Self care. We’ve all heard about it but what does it really mean and how can you learn to practice it effectively and in a meaningful way?It is a lifestyle choice that many women need but which few of us allow ourselves to indulge. Well and Good offers some insight into why many of us choose not to indulge.First of all, it is important to realize that simply asking for your loved one or co-worker to do something or change something is not always enough. Sometimes others need a little bit of encouragement to implement a behaviour change they might not want to do. One of the best ways to do this is to gently encourage them because that will give them motivation. This can be incorporated into your assertiveness script which you prepare in advance of delivering the message. It is also important to recognize that the other person may choose not to comply with your request. That is where the self-care part comes in.Being able to assert yourself is a big part of self-care. It gives you a way to voice your needs and wants in a healthy way. So, instead of getting angry and demanding a change from the other person, you ask for it in a way that allows them the grace to not acquiesce but  the request has been made.Always prepare your statement in advance and rehearse it with a non-involved person if need be. That will give you confidence to deliver it without stumbling over your words or backtracking. By being assertive, it shows the other person that you are capable of expressing your needs and desires in a way that does not harm them or stomp all over their own feelings.You can use this skill in situations where you are worried about going out with someone who has a tendency to drink too much by saying, “If you are unable to refrain from drinking at the party, I will drive my own car.” To a teenager who leaves a mess in the house much of the time, you can say, “If you are unable to keep your room tidy, I will hire a cleaning service and we will split the cost.” or to a teenage driver who won’t cover the cost of their insurance, “If you refuse to pay for your insurances, I will transfer the title to your name and you can take over the cost of the car payments as well.”
These statements convey to the other person that you are able to protect your own rights and take care of yourself in the bargain.Choosing to be assertive means expressing your needs in a healthy way. So, instead of getting angry because no one is helping with the dinner prep, you can say something like, “I’ve had a really long day today, I would like you to help with dinner prep tonight.” Most of us fall down with these requests because it is hard to assert our needs especially when we are vulnerable ourselves like after a long day at work. But that’s when it’s especially important. When you are struggling with WHY you should do this, remember the Assertive Bill of Rights. Zac M. Cruz offers brilliant insights into why and how to utilize this all important skill.

 The Better Health channel of Australia also offers tips on how to best practice assertiveness skills one of which is to listen actively to the other person. Active listening skills are extremely important when using assertiveness because it keeps you from shutting the other person down when they respond. They are important because as Skills You Need says, listening is one of the most important skills in the communication process.Learning this skill will not only help you get along better with others, it will also help you feel better about yourself and your interpersonal relationships.You can also check out the Assertive Woman Blog, a wonderful active online group of women who are learning about how to practice assertiveness and old pros at the technique