When was the last time you did something nice just for yourself? If your answer is, “I can’t remember”, then you are long overdue for self-care. This is especially important for seniors who are the primary caregivers for their spouse or have childminding responsibilities. Taking care of yourself is an essential part of staying mentally, emotionally and physically healthy and not fall prey to stress and anxiety of having long-term responsibilities.
Self care is about being good to yourself. For so many of us, our lives are so consumed with the responsibility of caring for others that the concept of ‘me first’ can be alien and repulsive.
The key elements of self-care are to engage in activities that will lead to rest and relaxation as these will serve the purpose of recharging our batteries. It is important to be intentional about self-care, that is, self-care should be practiced daily. The Canadian Mental Health Association offers the following ways to practice self-care:
Eat well: Do you find yourself preparing meals that your spouse, children or grandchildren likes? Change that by asking yourself, what do I like to eat?
Sleep well: Having a good night’s sleep is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. Do everything you possibly can to sleep well.
Exercise: Find a physical activity that you love to do and stick to it. Or incorporate movement in your daily chores. Wherever possible, walk instead of drive, park far away, stand instead of sit, in short, keep that body moving.
Connect with others: Having a supportive social circle is critical to our mental and emotional health. Be the one who stays in touch and who participates in group activities.
Slow down and smell the roses: Practicing mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. For example, when washing vegetables, focus on the task at hand instead of thinking about the next 25 things that need to be done! When practiced regularly, the mental health benefits of mindfulness will become obvious.