All the stress relief activities in the world won’t help if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Self-care is vital for building resilience towards the life stressors that we can’t get rid of. It’s about knowing when your resources are running low and stepping back to replenish them rather than letting them drain all away. In a nutshell, it’s about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others.
Without assessing how we care for ourselves within the eight different domains, we are unwittingly prolonging the feelings associated with stress. Instead, by implementing some self-care practices within the following five practices, we can improve our productivity, resistance to disease, physical health, self-esteem and self-knowledge.
1. Physical Self-Care
You need to take care of your body if you want it to run effectively.
- Are you getting adequate sleep?
- Is your diet fueling your body well?
- Are you taking charge of your health?
- Are you getting enough exercise?
Remember though – physical self-care is as much about the things you don’t do as the things you do. So:
- Nap when you need to, even 20 minutes is enough time to make you feel mentally and physically refreshed
- Say “no” to invitations when you’re simply too tired to enjoy them or would prefer to be alone
- Don’t push yourself to do your exercise routine when you’re run down or unwell
- Try to commit to 7-9 hours of sleep per night
2. Social Self-Care
Depending on whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, social self-care may look different. However, socialization is important to your well-being as it provides the opportunity to form close connections and supports. It helps you to understand that you’re not alone, while also providing a sense of being fully “seen” by others. This, in particular, can help combat loneliness and isolation.
However, social self-care isn’t just about doing things with others for the sake of companionship, it’s about choosing to do things with people who make you feel good. So… how’s your social life? Do you need to make time to go out more? Are you ready to try to get out there and date? Do you find yourself committing to social situations when you really don’t want to?
It’s important to honor your social needs. Introverts recharge by spending time alone since they typically begin to feel drained when they spend a lot of time with other people. Extroverts get recharged by being around other people, as they prefer to be in social situations. A lot of people are a mix of both at different times and in different situations and with different people – social self-care asks you to learn what amount of “people-ing” is right for you and when.
3. Personal Self-Care
It’s fairly easy to get tied up in how other people feel about you and what they think about you. This can cause you to get lost in between others’ wants and expectations. Often times you change yourself to fit into your surroundings. Sometimes this is okay, as we all do it to some extent in our daily lives, but it becomes a problem when you forget (or never discover) who you are deep down inside.
Personal self-care is about discovering your true self.
How do you practice it? Any way you want!
Try new things to discover what you really like and what you don’t. Find what makes you happy. Spend quality time alone. Even if you’re an extrovert, learn how to enjoy solitude. Make time for your hobbies and the things that bring you joy, and go for what you really want in life.
Discover all of the things you are.
4. Spiritual Self-Care
If you’re not religious, you may be tempted to skip this section, however, spiritual self-care does not only include church or prayer. It’s about taking care of your soul. All parts of you work together to create a healthy life and understanding all the parts of who you are, including your values and the things that matter most to you, is essential for happiness.
What things honor your spirit? Answer that question and then do those things. Go to church, go out in nature, do yoga or just read a really good book. Find out what you believe. Get rid of everything that was forced onto you as you were growing up and come up with what you truly believe. It’s okay if it’s different, it’s okay if it’s the same, just do what feels right within your soul.
Spiritual self-care involves developing a deeper sense of meaning, understanding and/or connection with the universe, which can form the belief that ‘there’s something bigger than yourself’ – a belief that can be very grounding during stressful or overwhelming moments.
5. Emotional Self-Care
When you feel unpleasant emotions, like anger, jealousy or shame – how do you deal with it? Do you beat yourself up over it? Do you blame yourself for being too weak or sensitive when you let things get to you? Or are you the kind of that person that never lets anything rattle them; the type who prefers to be busy instead of allowing time to feel the things that hurt?
Emotional self-care is about reacting to your emotions in a healthy way, having good coping mechanisms and cultivating emotional intelligence. This means being able to be aware of what you’re feeling, when you’re feeling it, and why you ‘re feeling it. It’s about accepting your emotions and remembering that we are human. Things like jealousy, anger, and hurt are real and valid, and they deserve to be explored. Some days you may be able to accept how you’re feeling and move on; other days there may be times when you’re an emotional mess and nothing will make you feel better. And that is ok. Be patient and loving to yourself – sometimes the only way to heal is by quietly understanding.
You can start working on your emotional self-care right now just by changing the tone of your internal voice. No more calling yourself names, putting yourself down or comparing yourself to others. Turn your inner voice into one of comfort by improving the way you talk to yourself. Stop guilting yourself over every little thing you’ve ever done wrong, remove constant “shoulds” from your vocabulary, and ask yourself what you really want right now (and ask it again, and again, multiple times a day). Set good emotional boundaries. If something or someone triggers you, know when to step back.
Incorporate activities into your life that help you feel recharged.
Develop your own Self-Care Plan
Self-care isn’t one size fits all. Assess which areas of your life need some more attention and create a plan for change. You don’t have to tackle everything all once, instead identify one small step you can take to begin caring for yourself better. Then, schedule time to focus on your needs.
Make your self-care a priority. Reassess your life often. As the situation changes, your self-care needs are likely to shift too.
- 6 Types of Self-Care You Need to Know. BlessingManifesting.
- Hurst, Katherine. What is Self-Care and Why is Self-Care Important? Law of Attraction.
- Scott, MS, Elizabeth. 5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life. verywellmind. 2019.
- Art by: Stephanie Deangelis via @STEPH_ANGELIS, Ashley Lukashevsky via @ASHLUKADRAWS, john carne blog