In these trying times, it’s more crucial than ever to take care of ourselves. We speak to June Wee-Grant, a certified Life Coach at junewee.com, on what self-care is and how to practise it.
Q. What does self-care mean and why is it important?
June: Self-care means doing things to nourish and enrich your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being so that you maintain a healthy relationship with yourself.
Having a healthy relationship with yourself is a responsible thing to do – not just for yourself, but for those around you too. When your well-being is nourished and enriched, you feel less stressed and are able to thrive. You are also more likely to have the capacity to support others as well. Just like the old saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”.
Q. Some people feel guilty about taking time for self-care, viewing it as selfish. How can we stop feeling this way?
June: The first step is to recognise that being selfish does not have to be a bad thing. If being a little selfish means that your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being needs are met, isn’t that a good thing? Consider this: if all your needs are met, what will you be able to create for others around you?
Another way to stop feeling guilty is to reframe your thoughts and look at things from a different perspective. Here’s an easy 3-step method to reframe your thoughts:
1. When the negative feeling comes up, ask yourself, “Does this thought support my well-being?”
2. Next, ask yourself, “What is this thought costing me?”
3. Finally, ask yourself, “What is another way of looking at this?” – and invite yourself to consider another perspective that is supportive and positive.
When you change your thoughts, your feelings change too. And consequently, so does your behaviour.
Q. Do I need to splash out (spa treatments, shopping for luxury items, etc.) for effective self-care?
June: The short answer is No.
Effective self-care looks different for everybody, but it does not need to cost an arm and a leg. Self-care is more than just about massages, scented candles and luxury gifts, and it’s not about indulgence. Taking care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being starts with getting to know yourself, noticing what you need in all these areas of your life, and taking steps to do it.
Here are a few examples of effective self-care activities that cost little to nothing:
Reading a book, being out in nature, taking a shower or a bath, meditate, saying no when you need to, slowing down, digital detox, exercise.
Q. What’s the difference between self-care and self-improvement?
June: Self-care focuses on your overall well-being and relationship with yourself by being aware of your needs and taking care of them, while self-improvement is about becoming a better version of yourself by becoming more skilled and productive.
Q. Is connecting with loved ones a form of self-care? How do we do this safely in the middle of a pandemic?
June: Yes. Social connection has been linked to longevity, increasing happiness, reducing stress and boosting the immune system. Spending time with loved ones gives us a sense of belonging, emotional support during hard times, and intellectual stimulation. It is important to carefully select healthy relationships to invest time and energy on – that’s part of self-care as well.
To safely do this in the middle of a pandemic, you can start by checking in on loved ones by sending them a text message or giving them a call to find out how they’re doing and share what you’ve been up to.
As a step further, you could schedule virtual gatherings using technology such as Zoom or WhatsApp to cook together, play games, or share a meal together to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or even just for fun. Attending online classes together is another way to engage with loved ones. I recently attended a virtual candle-making class and there was a couple among the attendees. The guy said that he joined the class to spend time with his girlfriend and he was going to arrange to have the candle he made delivered to her after the class.
Another way is to send food or flowers to loved ones, to just let them know that you’re thinking of them. Now that it’s durian season, durian lovers could send some to their durian kakis to let them know that their makan sessions are fondly missed!
How do you practise self-care? Share your tips with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!