simply put, self-care is being responsible for yourself. It means taking care of your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Caring for oneself means doing activities and practices to help with the upkeep of your overall health. This includes hygiene, workouts, social habits, and other methods to help us disconnect, slowdown, and renew ourselves. With approximately 48 million adults in the US dealing with mental health conditions every year, self-care should be an important aspect in all of our lives.  Here’s why:

  • Self-care prevents burnout. Burnout—the result of chronic and excessive stress—has been found to have damaging effects on certain parts of our brain. Stress causes the shrinkage and aging of the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and medial prefrontal cortex. These are areas of the brain that modulate our stress response.
  • It helps our system decompress and relax. A self-care regimen incorporated into our daily schedule can help restore our body’s relaxed state. A calm body gets better sleep, has improved appetite and digestion, and works better in repairing cells and tissues.
  • Self-care helps restore our focus and brings our gaze back to what is true and important. Self-care helps us declutter our mind and free up our mental space. With clearer vision, we are able to make better decisions and be more productive at work.
  • Self-care feeds and nourishes the soul. Our food intake provides the required energy for our body to function. In the same manner, self-care feeds us in the psychological level. A full soul is more compassionate and sympathetic towards others.
  • It allows us to rekindle friendship with ourselves. We strive to give our best at work, we provide our friends support, and we give our loved ones our undivided attention. Yet, we fail to cut ourselves some slack. Self-care will allow us to treat ourselves with more sympathy and compassion.

Wellness is Everybody’s Business

The overall attitude towards health is now more proactive and holistic. The global wellness industry is valued over $3.7 trillion, according to a wellness trend report by Welltodo. In 2015, the global workplace wellness industry was already worth $43.3 billion. The global spa industry was valued between $94 to $98.6 billion.

Wellness tourism is on the rise as well, valued between $494.1 billion to $563.2 billion.  Lastly, apps for meditation, relaxation and mood management such as Headspace, Calm, and Moodpath are also gaining following among consumers.Companies are investing on their employees’ health and well-being and acknowledging the fact that a healthy employee is a productive employee. Additionally, spas and wellness centers are also flourishing.

With access to information, consumers are now more knowledgeable about well-being and how it’s beneficial to the different aspects of their lives. Social media and its bevy of influencers, are also contributing to this wellness growth. All of these developments are consistent with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

But there is still a lot that needs to be done. According to a 2016 study conducted by WHO, in cooperation with global health agencies, 38% of employees suffer from excessive pressure on the job. Just as industries and companies are establishing programs and projects for people’s health, individuals should equally take steps for their own well-being.

Self-Care Tips

Here are 7 self-care tips to help us achieve better well-being:

1. Plan a self-care regimen before the need arises.

Taking care of our health is akin to owning a car. Car owners would not want their automobiles to stall in the middle of the road, This is why they set a scheduled routine check. Likewise, setting aside time for self-care will serve as our “routine health check.”

2. Find a self-care regimen that works for you. 

Self-care varies from person to person. Create a self-care kit that includes a set of activities for physical, emotional, mental, and social wellness. It doesn’t have to be grand like going on a vacation. Self-care can be as simple as being lost in a good book or watching videos of cute puppies on the internet.

self care meditation in the sunlight

3. Set a routine for yourself.

This allows you to have a sense of control especially at times when you feel low. Being able to follow this routine—even if you feel like opting out—will give you a sense of accomplishment. This will help shift your eyes from your struggles to your personal triumphs.

4. Recognize your personal signs of burnout and keep an eye on patterns.

Burnout occurs because of stress build-up. If signs are showing up frequently, it’s time for you to whip up your self-care kit. Are headaches becoming more frequent these past few days? Maybe it is time for a relaxing detox bath.

5. Channel excess energies by being creative.

You can paint, keep a journal, or try baking. The idea is to take your mind off your worries and be immersed in projects. Completing creative projects will give you a sense of accomplishment.

6. Get enough sleep.

Having enough snooze time helps repair our cells and tissues. Sleep also helps curb inflammation which has been linked to harmful diseases like stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. Research also shows that our brain is most active and creative during sleep. So sleeping on a difficult problem will allow your brain to get that much needed rest, and hopefully find the right solution.

7. Get it off your chest.

Keeping things to yourself can wear you out. Find a confidante to whom you can connect and communicate. This will help to clear your perspective and release tension. Talking about the problem may also help you look at the issue from a different angle.

It is smart to care for yourself. You have to remember that if you fail to take care of yourself, no one else will. Ultimately, the ability to contribute the best ideas, deliver the best performance, and engage more with the people around us happens when we feel good.

About the Author

Imee Rabang is a blogger/writer and bilingual poet from Manila, Philippines. She is an advocate of Philippine culture and supports causes that promote language and national identity. She juggles her time between work, parenthood, and community outreach programs. She also dabbles in photography and graphic arts in her free time.
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