Self Care 101: Why Self-Care is Important & 8 Easy and Free Self-Care Ideas

by Vickie Louise

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Stressed? Tempted to just keep going? Don’t. Take some time out to practice self-care.

We know that practicing self-care can be far from easy, but it’s so important to make sure you take good care of your body, mind, and soul every day

Self-care is vital to healthy living on so many levels. It helps us to become the optimum version of ourselves. Self-care is essential for both mental and physical wellness. It fosters a healthy lifestyle, which ensures that your body functions optimally.

Self-care involves self-love, self-respect, self-awareness, and self-understanding. In other words, it involves doing what you feel is right for you and your health. 

Find out if you are guilty of self-neglect by learning the signs and symptoms that you need some self-care, learn some awesome ways to practice self-care, why journaling is fantastic for self-care, and 3 brilliant books that I recommend you read.

Plus find self-care activities that you can do even with a busy schedule and eight that won’t cost you a penny!

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Signs and Symptoms You Need More Self Care 

For a lot of people, it isn’t always easy to know that they are experiencing the negative effects of self-neglect.

It can happen very easily to anyone when they have life elements like children, financial issues, feelings of inadequacy, or physical problems. Fortunately, your mind and body have a lot of built-in tells that alerts you to the fact that there’s some kind of deficiency. Here are some signs and symptoms that we recommend you watch out for:

1. You’re Irritable Often

When you’re in need of more self-care, it’s a lot easier to be upset or disgruntled. This is because the toll of going without what you need is beginning to weigh in on you, and the resentment that you feel has begun to slowly carve itself into other areas in life.

Being mindful of what is actually bothering you will help you to focus on correcting the problem. This can be especially true of long-term romantic relationships.

2. You’re Late Often

The tendency to be late can be caused by two main things, which are: the need to squeeze ore into an unreasonably short time or the need procrastinate because you never feel as if you rest completely.

One example of this can be seen in the habit of waking up with less time to get ready and trying to complete projects that required more time to plan. If you are the kind of person who listens to the alarm more than once, then you could be doing serious damage to your restfulness because you are waking up every few minutes instead of sleeping without interruption.

3. You Have Panic Attacks

Stress can build up in the body and cause it to have strange symptoms. If unchecked they can manifest into more serious conditions over time. Panic attacks are often the result of stress carried for long periods without relief or any sort of outlet.

4. You Struggle to Relax

How good at relaxing are you?

If you have trouble relaxing, it could mean that you need to spend more time relaxing. It can also mean that you have a lot of open projects going on that doesn’t seem to have an end.

Try to designate a day where you take actual time to not have to do anything. Make it your time to sit without having to worry about completing anything.

Ways to Practice Self-Care

With so many demands placed on us each day, we must take the time to ensure that we are healthy and happy. And to accomplish the many tasks put before us, we first must ensure our own physical and mental well-being.

You can’t count on having other people to help with your well-being, so you must have a daily plan. You might think that having a plan for your own self-care is a waste of time, but by taking care of your body and mind, you can avoid additional mental or health problems in the future.

There are many ways you can practice self-care, use these as guidelines to improve the way that you feel:

1. Taking Care of Your Body

Self-care begins with taking care of our physical body. Be sure to eat well, as this is the first step toward good physical health.

A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean sources of protein provides the body with necessary nutrients as well as energy to tackle each day.

Increasing your water intake will contribute to increasing your physical health, by keeping the body well hydrated, and helping to flush unwanted toxins from the system.

You should also aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night, which will ensure you are rested enough to make it through your day.

2. Taking Care of Your Mind

Taking care of your mind is also an important factor in self-care. Getting enough sleep is also helpful in this regard, as it allows you to think more clearly, and make better, more sound decisions.

Stress is a part of life, but you don’t have to let it get the better of you. Meditation, quiet reflection, prayer, and mantras are all tools you can use to calm a racing, agitated mind. Remind yourself that you’ve survived difficulties in the past and that you can do so again.

If your thoughts are especially troubling, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to someone you trust, whether it’s a friend, a religious leader, or a counselor.

3. Spend Time with People You Care About

Often, we get so wrapped up in our to-do lists that we forget to make time for the important people in our lives. Family and friends help to ground us, offering their love and support when we need them most.

Remember that self-care also involves spending time with the people who matter most to you. Pick up the phone and call up an old friend, and indulge in a great conversation. Reconnect with your spouse or significant other, your children, or whoever is most valuable to you. These connections are vital.

4. Use a Calendar to Keep Track of Self-care

The best way to keep track of self-care is by having a calendar to schedule the times and days for appointments or other activities.

Why Journaling Is Awesome for Self Care?

Writing in a journal is a frequently-recommended form of self-care. But what exactly makes journaling so great? A lot, as it turns out. You can manage your emotions, plan your future, and work on improving your self-talk – all with something as simple as a notebook and a pen.

Here are five of the most compelling reasons you should be journaling as a form of self-care.

1. It Helps You Work Through Your Feelings

Emotions are unruly. And when your feelings are all tangled up in a messy, confusing ball, trying to make sense of them can be exhausting. Journaling is a great tool for unraveling those tangled emotions and getting to the bottom of them.

When you sit down and pour your feelings onto the page, it becomes easier to distinguish between them and see what’s really going on. That, in turn, will help you manage your emotions more effectively and make better decisions.

2. Explore Your Dreams for the Future

When you’re preoccupied with the demands of life, it’s easy to get stuck in the moment and forget to dream about the future. If you’ve stopped making plans for what you want your life to be like five years from now, keeping a journal can help you start dreaming and setting goals again.

With your journal, take fifteen minutes to reflect on what kind of life you want to live in a year, five years, or ten years. Use your answers to help guide your decisions in the present.

3. You Can Show Your Gratitude

Keeping a gratitude journal can have a transformative effect on your life. Regularly reminding yourself what you’re grateful for is a fantastic act of self-care – it’s good for your mental health, and it helps you feel happier and more optimistic on a day-to-day basis.

Before you go to bed every night, try jotting down five things you felt grateful for over the course of the day.

4. Journaling Helps You Calm Your Mind

If you feel anxious, panicky, or overwhelmed, spending a few minutes with your journal can help you calm down and get some perspective. Responsibilities, deadlines, and worries can all seem enormous when they’re trapped in your mind.

When you write your anxieties down on paper, though, they become much easier to manage. Even if your schedule is packed, taking a few minutes out of your busy day to journal, will help you keep your stress levels down.

5. You Will Be Kinder to Yourself

Journaling helps you find patterns – both positive and negative – in the way you think. If you notice that you tend to be self-critical in your entries, try consciously switching your tone to be self-compassionate instead.

Rather than writing about how you did something wrong, make a note about what you did right, and frame your mistakes as things you want to improve in the future.

Journaling is a super simple – but HIGHLY effective – form of self-care. It puts you in touch with your innermost thoughts and emotions, and it helps you tweak your thought patterns to be more mindful and productive. The best part? You just need a notebook and pen to reap all the benefits of journaling.

3 Books That are Great for Self Care

There are many things you can do to empower yourself and promote personal wellness. Reading uplifting books is often neglected as an important part of a self-care routine.

Here are three books that I think are great for self-care.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Don’t let the title of this book fool you. It isn’t a manual for oil painting. Julia Cameron wrote this book over 25 years ago in an effort to help creative people focus on their wellness. The great thing about the book is that you don’t have to be an artist to benefit from Cameron’s wisdom.

Cameron advocates setting aside personal time for journaling and for what she calls a weekly “artist date.” Her conviction is that individuals must learn how to reconnect with their imaginative inner child.

What she suggests makes sense. As we grow older there is a tendency to let adulting overwhelm us to the point that we sacrifice joy.

Personal Power by Anthony Robbins

Tony Robbins has become the premier motivator of our modern society. His rise to fame began with Personal Power, a book that still forms the core philosophy of Robbins’ motivational seminars. It is a complete course in learning how to shift your mindset into a positive direction that will help you achieve important goals.

The right mindset is an important part of self-care. In this classic book, Robbins discusses his own take on neuro-linguistic programming or NLP. Robbins adapted the principles of NLP into his own system which stresses taking personal responsibility for one’s growth and development.

Reading the book might not inspire you to make the fire walk that is a staple of Robbins’ seminars, but it will challenge the way you think about how you are mentally framing your life experience.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Dr. Stephen R. Covey was a master on the art of self-care and left behind an impressive literary legacy when he passed away in 2012. This book was his most important work. Covey walks the reader through a list of seven things that become habits of those who succeed in life.

One of the best things this book can teach us is how positive habits are cultivated and formed. Covey not only explains the principles of success but gives a detailed explanation and action plan that will help the reader create the habit. The book also reinforces the notion that successful people share common traits. As Robbins also suggests, modeling those who have mastered the art of living is an effective way to proceed on one’s own life journey.

Taking a few moments each day for reading is something you deserve. It will help you to realize that working on your wellness should be a priority. Start small if you must and read for a few minutes. Work on lengthening your reading sessions each day. Reading can also help you disconnect from things like social media and television in order to cultivate stillness of mind.

How to Practice Self Care with a Busy Schedule

I know, you’re are a busy person with a packed schedule, but that shouldn’t prevent you from self-care. So on that note, here are few ideas on how to practice self-care with a busy schedule.

Try A Lunch Break

If you’re self-employed, you may have gotten used to working straight through your day. Sometimes desperate times call for some intense methods, but cutting yourself off from nourishment, even just for a few hours can have devastating effects on your health.

Take a real break during lunch so that you can eat and digest your food properly. You could even set an alarm so that you can lie back and take a power nap for a few minutes.

Learn to Accept Help

If you’re used to being in control of everything all of the time, it can be extremely tiring, and If you’re a person who is interested in becoming a better leader, than it’s essential that you learn to delegate a few things, This helps to get a few pieces of the puzzle out from in front of you so that you can attend to other more important tasks.

It’s necessary to allow people to help you with those things even when they aren’t exactly the help you were looking for. It’s better to focus on the more important things.

Avoid Negative People

This one is simple, avoid negative people. They can put bad thoughts in your mind that make you second guess yourself and cause problems with your confidence. Nothing is really worse than that.

Take Time to Breathe

Deep breathing is responsible for a large portion of your heart health. If you become a habitual shallow breather, then you can give yourself panic attacks. This is because quick breathing sends signals to the brain that the body is in danger.

This perpetual fight or flight response takes a toll on the body over time, and can even shorten your lifespan, so it’s important to keep track of how often, and how deeply you breathe.

8 Self Care Activities That Don’t Cost You Anything

Self Explanatory, these eight easy self-care activities you can try (that won’t cost you anything):

Go for a Walk

Thirty minutes of walking does wonders to improve a person’s well-being. You can take a quick lap or two around the neighborhood during lunch, or you can explore your favorite park on a rainy day. Either way, exercise is a tried and true self-care technique and comes with the added bonus of health benefits.

Read a Book

Reading books is another great way to decompress and relieve stress. Local libraries have plenty of reading areas to enjoy your favorite topics. And, unlike television or radio, reading requires your full attention, meaning you can minimize distractions more easily and become fully focused on the topic at hand.

Isolate Yourself

Sometimes it’s helpful to be in a quiet location to gather your thoughts. Isolation can help you do this: for thirty minutes, find an empty room at your home or workplace that’s free from distractions or other people. Don’t do anything for the thirty minutes; just contemplate everything on your mind. By spending time with yourself you may find it easier to get answers to your most pressing questions at hand.

Hug Someone Close to You

A hug only takes a moment, but in that time a lot of things happen in your body. The most notable of these things is that your body releases hormones that can help relax you. Doctors have done numerous studies on the benefits of human contact, and report that hugs can actually help you to live a healthier, longer life than people who go without them completely.

Hang Out with A Pet

Spending time with a beloved cat, dog or other pet might be the best activity for self-care. If you spend time with a pet, it can lower your blood pressure and protect your organs from the small amounts of damage that are caused by continuous high blood pressure over a sustained period. Larger animals will also help to keep you fit when you have to take them out for long walks, and they’ll enjoy it more than staying in your yard.

Write it Down

As we discussed above, journaling is a huge help when it comes to self-care. Writing down your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis is another great self-care technique that allows you to vent in a creative manner. You can even come back to old writings and learn about yourself at a particular moment in time.

In addition to writing, drawing also does wonders for self-care. Take some paper and sketch what’s on your mind–you might be surprised at what comes out!

Take a Warm Shower

Another self-care technique you can try is a nice, long shower. There’s something therapeutic about taking a shower: feeling the warm water against your skin, hearing the water hit the tub, smelling the soap…and knowing you’ll be clean at the end of it! Spend thirty minutes with the suds and refresh your mind while you’re there.

Listen to Music

Got a favorite song you like to listen to? Then put on some headphones and have at it! Listening to music is another free self-care activity that can get you through the day. Music has a way of evoking emotions we try to keep hidden in ourselves. But by letting them come to the forefront, we can actually detox and feel better afterward.

People need outlets for channeling whatever they’re feeling at a particular time in order to remain balanced. But sometimes we aren’t always able to make use of these outlets due to money, time constraints, or obligations to others.

The best way to take care of others is to take care of yourself. So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, give these self-care activities a try or, better yet, take a day to combine them all. Small actions often make the biggest impact.

BONUS: Simple Acts of Self Care I Enjoy and I’m Sure You Will Too!

  1. Enjoying a hot shower or bath at the end of a tiring day, to allow tight muscles to relax, and prepare your body for rest.
  2. Burning candles or use aromatherapy oils to fill your home with a soothing scent you enjoy.
  3. Curling up on your sofa with a good book or magazine you’ve been meaning to read.

These are small things that don’t take much in terms of time or money, but they can make a big difference in how you feel. 

If you found these self-care tips and activities helpful, please share them on Pinterest!

Why Self-Care is Important & 8 Easy and Free Self-Care Ideas

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