One aspect of self-care that’s often forgotten is how to solve long term problems. When people try to engage in self-care, the focus is usually on one or two things that they think will help them feel a little better in that moment.
They don’t appropriately plan for anything else going in the future. This can lead to ineffectiveness over time, because you’re still burdened with the same issues, despite the short term self care efforts.
When people think they’re engaging in self-care, it tends to be pretty surface-level stuff that doesn’t help a whole lot in the long run. It’ll be something like taking a long bath with some relaxing music or eating a healthy meal that day.
While these things will help, they’re very short term options. They’re great to do on a weekly basis to help decompress or let go of some stress, but if it’s just something that is done every now and then, it hardly helps at all.
Consistency is the key to long term self-care. Even if they are little things like relaxing baths, as long as it is done on a consistent basis, long term results are likely.
This is what sets your self-care routine apart from the ones that just give you some temporary relief. As long as you can keep up with your routine and don’t stop doing it, you’ll be able to better work out your problems.
Another important thing to remember is that while doing the simple, small things is a good start, it’s not enough to sustain you for a long period of time. Pair these types of activities with something more serious in order to improve in more areas with more efficiency over a period of time.
The main thing to take away is that you can’t expect to solve deep-rooted issues in your life with something that simple. It would be nice if that were the case, but unfortunately a lot more effort is required to properly rid yourself of not only one or two problems you’re facing, but a multitude of life issues.
Short term measures like that will only scratch the surface of your problems, addressing your symptoms but not the actual issue itself, leaving you vulnerable to being affected by it again and again. If you want to properly stop that cycle, you’ll need to dig a lot deeper.
An often-overlooked aspect of self-care is developing something that caters to your specific needs, which all begins with self-awareness. You could pick up a random self-care routine, and it might help a bit, but if you want to see the best results, you need to be create a plan to specifically address your own issues.
You can’t even start to plan that until you know what those problems are. By being more self-aware, you’ll be able to easily pinpoint the root of your problems and continue on to build a plan to address that.
The first and most important step is identification. This means taking an honest, hard look at your life and figuring out what it is that you’re not happy with. It could be anything.
You might not be confident in your figure, you might dislike your job, you might be struggling emotionally, and so on. Don’t be afraid to get a little bit critical with yourself during this time.
This is a time for honesty, not comfort. Once you know what the problem is, though, it’s time to dig a little bit deeper. The next step is analysis. At this point, you know what your problems are in your life, but that’s about it.
By looking closer at your problems, you should try to analyze what it is that’s causing these problems to appear in the first place. Take, for example, you not liking your job. That sounds simple enough on the surface, but by digging deeper, you’ll recognize that there are more varied reasons for this.
You might feel unfulfilled in your potential, or you might feel as though you’ve gone down a path you regret. Or it may be something simpler like the hours that you have to work or a bad coworker.
It’s these things that you want to start to know more about. Just knowing what the problem is in your life isn’t necessarily all that helpful. You want to know what’s causing the problem to exist in the first place so that you can treat it at the root level.
Much like a weed growing in your yard, you don’t just want to cut the visible part away - you want to uproot the whole thing so that it doesn’t come back. Knowing what your problems are (and what’s causing them) allows you to start down a path of rebuilding for a better life.
You can formulate a self-care plan specifically to help address these big issues and help better your life in the long run. Too many people use self-care as a Band-Aid, but you want a long-term solution, so make sure you engage in awareness and analysis before you initiate a plan for your self-care.
A common misconception about self-care is that it’s always just relaxing and soothing. That’s not necessarily the case. In fact, if you’re always just relaxing, you need to adjust your self-care strategies a bit.
Some parts of self-care are going to be uncomfortable and difficult, but it’ll never be destructive. Even if self-care can be hard, it’s only ever done with the intention of helping you improve yourself.
For example, if you’re used to a pretty sedentary lifestyle, you might think self-care is just relaxing a bit more. Possibly at worst eating some better foods, but never anything too strenuous.
In reality, self-care for you would be getting out of your comfort zone and exercising to become more active. It’s not going to be a comfortable or enjoyable transition, but it’s helping you improve, and would be your ideal form of self-care.
This same idea can be applied to those who work too often. Some people are just addicted to working and refuse to give themselves enough downtime to process things and relax.
For them, self-care would be more focused on relaxing and enjoying themselves. They’d want to go back to work, but they would have to stay at home and find something to do as a hobby, something enjoyable.
Mental health is another part of self-help that might not be as enjoyable as you’d think it will be. You might be imagining taking a mental health day and just not stressing out about things too much, but it can often go a bit deeper than that. You’ll probably have to sit down at some point and think hard about what it is in your life that’s stressing you out - what’s causing you to feel the way you do.
This can be an uncomfortable and deep look into your own mind, so it’s certainly not a cakewalk. Don’t go into self-care with the idea that you’re just going to get to relax. Of course relaxation is an important part of it, but that’s not all it is.
At the end of the day, it’s about bettering yourself, and you can’t expect to improve by just staying stagnant. You need to face up to some less than desirable realities and realize that you’re going to be confronted with some unnerving situations. As long as you can push through these, though, you’ll come out on the other side a better person all around.