We're often tought that putting our own needs first is seflish or lazy, regardless as to whether or not that viewpoint is good for our own personal well-being. That's why it's so important to exercise self-care — but since self-care is often misunderstood and undervalued, Marina Watanabe, aka "Marina Shutup" on YouTube, has just taken a moment to offer forth a few suggestions for how to practice self-care. Being kind to ourselves is often the best thing we can do during times of stress or anxiety, and Watanabe's tips are a great place to start.
First things first, though: What is self-care, exactly? According to the University of Kentucky, self-care "includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health." It's a very broad definition, yes , but it's also a very broad practice. Your self-care is unique to you, since everyone has different needs, interests, and levels of balance that feel comfortable to them.
It's important to also stress that self-care encompasses physical, mental, and emotional activities — it's not limited just to one or two of those areas. Self-care for your body might mean taking a yoga class every week or making sure to get enough sleep; meanwhile, on the mental and emotional sides, self-care might include prioritizing relationships that nurture you and limiting how available you make yourself to those who might be taking more than they are giving. The University of Buffalo emphasizes that overall, self-care is about enhancing your health and wellbeing, which includes, relationships, work, mind, body, emotions, spirit, and body. They're all parts of the same whole.
Since self-care is so individual and broad, Watanabe gave three general tips for how to practice it that can be easily adapted based on whatever you yourself need. All of these are very practical, easy, and best of all, free. Scroll down to watch the full video for more!
1. Remember To Breathe
Sometimes we get so overwhelmed that the world feels like it's crashing down on us. It's amazing what taking a moment just to breathe can do to help you to reset. "It's so easy to get bogged down in your workload... but honestly, sometimes taking a second to collect yourself is going to be more helpful to you in the long run," Watanabe says. You could also try to engage in some meditative breathing exercises if you want to take this a step further.
2. Make Self-Care A Priority
Instead of putting self-care on the backburner or waiting until you've completed every item on your to-do list before you schedule a self-care activity, set aside time dedicated solely to focusing on your self-care practice. "I typically like to do creative activities where I get to work with my hands and not think about too much," Watanabe says. Think about what kinds of activities you gravitate towards to relax and schedule time on your calendar to do them.
3. Treat Yourself Like An Old Friend
We've all probably had moments where we were very hard on ourselves when we weren't as productive as we would have liked to be. Instead of beating yourself up, Watanabe says that you should talk to yourself like you would a good friend. "How I like to think of it is viewing yourself the way you would view a friend. If you're friend was feeling bad about making a mistake or skipped a class... you wouldn't get mad at them for it; you would hopefully try to make them feel better," she reasons. So, we should treat ourselves with the same level of respect and care that we would one of our friends.
Curious as to what lead Watanabe to discuss self-care? She reveals her personal struggles with mental health that have led her to cultivate a healthy self-care practice in the video, which you can watch in full down below.