How To Practice Emotional Self-Care

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“The perfect man of old looked after himself first before looking to help others” ~Chuang Tzu

Self-care! Everyone’s talking about it today. It’s become a popular topic on the internet. And with the heat that survival constantly puts on us, self-care is no longer a “want” but a need crucial for our wellbeing. But then, what really is self-care? What do we mean when we talk about self-care? It is the provision of what is necessary for identifying and nurturing your feelings, your conscious inner state, and your intellect (Desert Alchemy).

In simpler terms, it’s the process of identifying your needs and ensuring that you attend to them. It is deliberately taking care of your well-being through restorative activities. One of the major misconceptions about self-care is that it means the same as being selfish. And of course, I have clarified that in many of my previous posts. You can read through here.

Self-care is a broad world on its own. It’s a tree with many branches producing fruits of possibilities when properly cultivated. Quickly, in the next few paragraphs, I’d like to demonstrate to you what self-care is. How?

Read the instructions below and follow them, after memorizing them.

Close your eyes.
Invite solitude.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in again.
Breathe out.
And release.

Done? Open your eyes and that’s it! That’s all. It’s that simple. Seems weird? No worries, you’ll understand the importance of this little exercise as you read on.

There’s a myth fuelled by Instagram, and most major websites and social networks that self-care is pretty much a whole day of sponsored spa, or a week of Netflix and chilling.

All these activities and experiences are good but they aren’t necessarily self-care. It’s like chasing a perfect lifestyle and in the end our focus shifts from the goal of self-care to achieving perfection. The goal is never to be perfect, and as a matter of fact, self-care is essentially the best way to get to that “imperfectly perfect” state we’re all striving towards.

Having an emotional self-care routine is pretty much the easiest way to achieve emotional stability. Self-care is a conscious effort at achieving perfection through our imperfections. There are many threats to the well-being of Americans and the citizens of other parts of the world.

The two most common are probably physical and emotional stress. Stress is one of the leading causes of many health issues across the world and unfortunately, we experience it every day. We experience stress by what we put in our bodies, what we put on our bodies, the thoughts we think and the choices that we make through our journey in life.

Physically, some of the most stressful things that we can put in our body are sugar, alcohol, excessive caffeine, and processed foods. Unfortunately, these are most of the things consumed in America.

So, with the level of stress that’s encountered every day physically and emotionally, it is essential that our self-care routine does exactly the opposite.

About a year ago, I asked a friend what he does as a routine for self-care; at that time, we were both students in college. His response was and is still one of the funniest I’ve heard in a while “I eat and I sleep”. I knew him to a good extent. He was a busy fellow.

emotional self care routine

He had a lot on his hands and his nights were equally busy. Well, as you would expect, not too long, he burned out, because he was in complete denial of what he had to do to help himself. He had to quit many activities and focus on himself. To achieve the level of self-care that was required physically and emotionally, he did three things:


1.  Moments Of Stillness And Silence

At the beginning of this article, we had an exercise. Remember? That was us having our moments of stillness and silence. Daily, we’re bombarded by noise: the television, the radio, traffic, marketplace conversations, disturbing and disrespectful neighborhood noises and the loudest noise of all, the voice in our heads.

Most humans have up to 60,000 thoughts in a day and more often than not, 80% of those thoughts are negative. Having a moment of stillness and silence conjures a sense of awareness within us and it’s only at times of stillness and silence that we can deliberately choose if we want to listen to that voice telling us negative things or we want to get rid of it.

We can also adjust the volume on how loud that voice is by determining the level of prominence we want to give to it.


2.  Movements

This is basically setting your body in motion. It could be dancing, walking, jumping or yoga. When we exercise or move, our body creates endorphins which first help us sleep – naturally reducing our stress level.

Secondly, it sends a positive feeling throughout our bodies similar to morphine. You do not necessarily need a fancy gym or trainer to make this happen, all that is required is dedication – 10 minutes daily and you’ll be fine.


3.  Time And Nature

Science has proven that time and nature is capable of improving our moods, stress level and increasing our functionality. The average person spends 93% of their lives indoors. So, pretty much, we can support our wellbeing simply by going outside. It’s normal to get disconnected from our environment, nature has programmed us so.

Essentially, it’s not about having pictures uploaded for Instagram fancy. It is about showing up for yourself. Doing the real self-care thing! Some of the facets of self-care are mental, financial, physical, emotional and many more. I’ll be focusing on the emotional self-care today.


What’s Your “Stress Life” Like?

Before talking about self-care, there’s a need to understand what propels one to go into caring for oneself. Daily, we encounter hurdles at our various workplaces. Might be some dude constantly bugging your phone, or your boss not letting you have a breathing space.

These things accumulate and manifest as stress. Stress grows on us and affects our feelings. This in itself is normal. Work, school, church, market places and so many more, probably stress you out and make us feel tired. This would continue until you deliberately decide to change.


Why Emotional Self-Care?

You have feelings, I have feelings, everyone has feelings. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad, angry, mad, anxious, scared or worried occasionally. It is a part of life. Being conscious of our emotional healthiness is highly important. Our emotions affect our health as well.

So, just the way you’d treat your body when you have a headache, stomach ache or are attacked by a virus, you should treat yourself when you have an emotional breakdown too. Our minds and body are one. A deficiency on the one part would definitely affect the other, therefore they both should be taken care of.

Now, how do you practice emotional self-care? Below, I’ll share a few ways you can start incorporating emotional self-care ideas right into your daily life, starting right away.


1.  Take A Few Deep Breaths, Especially Before Expressing Your Feelings

There are times when we want to express our emotions but then we are too pent-up to talk or let our feelings out. If you’re going through this at the moment, all you need to do at that particular point in time is to take a few breaths, ensure you’re calm and then go ahead to express your feelings.

The essence of expressing your feelings in the clearest of ways is so you won’t be misunderstood. Truth is, emotions kept inside won’t be understood. If you’re angry at someone, it is better to voice out your feelings and let them know you’re pissed.

Now, what do you do when you are too pent-up? What do you do when you are scared of losing that one friend that means a lot to you? You really are in a fix and you wouldn’t want to lose those you hold dear to your heart but then again, you still want to express your feelings… Life can be really complicating.

Sometimes, it seems like you’re in a plane of confusion flying into the abyss of sorrows. At this moment, all you need to do is take control of the moment by taking the best possible means to be calm enough to express your emotions.

Emotions are the wheels through which the thoughts of our minds are made known to the outer world. Words may lie, but emotions won’t. So, never hide your emotions because hiding them is unhealthy. Take a few deep breaths, articulate your words and let out your mind.


2.  Learn To Say NO And Serve Yourself First

Truth is, saying “no” is as simple as it gets. If there are things you don’t want to entertain, do not be pressured into saying “yes” to something you don’t want. It’s not being selfish. It’s just knowing how to protect yourself from blackmail. Trust me, to survive in today’s world, you need this skill. Trust me, I’ve been in crazy situations where I had to choose between my friendship and my interest.

I was at the edge of losing a tight friend because she made suggestions that didn’t agree with my standards. I stood my ground of not accepting any standard not meant for me. It’s the proper thing to do. If you’re not comfortable with anything, let it be known. Don’t be scared of saying no and setting some firm boundaries.


3.  Protect Your Energy From Others

You are you and you owe yourself the responsibility to always protect yourself. Your energy is a vital part of you and would always be needed when you’re going through a breakdown. Ensure you protect it from others so you don’t fall victim to the plots of people with negative vibes.

Your energy is key to your physical and mental status. You need to take good care of your energy. It is your positive spiritual force that propels you to take actions that are beneficial for your self. It’s an integral part of self-care.


4.  Create Boundaries That Feel Good To Set And Encourage Others To Do The Same

Setting boundaries is an important factor in every relationship. As a human, you should have a private space and a social space. Some people should not be allowed into your personal space. Setting boundaries doesn’t have to be physical. You can set boundaries by stating what is acceptable and what is not.

Setting boundaries for something is essentially creating limits for it. What this does is, it automatically vets what you allow into your life and what you don’t. I have written an article on how to set boundaries here, enjoy!


5.  Stop Over-Explaining Yourself To People

You have the right to be who you are without explanations. People will always be there to question you and know why you do what you do. You must always stand your guard and realize that you do not owe anyone any explanations for being who you are or having what you truly want.

Truth is, everybody will not always understand you. I mean, we all have different realities and human connections only thrive on what they will enjoy from communions of friendship.

You are not expected to over-explain yourself to people. When people are bent on not understanding you, please go ahead and get rid of them. You don’t need their validation anyways.


6.  Reserve The Word “Sorry” For Only Those Moments When You’re Genuinely Sorry

You can do whatever you want so long you’re cool with it. The priority is YOU. Of course, you might exercise caution once in a while but essentially, you do not owe an apology to anyone if you’re not supposed to. Truth is, you have to always place yourself first, it’s a part of self-care and if someone is mad at that, then it is their problem.

Apologize only when you know you’re sorry. An apology is an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret. However, when you are compelled to apologize for an act despite being right, you shouldn’t. If you feel coerced to do it, don’t! An apology has to come from your heart.


7.  Accept Compliments Without Arguments Or Pushbacks. A “Thank You” Would Do

emotional self care ideas

If someone walks up to you and tells you that you are beautiful or smell nice, you should accept the compliment without questioning their sense of judgment or dispelling their opinion. You are worthy and a simple “thank you” would do. Truth is, getting all argumentative and cynical is nothing but a sign of low self-esteem.

You do not need to get all negative about innocent compliments. Accept them as though they were your reality. Even if they don’t seem genuine, a “thank you” would do and you’ll be fine.


8.  Call On Others For Help When You Start To Feel Overwhelmed

You are not perfect, as a matter of fact, no one is. At that point when you think you’re overwhelmed or consumed by your emotions, call for help. Reach out to those you know can help you.

Do not keep your problems to yourself. Remember, a tree can not make a forest. You aren’t an island of knowledge neither are you a robot – you’d always need the help of other humans.

I would always refer to the period when I was writing my book. It wasn’t easy getting myself to multi-task and I realized that if I didn’t work on myself, I’d collapse. I had to call for help. I figured I needed help and I did just that. You should never feel too big to ask for help when you know you can’t handle certain tasks alone anymore.


9.  Express Your Emotions Without Judgment, Guilt Or Embarrassment

If frankly, you are not cool with something, feel free to express yourself with no fear of being judged, guilty or embarrassed. It’s a very important way of caring for yourself. Whatever it is that you are feeling inside, ensure you let your emotions out in clear and transparent terms.

Do not fret. You have the right to your emotions. You shouldn’t be embarrassed or guilt-tripped into thinking you can’t express your emotions as freely as you want.


10.  Give Yourself The Grace To Try Again When Moments Don’t Go As Expected. Accepting Your Flaws Is Key

You are not perfect. No one is. And until you come to that realization, you’d not understand the importance of accepting your flaws and trying again. If you’re expecting everything to always go as expected, then you’re a joke. Truth is, things won’t always go as expected. People will disappoint you. You will disappoint people too. That’s what makes you human.

Accept this reality and watch your life experience a change. I have been there. At some point in my life, I must admit, I had my down days. I had days when I felt like a complete failure. I was sinking in the ship of insecurity and drowning with the tides of life. It wasn’t rosy. Things weren’t going as expected and it seemed like there wasn’t going to ever be a good time in my life.

Thankfully, through the help of a friend, I figured out that I was going through a normal stage of my life and I saw it as a way of growing. My life experienced a significant change after that realization. Yours can too.

Some other ways to have and maintain an emotionally self-conscious and caring life include:

11.  Resist the urge to spend your free time in a way that pleases others: If you are an introvert, don’t apologize for needing solitude. Grow your soul in a way that feels right to you.

12.  Engage yourself in something creative every day: It doesn’t matter how small. All creativity feeds the soul.

13.  Forgive yourself for little mistakes: Treat yourself with the same compassion and kindness that you would a close friend.

14.  Meditate.

15.  Journal every night: Even a short entry counts. Draw cartoons, write poetry or keep a gratitude list. Mix it up. Make it your own. Store your memories. They matter.

16.  Give yourself three compliments each morning: Start the day by working toward a positive self-image. A positive image of yourself is probably the pivotal way of experiencing emotional self-care.

17.  Cultivate gratitude: Take note of small joys in your life as you go about your day.

18.  Listen to the way you speak to yourself: You’ll be surprised at the messages you may have internalized. Make an effort to engage in positive self-talk.

19.  Take note of one thing you love about your body each day.

20.  When you feel your self-esteem starts to slip, write a love letter to yourself.


Pro-tip: If truly we are to be our best and most useful selves, caring for our souls is highly essential. A happy and healthy person can accomplish twice as much as one who is fighting burnout… So, what’s stopping you from caring for your emotions?


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Emotional self care



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Author: Afam Uche

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