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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:
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:
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 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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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!