Happy Patient Experience Week! We want to thank all of you who volunteer your time to improve health care in BC. Volunteering is a selfless act and we know that it can sometimes take a toll on patient partners, especially when it involves sharing personal experiences. That’s why we’ll be publishing a series of posts about self-care this week, as caring for yourself is not only very important for your own health and well-being, but it also helps you care for others too!
We know that sometimes life can get overwhelming, stress can build up and we can stop doing the things that make us happy so that we can tackle an ever-growing to-do list instead. Pushing ourselves may seem like a solution but, just like we need to re-fuel a car, we need to take the time and energy to re-charge ourselves. This is where the importance of self-care comes in – it can help you refocus, cope with stress and feel better in all aspects of life.
How to get started with self-care
Many scientific studies have proved that taking a few minutes a day to do something you like can improve your health, your mood, your productivity and even the way you engage and care for others. After all, an empty cup can’t fill up others, right? So sit back, relax and take some precious moments to focus on yourself and your well-being. And if you need a little help to get started, we put together a list of tips inspired by information from the University of Calgary(1) and the School of Social Work at the State University of New York(2) to help you start practicing self-care on a regular basis:
Evaluate your coping strategies: What do you do now to manage the stress in your life? Analyzing your current coping strategies and whether they’re good for your well-being is the first important step on your self-care process. If you rely on cigarettes or drinks to cope, for example, it may be time to find other ways.
Determine the type of self-care you need: Self-care can be physical, such as exercising or getting a pedicure; mental, such as writing a journal or turning off your phone for a while; or emotional, like meditating or spending quality time with friends. What does your body need the most right now? Are you feeling physically tired or are you stressed out? Considering your needs and feelings can help you choose the best self-care activity for the moment.
Find out what makes you happy: If you don’t like journaling or lifting weights, for example, don’t push yourself to do these activities as a form of self-care, as you’ll only start dreading them and not get the benefits. Self-care must be something that makes you happy, helps you relax and that you look forward to.
Plan ahead: We have the tendency to push ourselves back, so don’t just wait for some free time to magically show up on your schedule – make it happen! Set up some me-time on your calendar and treat yourself as a priority, even if it’s for just a few minutes. And once you set up time on your schedule, let everybody else know that it’s your special time and you don’t want to be interrupted.
Don’t be afraid to say no: It’s impossible to please everybody all the time. Learning to say no sometimes can help you focus on what is important, reduce your stress levels and feel good about yourself.
Try new things: Learning is what keeps us alive and thriving at any age! If you’re curious about learning to swim or starting a new craft, for example, give it a try. Who knows, you might find a new passion!
Practice self-compassion: We strive to treat our friends and family with kindness and compassion, but we often forget to give ourselves the same treatment, being overly self-critical and harsh. Practicing self-compassion means treating yourself with kindness and acceptance, and it’s probably the most important part of any self-care routine.
Let’s get started!
We hope you find these tips useful and that you take some time this week to take special care of yourself! Stay tuned for more self-care blog posts, and please, share your tips and questions with us in the comment session – we look forward to hearing from you!
- Self-Care Starter Kit [Internet]. University of Calgary. [cited 2019 April 23]. Available from: https://www.ucalgary.ca/wellbeing/files/wellbeing/self-care-starter-kit.pdf
- School of Social Work [Internet]. The State University of New York. [cited 2019 April 23]. Available from: http://socialwork.buffalo.edu/resources/self-care-starter-kit/developing-your-self-care-plan.html