If you think you have been hearing more about self-care in 2021, you are not imagining things. The number of searches for self-care has more than doubled since 2015, according to Google Trends. Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, an associate professor and chair of the department of psychological and educational consultation at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, says the need for self-care is obvious. “We have an epidemic of anxiety and depression and everybody feels it,” she said.

Whether it is a monthly pedicure appointment, a trip to Starbucks for that complicated latte, going to the spa once a year with your best friend, daily walks with the dog, getting together with your squad to sip on some wine and gossip, an intense workout at the gym, playing a sport, taking up a hobby, binge watching the latest Netflix craze, or asking Grandma to let the kids have a sleepover at her house so you can sleep in a quiet house for one night, all of these and more are ways to help one relax, destress, and treat themselves. These are all part of self-care which is important to the health and well-being of a human.

Before we go any further, let us clear up one common misconception. Self-care is not synonymous with selfishness or self-indulgence. Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, feel well, adequately perform your job, help and care for others, and do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day. Self-care is part of the answer to how we can all better cope with daily stressors, explains Kelsey Patel, a Los Angeles–based wellness expert and author. The stress of trying to keep up with the pace of daily life, which technology has hastened more than ever (just think how many emails come flooding into your inbox each day). “People are feeling lonelier and less able to unwind and slow down, which makes them feel more anxious and overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks,” Patel said.

Imagine that you are sitting in the office. It has been an extremely busy week at work. There is an important meeting you must prepare for, a social media campaign that you are in charge of spearheading, loads of paperwork to organize and file, and your calendar is jam-packed with tasks and events. How does one make room for all these things? Well, most of the time they overwork, cancel that yoga session, cut back on socializing, and even skip a few meals. To keep up with this roadrunner form of living, many people do not think twice before putting self-care on the back burner. More often than not, it takes a wake-up call to notice the toll this kind of lifestyle takes on our lives.

No matter how indulgent or fancy the term may sound, self-care is crucial for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. No one should neglect self-care and here are some significant reasons why:

  • Know your worth:  Self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself as it produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and self-esteem. Self-care is necessary to remind yourself and others that you and your needs are important too. If this is a concept that is new to you and you could use a few pointers, check out Self Care: Love Yourself: How to Embrace Self-Compassion, Body Love, & Self Love for Life-Changing by Aston Sanderson. It is available in SPL’s digital catalog. 
  • A healthy work-life balance: Contrary to common belief, workaholism is not a virtue. Overwork, and the accompanying stress and exhaustion can make you less productive, disorganized, and depleted emotionally. It can also lead to all sorts of health problems, from anxiety and depression to insomnia and heart disease.  Professional self-care habits like taking intermittent breaks (call your mom, take a short walk, eat some food, drink water), setting professional boundaries, avoiding overextending, etc. ensures that you stay sharp, motivated, and healthy. To help yourself get a sufficient start in the area of time management and make the most of the time we are given, read Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. This item is available in The Salina Public Library’s physical book collection.
  • Stress management:  While a small dose of stress is a healthy way to give us a nudge that we need to meet deadlines or finish that overdue task, constant stress and anxiety can have an adverse effect on your mental and physical health. Smart self-care habits like eating healthy, connecting with a loved one, or practicing meditation cuts down the toxic effects of stress by improving your mood and boosting your energy and confidence levels. If managing stress is not quite your strong suite, consider reading 8 Keys To Stress Management: Simple And Effective Strategies To Transform Your Experience Of Stress by Elizabeth Anne Scott. This item is available in The Salina Public Library’s physical book collection.
  • Living versus existing:  Life is precious and short, so why waste it when we have the choice to have a more meaningful existence? Yes, we have a lot of responsibilities — raising children, paying bills, home upkeep and maintenance, giving back to our community, etc. However, it is important to remember that taking care of yourself is also your responsibility. Little things like sipping tea while looking at the raindrops racing down the window glass, enjoying a bubble bath, or reading a book are essential for your daily happiness. Additionally, activities such as taking up a new hobby or learning a new language with Rosetta Stone can make your life more purposeful and give you a new reason to get up in the morning. Visit Salina Public Library’s online calendar or call the Library to register for an event that piques your interest.
  • Better physical health:  Self-care is not just about your mental health. It is also about caring for your physical self, by eating healthy, sleeping adequately, caring about your hygiene, exercising regularly, etc. Feel free to peruse the Salina Public Library’s wide range of exercise DVD’s to jumpstart those endorphins.

Now, if you are still with me and reading this, I am going to assume that you are ready to board the self-care train. Here are ten, small, simple self-care habits that anyone can adopt:

  1. Go for a walk or light jog.  
  2. Meditate or do deep breathing for five minutes. 
  3. Take a break when you need it.  
  4. Choose who you spend time with. 
  5. Eat green daily.
  6. Avoid emotional eating.
  7. Start a journal.
  8. Learn to say “No”.
  9. Stop overthinking.
  10. Be patient with yourself.

Lastly, if you are ready to commit to some self-care regimens, do not put it off for the next weekend, a new year’s resolution, or the zombie apocalypse. Start today and be consistent. It will not be long before you begin to see the difference in how you feel. Remember, health is wealth.