As I see more and more of the people around me feeling overwhelmed, downtrodden and burnt out, I figured it was a good idea to take some time today to write about self-care. It is important to note that self-care is more than just a bubble bath or that good book, but should encompass various aspects of your life in order to be effective. And as someone who is not always good at encompassing self-care effectively, this is a good way for me to hold myself accountable as well!
Now, self-care is going to look different for everyone depending on what works for them, or what their needs may encompass. However, it is important to consider the following aspects to ensure that you are finding balance. Balance is the only way that you, and me, will be able to ensure self-care is being utilized completely. So below, I list some ideas to help create that balance.
1. Physical Self- Care
This is one of the most important ones as it encompasses those things that we usually put off the most. It can be as huge as safe housing and as simple as eating healthy. This component is important because it focuses on the physical things that we have control over. Getting a good nights sleep. Going for a walk. Turning off your cell phone for a bit. Massages. And just taking some “me” time and whatever that looks like for you.
2. Psychological Self-Care
This is taking the time to reflect and use your brain! This can include journaling, go to the theatre, gardening or reading a self-help book. It is about reflection, self-awareness and considering the mind-body connection when it comes to self-care. It can be as intense as joining a support group or going to counselling or as simple as aromatherapy or relaxing in the sun. It is about taking the time to listen to what your mind is telling you and then acting on it.
3. Emotional Self-Care
This is exactly what it sounds like. Feeling those emotions that we all tend to push down when they feel uncomfortable. Cry. Laugh. Tell people you love them and ask for that love back. Cuddle with your pet (or your friends pet if you don’t have one). It is about feeling those emotions, good and bad, and figuring out the ways in which you need to process them. This is where you practice self-love, forgiveness and positive affirmations.
4. Spiritual Self-Care
Yes, this can mean attending a religious ceremony or praying to a higher power. But it can also mean finding spirituality in other components as well. Meditate. Volunteer. Dance. Sing. Go be in nature. The list for this is endless. It is about considering the universe and the world as a whole to help you discover how you fit into it and where you can strengthen your own meaning.
5. Personal Self-Care
This is the planning part of self-care. It is the space that you create for yourself where you consider, plan or put into action your long or short term goals. Write. Cook. Learn a new skill. Socialize with that friend you haven’t see in awhile. It is about considering which parts of your life are adding to your stress and seeing if there are any steps you can take to ease it.
6. Professional Self-Care
This is looking at your employment, sure, but it is also about practicing self-care while you are at work too. Making sure you take a lunch break. Leaving work at work. Learning to say no. And using your vacation days so you get some time away from work too. For those who no longer work, it is about determining other ways in which you want to learn. It can be taking a class. Learning a new skill. Or even as simple as setting boundaries.
There you go. Got it? Ensure you are doing something from each category and your stress will disappear! Well, obviously not quite.
I, like I imagine the rest of you, will do really good in one component of this and crap in the other. For example, my professional self-care has been poor lately and then I wonder why I am feeling overwhelmed at work. Common sense there April. But, the most important part of doing proper self-care is not making it another thing that you feel bad about. It is about considering and doing things that help ease your stress, not add to it. It is called “practicing” self care for a reason. And it will change over the course of your life as you do.
But, the most important part of all of this is that self-care is NOT selfish. Putting yourself first and taking steps to be your best self is helpful for not only you, but those around you as well. Keep that in mind as you take time to do one, or any of these things. Keep that in mind if someone tries to tell you different. And keep that in mind as you strive to continue to find your own self-care balance.
I will do the same.