September is the ideal time to prioritize “me time”, as it is National Self-Care Awareness Month. While it's easy to get caught up in the demands of others, it's essential for your mental health to practice self-care. Self-care is often described as a set of activities to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being. Many readers of our weekly columns take care of other people. When you can't take care of yourself, it's almost impossible to take care of others.
So, what does self-care involve? It means taking the time to do things that help you live well and enhance your physical and mental health. Even the smallest acts of self-care in everyday life can have a big impact. I'm often asked for advice on self-care, which can vary from person to person. Consider relaxation or wellness programs and apps that may include meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other calming activities that you can enjoy.
Decide what needs to be done now and what can wait. Learn to say NO (this is very important) if you feel overwhelmed. At the end of the day, reflect on what you have accomplished and not on what remains to be done. Remind yourself every day of all that you are grateful for. Reach out to friends or family for emotional and spiritual support. Take time to discover what makes you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and calm.
Maybe you'll even post this column on the fridge and turn it into your daily self-care list. September is Self-Care Awareness Month, which I only recently learned when I was years old. Better late than never, right? I'm having trouble keeping track of the current month, let alone knowing what “awareness month” it is, but I digress. Some of my self-care is rooted in yogic and Ayurvedic philosophies developed in ancient India thousands of years ago. Self-care is one of those phrases that has come to mean many things that may or may not have anything to do with caring for oneself, or as I like to say, with being a parent.
If self-care is something that is unfamiliar to you, it's the first thing you lose when life gets tough, or if you think it's silly, perhaps Self-Care Awareness Month is a great excuse for you to pay some attention to yourself. By Erlene Grise-Owens, EdD, LCSW, MSW, MRE, co-lead editor of The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals. True self-care isn't selfish or self-centered; it's simply about keeping the focus on your own life. None of these things are better or more important than the others, but maybe the thought of getting a massage really makes you anxious because you would rather not have a stranger touch your bare skin for whatever reason. Take advantage of the month of September to make self-care part of your daily routine; practice how to be good to yourself. Since its inception, this blog has discussed a variety of topics that inform and promote comprehensive and expansive self-care. Grise-Owens is the lead editor of The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals. Follow Evolve live on Instagram and Facebook to participate in the 30-day self-care awareness challenge.
Evolve to Live founded Self-Care Awareness Month to raise awareness of the incredible benefits of individual self-care. The calendar (below) provides a daily dose of self-care, with a link to a short blog post to expand your understanding of self-care and how to incorporate it into your lifestyle. The sample of publications used in this calendar represents a wide repository of resources to support self-care. The WHO defines self-care as individuals, families and communities promoting and maintaining their own health, preventing diseases and dealing with illness and disability, with or without the support of a health worker.