Self-Care in 2021 February 11, 2021 Self-care used to be viewed as an indulgence and it was not something people really spoke about. Fast-forward to 2021 - We’ve all heard of it, some say we’re advocates of it, but do we really know what ‘self-care’ is and how to practice it? There’s been an increase in awareness around mental health due to the many trials the world experienced in 2020. In the most basic sense of the word, self-care is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. You can start 2021 by redefining self-care. Self-care is not only making time to take a nap, practicing meditation, or taking time for you — although all those things count. Self-care is so much more! It is very personal, your best self-care routine truly depends on what your needs are. To best determine your best self-care regimen, focus on getting back into your “window of tolerance” – a place where you feel cool, calm, collected, easy, connected, and just generally OK. When in your “window of tolerance”, that’s where you make good decisions and set good boundaries. You sleep well, digest well, feel reasonable, and function well. How can you start setting goals for self-care in 2021? Ask yourself a couple questions to get yourself on track to creating self-care goals. How am I doing with my physical health? Do you need a check-in or some care? Whether you did this last year or not, 2021 is a great opportunity to continue taking charge of your well-being or to start thinking about it more. When you take care of yourself, you are more equipped to be there for others and the things you're passionate about. How am I doing with my mental health? After a year like 2020, studies have shown that people screening with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety has continued to increase throughout 2020 and remains higher than rates prior to COVID-19. “Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being,” according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. So, what can you do to support your mental health? Make it a point to keep up regular appointments with your therapist. If you don't have one and think you can benefit from therapy, contact LifeWays for ways to support your mental health and to receive a pre-screening for next steps in your mental health journey. How am I doing with restfulness? Are you getting too much or too little sleep? If this is an area that needs support, take time to build goals around focusing on areas of your life that will better promote restfulness. What can I do that brings me Joy? Are you taking time for hobbies or healthy activities? What are things you can do to bring you joy or keep your mind active? Is it time to look at the relationships in my life? There's no doubt that 2020 changed the way we interact with others. Even though everyone has a different situation, now might be a good time to look at the relationships in your life. How can you strengthen them this year? Do some need boundaries, and how can you create them? How can you check in on the people you love? What can you do to open yourself up to the possibility of meeting new people? How can I be more generous? Generosity is that idea that you go out and help someone else, maybe sacrificing a bit of yourself to help others, very often when you engage in an act of generosity, you walk away feeling like you got more out of it than you gave. This can be by volunteering, going on a mission trip, or even a simple or random act of kindness. What ways can you “pay it forward” in 2021? What can I do that feeds my spirit? Spirituality can be a vital way to draw strength that varies in different traditions, cultures, and practices. What is something outside of yourself that makes your spirit soar? You can also feed your soul with a practice known as mindfulness or by practicing gratitude and writing down what you are thankful for. Practicing gratitude can change the chemical makeup of your brain and make you a more positive and happier person! There are boundless ways to build on self-care in 2020. Ultimately comes down to setting priorities, setting boundaries, and finding purpose in what you love and do. Bringing more activities and practices that build up your resilience and take you to your “window of tolerance” - a place where you feel calm and generally ok – are all great places to start. If you need more support for self-care ideas or if you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety or depression, you are not alone! LifeWays is here 24/7 with our Access/Crisis Phoneline at 1 (800) 284-8288. Hope and help begin at LifeWays.