By Fred Standil
Student Services Advisor at Herzing College
The concept of self-care is a much-discussed topic both in academic circles and in wider society. In fact, never has it been more common for professionals, students, families, friends, and colleagues to talk about things we can all do to protect our well-being.
In many cases, we have practised self-care, perhaps unknowingly, for many years. We just haven’t classified it or been as cognizant of the benefits as we are today. One definition summarizes it as being a conscious decision to think, feel and behave in ways that promote physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.
Self-care requires us all to look inwards. We must have the will to prioritize putting ourselves at the top of our to-do lists. The essence of strong mental health is our capacity to perform at or near our peak limit on a consistent basis.
A quick examination of what much of our world prioritizes reveals many behaviours that are not conducive to well-being and the advancement of our communities. While I won’t get into that list in this entry, there is a seemingly endless number of examples that illustrate this reality.
Self-care demands that we confront our genuine feelings, sense of balance, and reserve of energy (both physical and emotional) as well as some key things such as our nutrition and sleeping patterns. Life can often seem to go by very quickly when we are firing on most or all cylinders.
Certainly, we all have our down moments and difficult things to navigate that can and do make the clock feel as if it is standing still. Regular self-care, when done conscientiously, can be likened to the fuel we put in vehicles.
The first question we must ask ourselves is “What am I feeling”? Once we’ve truthfully done our own personal inventories, we must continue to look inward and act upon whatever our needs are at any given time. A cynic might say that acting upon one’s needs in the moment is somewhat self-serving. While this is generally true, I am specifically referring to our own personal healthy routines which build us up without adversely affecting others.
The food for thought I will leave you with involves taking the time to generate your own very personal list of activities and behaviours that you know will provide you with ample fuel to tackle your daily challenges. Having done this many times before with students, I am confident that this list can and should be a lengthy one.
Look at it as a living document to be updated on a regular basis. As you discover new sources of energy that enhance your curiosity, knowledge bank, and sense of satisfaction, be sure to add them to your self-care list. Think of this as a tangible tool to draw upon as required.
For people who are disciplined in looking after themselves, such an inventory will provide plenty of alternatives which can be interchanged in order to prevent too much monotony.