“With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my own side.”
— Susan Weiss Berry
You’ve probably heard of the words ‘self-care’ thrown around just about everywhere these days. But it’s not all in your head nor is it an over exaggeration…
In fact, Google searches for ‘self-care’ has doubled since 2015 and thanks to the pandemic, it’s increasing rapidly. And understandably so.
But what exactly is ‘self-care’?
The World Health Organization defines it as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
Personally, though, I’d simply define it as anything you can do that gives you joy.
Self-care is crucial in maintaining a good state of health & wellbeing. It can be key in reducing stress & anxiety, improving our body’s immunity as well as preventing physical and mental health ailments that can be costly and requires much effort & time to treat.
By setting aside time for self-care practices on a regular basis, we’re likely to have a more balanced, productive, and happier lives.
While we may be most familiar with acts of physical self-care such as exercising, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet, there are actually 6 other aspects of self-care that we ought to also pay attention to. They are:
- Emotional Self-care
- Mental Self-Care
- Social Self-Care
- Spiritual Self-Care
- Practical Self-Care
- And Professional Self-Care.
Maintaining a good state of mental health is as important (if not more) than our physical health. Unfortunately, it’s not as ‘tangible’ – It’s not something we can necessarily see and as a result, many people tend to put it in the back burner.
Emotional self-care enables us to cater to our emotional needs and include anything that helps us to acknowledge our emotions & process them in a healthy way.
One of the best way to start tending to our emotional well-being is to be aware of how you ‘talk’ to yourself. Do you constantly engage in negative self-talk? If so, it’s imperative to stop the negative chatting and replace them with words that are loving & kind instead.
A good ‘rule of thumb’ is to talk to yourself as if you’re talking to those who you love. Without cultivating self-love, the belief that you are worthy of love, joy, and happiness, it’d be nearly impossible to maintain a healthy self-care routine.
Emotional self-care include anything that helps us to acknowledge our emotions and process & reflect on them in a healthy way. These activities include:
- Reciting positive affirmations/mantras
- Practicing gratitude
- Having sessions with mental health professionals such as coaches, therapists, or counsellors
Like emotional self-care, mental self-care is a big part in tending to our mental health needs.
It includes any activity that stimulates your mind or your intellect such as:
- Listening to podcasts
- Doing a puzzle, sudoku, etc.
- Going to the museum
- Taking a course
- Spending time on your interests/hobbies
While everyone’s needs for social interactions vary, human beings are wired for connection and it’s essential that we cater to that innate need.
Social self-care is any activity that establishes new connections as well as nurtures and deepens the relationships with those who are already in your life. This includes:
- Personal networking
- Going on dates
- Having get-togethers with friends
- Calling & spending quality time with your loved ones
Contrary to popular beliefs, spirituality isn’t necessarily tied to religion. While it’s true that some activities are part of religion, spiritual activities are basically those that nurtures your spirit and enables you to think and connect to something bigger than yourself.
These include (but not limited to):
- Being in nature
- Setting aside time for self-reflection
- Engaging in prayer or attending a worship service
Truth be told, much of stress & anxiety we face on a daily basis can be prevented. And practical self-care can help us do so.
These are activities or tasks that we can do to organize or complete important aspects of your life that will likely help to avoid future stressful situations. Examples of these are:
- Organizing your days in your calendar
- Setting up reminders for important appointments & deadlines
- Creating a monthly (financial) budget
- Organizing your workspace
Read More: Staying Focused Amidst Chaos
Whether you’re working for someone or are self-employed, on average, at least 1/3rd of our lives is spent doing work so it makes sense that we’d need to set aside time for activities and actions that helps us to feel fulfilled and balanced professionally.
- Taking breaks during the work day
- ‘Check out’ once the work day is over (e.g: stop checking work emails, etc.)
- Taking personal days/ mental health days
- Use paid time off to go on vacation
- Working with a mentor or a life coach to support professional development
If you feel that your job/work is/has become one of the biggest causes of stress in anxiety in your life, it may be time to re-evaluate whether it’s worth it for you to stay in it.
For those who can afford it, quitting a bad job, can actually be the ultimate act of self-care.
I hope the insights I’ve shared above has helped you in getting more clarity as to what self-care is all about.
Cultivating a self-care routine is imperative in establishing and more importantly, maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul.
That said, it may take time for you to find a set of self-care practices that best resonate with you & your needs. What works for one person, may not work for another. Hence, I highly recommend creating a list of activities and tasks, and keep adding creative ideas to your personal self-care rotation.
This will keep your list fresh & fun and helps to keep you motivated in maintaining a self-care routine on a regular basis.
Looking for ideas that’ll help you self-care? Be sure to check out our Wellness Resources.