Self-care, a buzzword we all heard about. But if it is so common, why do we still need to talk about it? Well, because we don’t do it enough. Self-care can improve productivity and boost creativity levels. That’s why we asked Marketa Horakova, the founder of Terapie v Lese who specialises in self-development and wellbeing in the Czech Republic, to tell us how to implement self-care in our everyday life. You can watch a workshop on mental health with Marketa here.
Buzz around self-care
Self-care is a buzzword. Go to Instagram or Pinterest and you will see an endless stream of bath bombs, face masks and avocado bowls for breakfast. Beautifully filtered photos. The reality is that self-care is about much more than occasional treats like buying something new for yourself. It’s about more than having chocolate cake because you deserve it.
Self-care has become somewhat trivialized on social media, simplified to beauty treatments and typographically well done quotes. Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh manicure and creamy vanilla ice-cream. But when I felt lost and overwhelmed it didn’t help. Because true self-care is a lot more than that. And it isn’t always Instagram worthy.
So what is true self-care
It's a choice to build a life you want. It’s often a choice to do things you don’t want to do like saving money instead of spending them on a new dress, leaving a toxic friend because s/he’s draining your energy or sweat through another workout. True self-care means taking responsibility for your life and decisions. And it's a long-term run.
‘Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others’. (psychcentral.com)
It is an activity. It’s about balancing your life and activities to protect yourself from burnout, anxiety or the feeling to escape from your life. It’s about establishing habitual actions, rituals, and engraving them into your daily life. It’s about building boundaries about what is acceptable for you and what is not. It’s about deep introspection to understand yourself.
For a long time I didn’t know it. I even thought that it is kind of a weakness to have a work-life balance. I saw my job as the most important thing in my life that I didn't even establish activities to relieve myself from it. Then I burned out and my only wish was to fly to Mexico and stay there. I didn’t do this. Actually I did the exact opposite. I took a break and started to discover new ways to live.
Burnout syndrome is a reaction to long-term stress when you feel tired and lose the meaning of your work. Psychiatrist Dr. Ptáček says that symptoms of burnout show about 20 % of the Czech population. According to OECD mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorders, affect more than one in six people across the 28 EU countries in any given year. That is quite a high number.
Where to start?
- Start saying “No”. It’s the simplest yet hardest way to practice self-care. Make your boundaries. Don’t answer the phone after 7pm, don’t attend events you don’t like, don’t try to please everyone.
- Make time for yourself. Everyday. Meditate, write a journal or just watch the sunset. Enjoy the things you like without compromises. Practice gratitude for everything you have already accomplished.
- Take care of your body. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, workout. It may sound trivial but it’s true. You have only one body and the most important task is to take care of it.
- Get help. If you feel lost, find a personal guide. Therapist, couch, whatever you like. It’s not a shame to open up to someone and enjoy the moment when someone is here for you to listen. There are many high quality therapy treatments in the Czech Republic, not only in Prague.
- Make time for your loved ones. Spend time with your family. Remove toxic people from your life and protect your energy for people who deserve it.
- Spend time in nature. At least 120 min a week. Nature provides a lot of benefits like stress reduction, mood uplifting or boost of energy, all for free. You can go for a mindful walk to experience nature first hand.
Enjoy your bubble baths and wine but take it as a treat not necessity. How? Focus on your mind, body and soul. Prioritize yourself first. Personal growth isn't a piece of cake but it will help you be a better person, feel comfortable with yourself and live a more meaningful life. And it's worth the work.