How often do you really spend time taking care of yourself? According to recent Medibank data1, one in two Australians believe they don’t practise self-care enough. Whether we can’t find the time (39%) or simply feel guilty about taking ‘me time’ (45%), it’s clear self-care isn’t always a top priority.
But with nearly 84% of those surveyed agreeing that even the smallest, healthy actions can make a world of difference to how they feel, shouldn’t we be taking the concept a little more seriously?
What is self-care?
Self-care involves taking care of you and your wellbeing. Because the name implies it’s all about you, many people see self-care as self-indulgent or selfish — but it shouldn’t be. Self-care can be closely likened to self-compassion, which is something many of us find difficult to do in our busy lives. Self-compassion encourages us to treat ourselves as we would a good friend and to be more mindful of how we use our time.
The benefits of self-care and self-compassion make for a compelling case. Practising self-care may help you to feel more aware of your emotions and responses to certain situations — which may in turn support your overall mental wellbeing.
The rules of self-care
There are three key rules which can help you to establish your self-care strategy:
- Self-care is different for everyone: We all have different interests and different activities that make us feel good, so it’s important to spend some time working out what’s right for you, whether it’s running a bath or going for a walk.
- Be focused: Write a list of all the little rituals which make you feel good, then choose the top three which you know will be easiest to turn into habits. Focus on these.
- Work out what you don’t like to do and create some boundaries: Really don’t like going out on Sunday nights? Hate checking your emails after hours? While writing a list of the things you like doing, also write down the things you don’t, and create some boundaries around these.
How to self-care
If you’re feeling a little lost and are not sure what kind of self-care strategies could work for you, here are some great ways to bring a little more ‘me time’ into your life.
Give your mind some space
Do you ever take time out to give your mind space? Studies have shown meditation can reduce stress2, improve sleep3 and even help support our relationships4. For some people, the idea of meditating can be daunting, but luckily there are many different ways to meditate. Why not try an app which offers guidance like Smiling Mind, or a moving meditation, like going for a walk and focusing on your breath.
More and more research5 points to a link between a happy gut and a happy mind. Taking care of yourself through eating well — and enjoying what you eat — is important. A diet rich in wholegrains, loads of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as small amounts of lean meat, fish and dairy is the best way to fuel your body.
The benefits of physical activity for our health and wellbeing are well-documented, so try incorporating some kind of exercise into your self-care routine. Keeping in line with the self-care philosophy, make sure you choose something that you enjoy. Even something as simple as walking can offer a myriad of benefits, from boosting your brain function to releasing a wave of our feel good hormones.
Spending quality time with people you love is a great way to incorporate some self-care into your life. Research suggests6 that social isolation can be a risk factor for your health, and that staying connected socially could even be linked to a longer life.
To really get connected, try incorporating your loved ones into some of your self-care activities — that way, you’ll feel even better by being able to share the joy with someone else.
Did you know eligible Medibank members can earn rewards with the Medibank Live Better App? Like a gift card from our partners, simply by looking after their health and wellbeing.
Download the Medibank Live Better App to set your self-care goals and start earning points today.