August is national wellness month and a reminder to prioritize self-care, be aware of your health, and create wellness routines in our daily lives. Self-care is an essential factor in stress reduction for all, although the type of care needed is very individualized. There are many ways to practice self-care: sleep, exercise, food choices, setting boundaries, or scheduling a dental appointment, for example. Self-care can also be watching television, getting your nails done, or doing anything else you enjoy. It does not have to be costly or feel like a chore. Self-care should give you life. And while the August objective is to bring awareness to the importance of these activities, self-care should be included regularly in our lives throughout the year.

Internet self-care day is August 21 of each calendar year. They created this holiday to prompt online resources and ideas to better take care of ourselves. There are endless suggestions to be found if ideas are needed or if you are looking for reassurance that taking time for self-care is necessary, but doctor recommended.

One issue with self-care that is less talked about is the guilt and shame that can surround taking time for yourself or even feeling this way just for considering it. Like anything unfamiliar, self-care can initially feel uncomfortable and foreign. It is truly vital for your brain and body to have a break, so even if self-care is introduced slowly or in small doses, it is still worth doing and overcoming the culpability you may feel, and working towards incorporating more ‘you time’ and more boundaries. Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or with being selfish. Self-care means taking care of yourself so you will be healthy, be well, do your job more effectively, help and care for others, and accomplish what you need and want to do in a day. We feel like we should want to practice self-care, and initially, this isn’t always the case, but it doesn’t make this time any less important.

Practicing self-care is an example to set for those around us. Whether it be your children, your co-workers, or your friends. The stress of keeping up with the swiftness of daily life can chip away at us. Technology and increased accessibility have increased our work pace, volunteering, and managing our home. According to physicians, we have an epidemic of anxiety and depression. Part of the answer to how we can all better cope with our stressors is self-care. It’s also at any given moment a part of the solution that is within our hands. Research shows that even if we can’t drop the task at hand, just having something scheduled that you are looking forward to can reduce stress levels and boost your mood.

Reach out to a friend. Take a vacation day. Binge-watch your favorite show. Go out for ice cream. Go for a walk. Do you remember what you used to love doing? Get whatever that is on your calendar. If you don’t put yourself on the list, who is going to? Pencil you in! You deserve to be your best self, and so do those who surround you.