Self Care Is Not Selfish

Rachel Brown, In-Depth Editor

As a community, we often put the needs of others before our own. When we are actively supporting others, taking a step back at times and caring for ourselves is vital. This idea of self-care has been brought to the forefront of society in recent years, paired with an increased focus on mental health. But it does not mean that other people’s needs become unimportant; rather, it involves being conscious of your own needs. Self-care, however, tends to be seen as a luxury rather than a priority.

“Self-care looks different for every person” James Madison counselor, T.J. Anderson said,“It is important, and hopefully fun to figure out what is restorative for you as an individual”.

Typically, bubble baths, face masks and massages come to mind when thinking of physical self-care. While these are valid examples, physical self-care encompasses larger concepts, which can involve working out, eating and sleeping well and practicing good hygiene.

Prepping meals the night before is a great way to ensure you are maintaining a well-balanced diet. Sleep is also a critical factor in helping our bodies function well. Despite often staying up late doing homework, getting at least eight hours of sleep a night will allow you to feel more energized for daily activities. Having good personal hygiene can boost self-esteem and confidence while also lowering the chances of illness.

“There are many tools students can use to incorporate self-care into their day,” Emily Steiner, a certified international yoga therapist said. Steiner continued, “There are several apps like The Breathing App and Headspace that students can use. Another tool is called H.A.L.T which can be used when you are feeling agitated at school”.

The acronym H.A.L.T first helps you to figure out why you are feeling a certain way, by asking if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Once you address the reason, you can then think of strategies to best counter it. This could be breathing techniques, stomping your feet, tapping your body with your hands, massaging your neck and using affirmations.

Emotional self-care enhances confidence when dealing with inevitable frustrating situations. If someone does not take adequate care of their emotional health, they may face mental, social and physical consequences. Practicing positive self-talk, meditating, journaling and choosing to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself are great ways to start your emotional self-care journey.

Steiner finished off by saying, “In a world where we are constantly being bombarded with information, it is important to take time to check in with ourselves and have tools to regulate our nervous system when needed, so that we can respond to life in a healthy manner”.