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Pracising self-care is not sefish!

“Self-care helps to prevent stress and anxiety. By incorporating self-care activities into your regular routine, like going for a walk or socialising with friends, you give your body and mind time to rest, reset, and rejuvenate, so you can avoid or reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety.” Black Dog Institute

It is essential that we fill our own cups, in order to be able to give to family, friends, clients, colleagues, etc. If we don’t replenish our energy how can we give away or use more of it?

 

HAPPINESS CHEMICALS

Practising self-care also helps regulate the happiness chemicals in the brain which include:

  • DOPAMINE – the reward system (released when doing something you enjoy)
  • OXYTOCIN – the love drug (released during physical contact)
  • SEROTONIN – the mood stabiliser (released when feeling good about yourself)
  • ENDORPHIN – the pain killer (released after things like exercise)

Low levels of Serotonin can lead to an overproduction of Dopamine. For example you might be feeling low on energy, low on self-esteem, anxiety or drepssion (low on Serotonin) which makes you want to reach out for a pleasure hit (Dopamine) such as shopping, alcohol, chocolate, etc. which may make us feel good momentarily but won’t sustain our happiness in the long run.

Over stimulation such as binge watching TV, scrolling through social media for hours or consuming too much fast food can desensitise us to what use to give us a pleasure hit, or cause addiction from wanting more of it more often.

Things like healthy food, natural light and exercise can help keep our Serotonin levels in check, as well as doing things that make us happy.

Graphic used with permission from mindmypeelings.

happiness chemicals

 

PLEASURE VS HAPPINESS – THE SEVEN KEY DIFFERENCES

(from Dr. Robert Lustig – The Hacking of the American Mind)

  1. Pleasure is short-lived – happiness is long-lived.
  2. Pleasure is visceral – happiness is ethereal.
  3. Pleasure is taking – happiness is giving.
  4. Pleasure can be achieved with substances – happiness cannot be achieved with substances.
  5. Pleasure is experienced alone – happiness is experienced in social groups.
  6. The extremes of pleasure all lead to addiction, whether they be substances or behaviours. Yet there’s no such thing as being addicted to too much happiness.
  7. Finally, and most importantly, pleasure is tied to dopamine (the pleasure biochemical/neurotransmitter), and happiness is tied to serotonin (the happiness biochemical/neurotransmitter).

  

SELF-CARE TIPS

  • Differentiate between things that bring you pleasure (short term – dopamine) and things that bring you happiness (long term – serotonin). SEE ABOVE
  • Schedule it into your diary.
  • Set reminders.
  • Choose practises that make you happy (not what you think should or make other people happy) – stay true to you.
  • Don’t be afraid to be adventurous and creative.
  • Feed your spirit or soul as well as your body.
  • Activities don’t need to cost money or take up a lot of time.

 

SELF-CARE PLAN

Self-care activities are practises we can engage on a regular basis to reduce stress and anxiety and enhance our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

Below are just some examples of self-care practises and different areas and ways to practise self-care. You can use my downloadable worksheet to complete your self-care plan in terms of what you can do to enhance your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing:

  • in case of emergency (feeling completely overwhelmed, stressed, anxious)
  • on a daily or weekly basis that fits in with your schedule
  • monthly or quarterly that you can plan in advance
  • something special you could do once a year to really replenish your soul

Remember to put things that bring you long lasting happiness, not just short term pleasure.  

self-care-ideas 

Download my self-care worksheet to complete your own self-care plan.