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Self-Care Is Different For Everyone

by
Linda Larkin
|
Jul 24, 2020

When we think of what it means to be healthy, we typically think of exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and avoiding things we know are harmful for our bodies. However, we often overlook self-care which is the foundation of mental health and it merits to hold a consistent, sacred position in our lives.  If your physical body is in excellent condition and you’re eating a balanced diet but your mind is in continual chaos or overwhelm and you live in a state of stress and anxiety, this can be detrimental to your overall health.

Self-care is an activity we choose to engage in for our emotional, physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, practical and professional well-being. The benefits of self-care include:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased energy and immunity
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Greater patience and resilience
  • Improved physical health, mood and emotional well-being
  • Greater self-compassion and self-awareness
  • Better ability to care for and be present for others

Emotional Self-Care

Our ability to connect, reflect and process our emotions and cope with difficult feelings that arise is important to our overall mental health.  Examples of self-care activities to address your emotional needs include:

  • Journaling your feelings
  • Talking to a friend, partner, coach, therapist, or spiritual mentor
  • Creating art or a visual feeling journal, playing music, or working in your garden
  • Utilizing affirmations or mantras

If you struggle with controlling your emotions, are easily triggered emotionally, affected by others’ negative moods, you may find this self-care area important to practice routinely. The best means to tend to your emotional self-care is to pay attention to your internal self-dialogue. Being aware if you’re engaging in negative self-talk is an important preliminary step toward breaking an unhealthy habit. The second step is to replace that negative self-talk with words that are loving and kind. Also check and discern your critical inner voice to see if it has something of value for you to look at and analyze. By regularly engaging in emotional self-care and learning to give yourself grace, you can develop a healthy coping process that can improve your contentment.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care is what many of us typically believe when we hear the words self-care. This type of self-care refers to any physical activities you deliberately perform in to enhance your physical body.  A few examples include:

  • Being active (going for a walk, a bike ride, taking a fitness class, yoga, etc.)
  • Drinking plenty of water and having a healthy diet
  • Getting good 7-8 hours of sleep a night and taking a nap when needed
  • Receiving a massage regularly
  • Taking a relaxing bubble bath
  • Dancing to your favorite song or taking a dance class

Thus give some thought to what types of physical activities make you feel calm, balanced and content, and schedule regular time on your calendar to do them.

Intellectual Self-Care

Mental self-care encompasses anything you do specifically to stimulate your mind, intellect and that cultivates a healthy mind.  Some activities that fit under the intellectual self-care category include:

  • Listening to an interesting podcast
  • Trying a new hobby like learning chess
  • Going to a museum to see an exciting exhibit
  • Solving a challenging puzzle
  • Reading an intriguing book
  • Creating art, performing music, writing a poem

Social Self-Care

We are innately social beings which indicates we need consistent connection with others to thrive - even introverts. That is the reason to prioritize meetings and activities that nurture and deepen our relationships with others is crucial.  The issue is our lives get overwhelming thus we tend to cancel our plans.  So setting healthy boundaries and saying “no” is important to make time for social interaction. Remember how good you feel after a meaningful connection and talk with someone close to you.  Your relationships should uplift and fulfill you, not deflate and drain you.  Social self-care activities include:

  • Scheduling a regular touch-base with your friends and family
  • Hosting a routine gathering with your friends
  • Going on a date with your significant other or partner
  • Writing a card and mailing it to a loved one

Spiritual Self-Care

This form of self-care applies to all whether or not you are religious, spiritual, atheist, agnostic, or otherwise. Spiritual self-care encompasses activities you engage in to connect with and nurture your inner spirit, essence or heart which for some may include activities that honor a belief in a higher power, God, the universe or whatever you call a greater spiritual presence but may look entirely different for different people.  Some illustrations of spiritual self-care include:

  • Spending time in nature
  • Engaging in prayer or attending a worship service
  • Practicing yoga or meditation or having a mindfulness practice
  • Volunteering for a heart-felt cause you care deeply about
  • Creating art like a vision board, practicing music or anything that lights you up and inspires you

Practical Self-Care

Everyday core activities can be considered self-care.  These forms of self-care are admittedly less interesting than others but is not to be undervalued.  They can be significant sanity-savers and help create a greater sense of calm and control in our active lives.  These practical self-care items may include:

  • Organizing or catching up your email inbox
  • Tidying or arranging your living space
  • Creating a budget and meeting with a financial advisor
  • Setting out your clothes for the week in advance
  • Cuddling with a furry animal to create calm
  • Meal planning and prepping

Professional Self-Care

It is essential to make time for professional self-care. These are the activities and actions that support feeling balanced and fulfilled in your career.  Professional self-care instances include:

  • Setting a calendar reminder to take a lunch break and end your day
  • Spending time with coworkers during lunch and after hours
  • Setting your phone to Do Not Disturb at the end of your day
  • Taking online courses, conferences, or working with a mentor to support your career path
  • Taking a mental health or sick day when you need it

Self-Care Ideas

The essence of self-care is about being kind and honoring to yourself, your needs and caring for yourself to function at your highest self.  While we are all distinct, one person’s idea of self-care is not necessarily someone else’s - thus you will want to try different ideas to keep your mind, body and spirit refreshed.

  • Pick an affirmation to meditate on that resonates with you
  • Take a luxurious bath or a pampering shower.
  • Go for a walk in nature
  • Write in your journal
  • Do something creative - make a vision board, play some music
  • Enjoy a cup of your favorite tea
  • Have a spa night
  • Meditate
  • Take a nap
  • Call a loved one
  • Write a letter to someone special
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Do some yoga
  • Go exploring with no destination
  • Try a new hobby
  • Get in your garden
  • Cook a relaxing and lavish healthy meal for yourself
  • Listen to music or a podcast
  • Visit a local museum or zoo
  • Book a retreat
  • Tidy and organize your living space
  • Treat yourself to dinner out
  • Get a massage or bodywork
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Play a game
  • Write a poem
  • Practice gratitude
  • Dance to your favorite song
  • Make yourself a batch of infused water
  • Fix yourself a healthy smoothie or snack
  • Start a compliments file
  • Start a healthy habit
  • Unplug from your devices for an hour
  • Purge your social media of negative or toxic people
  • Be still and do absolutely nothing
  • Breathe in an uplifting or calming essential oil
  • Soak up some sun
  • Cuddle with a pet
  • Treat yourself to something you value
  • Go to bed early
  • Pick or buy yourself flowers
  • Take a mental health day
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Take an online class
  • Write a love letter to yourself
  • Take a breathing and stretching break
  • Watch a favorite movie, comedy or interesting show
  • Simplify your schedule
  • Define your core values
  • Take or watch a new exercise class

Establish a Unique Self-Care Routine that Works

Take some mindfulness time to complete a self-care assessment on which types of self-care are most vital to you and your well-being and create a unique self-care list. Your list may evolve over time as you find the optimal self-care elements that most resonate with you. Remember that your self-care list will be different than other people’s as you are an amazingly distinctive person!

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