“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” –Jean Shinoda Bolen
Most of us have experienced a sense of depletion at some point in our lives, that feeling of being tapped out and having nothing left to give—perhaps from too many bad dates, too many hours at the office, or too much pressure to “have it all.” Burnout can negatively affect not only the way you feel about yourself, but your relationships with almost everyone around you.
One of the most effective and worthwhile ways to improve not only your well-being, but your relationships with others, is to practice self-care on a regular basis. Self-care is described as intentionally taking action to improve your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It’s investing in yourself. Self-care can look many different ways for different people. However, it all comes down to taking care of you.
How Self-Care Strengthens Relationships
The first thing to understand about self-care is to acknowledge that self-care is a constant effort, in which you continually invest in yourself. Doing so cultivates good habits that extend into other avenues of life, including into your relationships. It’s important to take self-care seriously. According to Cindy Norton, a licensed relationship therapist, taking care of ourselves allows us to become more rested, patient, understanding, and more available to others. Being in a balanced space has the power to strengthen unity within a relationship.
What Self-Care Can Teach You About Yourself
Self-care renders many lessons. The most important is that you are worthy of love. And not just love from a significant other, but from yourself, first and foremost. Understanding this opens up other avenues in which you can learn to value your needs, discover and set expectations and boundaries, develop self compassion, and build a positive relationship with your body. It teaches you to give to yourself so you can give to others. If you can learn what’s most important to you, what fills you up inside, you can avoid unnecessary dating experiences, and instead make more decisive decisions about what and who to let into your life. Self-care has the power to positively affect not only the quality of your life, but also the quality of time and experiences you share with others.
5 Ways You Can Start Practicing Self-Care Today:
Training the mind is a lot like training your body with fitness. And while there are many ways to meditate, the point is to draw your consciousness inward away from the stresses and demands of the day. Meditation can help you rest, relax, and heal. If you’re a beginner, I would recommend the Mindfulness Meditation strategy.
The point of journaling is to gain a better and clearer understanding of your thoughts and feelings. Perhaps certain foods or certain activities are making you unknowingly feel sluggish. By becoming aware of certain patterns, you can find ways to increase and restore energy levels. This newfound energy can then be turned towards important things, or to an important relationship.
3. Get moving
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your physical and mental health. Harvard Medical School strongly promotes exercise as a way to ward off depression, increase libido, increase thinking ability, improve sleep, and protect overall well-being. Their studies show that just 20 minutes of cycling elevated women’s sexual arousal by 169%. When we take time to feel good for ourselves, we can in turn boost the quality of our relationships.
4. Take bubble baths
Taking a bubble bath is an excellent way to take a time out from the demands of the world. It can provide the opportunity to rest, relax, and to feel rejuvenated. Washing away the stresses of the day restores energy levels and can make you feel more at peace. And better yet, if you’ve just done your 20 minutes of cycling, you may feel like adding some scented bath bombs, candles, and inviting your partner to join you for some romantic together time.
5. Catch up
Regardless of how busy or worn out we may feel, making it a priority to be social is important. We all need others we can rely on, to dish to, to laugh with, and to turn to in tough times. Having positive connections to others makes us happier individuals. And finally, being an active participant in your relationships can help you feel like you’re living your life more fully.
Try to view self-care as a normal component in your life—as normal as going to work, or shopping for groceries. Schedule “me time” into your calendar and make it happen. Incorporating a consistent effort for self-care into your life can improve your quality of life, as well as your current and future relationships. Try to view your self-care time as a responsibility you owe to yourself. If you know how to take care of your own needs, you can better understand and attend to the needs of others. Just remember that you don’t have to be perfect to be worth loving. You are already worthy. Now go invest in yourself.