Self-care is a term that has become popular in society lately. But meaning can become distorted after much use of a term. Take a moment to think. What do you consider self-care? Are you thinking, going out for fun, reading a good book, playing a game with friends. These could be self-care activities. But self care is not about having fun, goofing off, avoiding responsibilities. Self care is the practice of taking an active role in preserving, protecting or improving your own health, well-being and happiness, especially during times of stress.
This means that sometimes self-care is not going out with friends because getting a good night sleep is important for your mental and physical well-being. Sometimes it is putting the book down and getting some work done because reading is your go-to avoidance method and procrastination causes you stress. And sometimes self-care is saying no to that games night with friends and instead taking some time alone to reflect, breathe and contemplate the future.
Self-care is not always fun. It is doing those things that help you to feel strong, healthy and mentally and emotionally grounded. It is ensuring your body is well hydrated, it has an opportunity to move and it is being fuelled with good nutrition. It is looking after your mental health by creating healthy boundaries, paying attention to your emotions, self regulating when times are stressful and committing to consistent therapy.
There are five areas of your life to consider when implementing self-care strategies.
Physical care of your body is very important and affects your mental and emotional well being to. Exercise, nutrition, and sleep are all considered in physical self-care.
Self-compassion and acceptance is a good start to mental self-care. Our mental health is affected by the thoughts that we think, and our self talk. But being physically tired and unwell makes it very difficult to stay positive and compassionate about ourselves. Learning something new, working out a challenging puzzle, thinking positively are all strategies for mental self-care.
3. Emotional Self-Care
There are no such thing as bad emotions, however, there are poor unproductive expressions of emotions. Many people are uncomfortable with feelings of anger,sadness, anxiety but our emotions are there to communicate something to us. Figuring out what that message is should be our priority rather than avoiding them, suppressing them or numbing them. Meditation, journalling,and gratitude are emotional self-care strategies.
People are social creatures. That is one reason that the isolation of the pandemic was so taxing on so many people and why mental health issues increased substantially when isolation was mandated. Getting together with friends, joining a club, travelling with extended family can be strategies to use for this category.
5. Spiritual Self-Care
Spirituality involves developing a deeper sense of meaning and making connections beyond ourselves. Meditation, worship service, inspirational music can all be strategies for spiritual self-care.
Now go back to my original question what do you consider self-care? And one further question, what are you doing for self-care in your own life?