How to Make Self-Care a Priority

By Nirmala Raniga Nirmala RanigaThroughout life, you’re taught to extend love outwards—to be kind to others, to share, to shower others with compassion, empathy, and generosity. Yet, when it comes to directing all those gifts to yourself, it often feels less natural.   If you’re inclined to live your life with feelings of guilt, shame, and perhaps self-loathing, it can be challenging to replace that hatred with adoration and love. You may not feel you deserve such gifts, but the reality is that you probably need them more than anyone. Your ability to love others will grow with your ability to love yourself.  
Why Self-Care Is Essential
Self-compassion and self-care are integral cornerstones of healing your relationship with yourself. While it sounds easy, for many, learning to love yourself will be one of the most challenging tasks you’ll ever face.
By practicing self-care, and learning to extend love toward yourself, you begin to cultivate feelings of self-worth, strength, and resiliency, leaving behind self-abuse and harmful coping mechanisms used to mask negative feelings you’ve had about yourself.
Loving yourself does not mean you are selfish or self-centred. On the contrary, loving yourself deepens your ability to care for others and broadens your capacity to love. Pointing your compassion inwards fosters increased empathy for those around you. Simply put, you can’t care for others well if you don’t care for yourself first.
Self-care includes caring for your whole being, including:
Living a balanced lifestyle (being mindful of sleep, nutrition, and exercise)
Exerting healthy boundaries for yourself and others
Practicing self-acceptance
Becoming more mindful and aware of your thoughts, behaviors, and actions
Here are six forms of self-care that will nourish your entire being.
Physical
Physical self-care means caring for your body internally and externally. Your physical self-care could be ensuring you get eight hours of rest every night, taking a long walk, or preparing a healthy and wholesome meal. By prioritizing things like sleep and nutrition, you can optimize your energy levels, which results in having more energy for yourself and loved ones.
If you haven’t practiced physical self-care before now, take small steps to take care of your body:
Commit to light exercise three times per week
Go to sleep 15 minutes before your normal bed time
Prepare and enjoy at least two dinners at home with a loved one each week
Take mental note of what types of food you are eating and assess if you need to change your eating patterns
Emotional
Emotional self-care is important for your overall health. You can take care of your emotional well-being by processing and verbalizing feelings with trusted friends, family members, or a therapist. You can also release negative emotions through an expressive art form such as:
Listening to music
Singing
Drawing
Dancing  
It also helps to avoid situations and people that cause you undue emotional distress. Practice setting boundaries and learn to be in touch with your thoughts and feelings. By releasing your emotions rather than bottling them in, you can move through painful experiences that may otherwise cause you to suffer.
Mental
You can practice mental self-care by trying new activities that challenge and stimulate you mentally. It’s …read more
Source: Deepak Chopra