Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
It is important for individuals to make self-care a priority throughout their lives, Janette Wheat, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) professor and Cooperative Extension Program human development specialist, said.
“Self-care should not be overlooked or ignored – it is one of the cornerstones of an individual’s well-being,” she said. “It is important for maintaining our mental, physical and spiritual health. Making self-care a priority goes a long way in ensuring our overall health and happiness.”
But what exactly is self-care? Dr. Wheat said self-care refers to an individual putting their needs first. When a person prioritizes their own mental health and well-being, they are then better able to function in other spheres of their lives such as at home or in the office.”
“Some people may worry whether self-care is selfish, but that is not the case” she said. “Improving yourself and your own well-being does not have to come at the cost of others. By working on your own inner peace, you will likely find that you are better able to function in your relationships with family members, friends or coworkers.”
Dr. Wheat said self-care comes in many forms, and it is up to individuals to decide what suits them best.
“Practicing self-care can be as simple as going out for a walk, taking a relaxing drive, reading a good book or putting on your favorite music,” she said. “Some may plan a special activity such as getting a massage or meeting an old friend for lunch.”
Other self-care activities can be practiced regularly, over long periods of time. For example, individuals can work on maintaining healthy eating patterns, exercising regularly, practicing personal hygiene and following a consistent sleep schedule. Paying bills on time and putting money into savings can be considered forms of financial self-care, while decluttering the house and monitoring time on social media are forms of environmental self-care.
“Meditation is an important practice that improves mental and overall well-being when practiced regularly,” Dr. Wheat said. “Taking a few minutes each day to quiet your mind can build self-awareness and stress-management skills and increase patience and productivity.”
Dr. Wheat also recommends that individuals try journaling to monitor their progress and relieve stress. Keeping a reflective journal can help document the small steps being taken every day to ensure someone’s internal harmony.
“Some people may like to make a list of the ways they would like to practice self-care for the rest of the year,” she said. “Remember that the list can be composed of both simple, everyday activities, as well as planned special occasions. For example, having a cup of tea every morning can bring a sense of calm, while going to an occasional concert or movie can bring some excitement and variation into our life.”
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