The Self-Care Generation

You get home after a long day of work. The evening may consist of eating dinner, then doing a relaxing activity, such as reading, journaling, watching TV or something else. Routines like these are often associated with self-care.

Self-care is not just relaxation. As PsychCentral describes, self-care is the act of taking care of oneself. It involves our physical, emotional and mental health, the facets that make up our person.

In this generation, self-care has become somewhat of an obsession. One 2015 study found that millennials spend twice as much as Baby Boomers on self-care related items, such as diet plans, workout classes, therapy and more. It has become a $10 billion industry.

So why the obsession? One theory, according to a 2017 NPR article, involves the Internet. It’s now possible to simply sit down and find the answer to just about anything, including self-care. Google it, and you’ll find countless results on ways to make it part of your life. Social media feeds are filled with tips and tricks on improving your life and health. There are entire websites, blogs and even businesses built upon the practice of self-care.

Tying in with the Internet, millennials are using it to talk openly about obstacles they might be experiencing in their lives. This generation is among the largest to experience mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. But we’re also breaking through the stigma by discussing ways to address these problems. Self-care is one of them.

Another reason for the fixation on self-care has to do with today’s lifestyle. It’s now considered normal to get answers right away without considering other options. As one Philly Voice article states, it’s the expectation to be the best, the fastest, to focus on the prize in both our professional and personal lives. In doing so, we can forget to focus on what our true self needs.

That being said, here are a couple of basic tips to help develop a self-care routine. This can vary according to your lifestyle and schedule.

Exercise. This is one the most common tips out there, but physical activity is an important part of self-care. It contributes to better physical health and mental health by not just burning calories, but releasing endorphins; chemicals that reduce stress and manage depression. The nice part about exercise is that there are so many different types available, and you can find one that you like. Suggestions include jogging or yoga. More vigorous exercise such as boxing or weight training can be great stress relievers.

Take a little bit of time for yourself every day. It can be as short as 20 minutes, either in the morning, during your lunch break or in the evening. Do something that relaxes you, such as drinking cup of tea, reading, journaling, or just sitting in silence.

Try something new. This might sound like another cliché, but doing something different can help keep us busy in our lives and contribute to a better work/life balance. Suggestions include joining a sports team, theatre group or other type of class.

Lastly, contrary to popular belief, self-care is not a selfish act. Taking care of oneself is very important and benefits our relationships with other people. Listening to our true needs and feelings and helps us develop love, empathy and other emotions. This makes us a better person, which in turn helps us treat other people better.

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