Self-care. Everyone’s talking about it but do we really understand what it is? Is it just the latest buzz word to throw out in conversations? Self-care is the process of intentional behaviours that promote one’s holistic well-being. That is, the purposeful actions that we take to take care of our whole selves – mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially. As such, it is not a luxury, it is a priority.
Engaging in a self-care routine has been shown to be associated with a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression, strengthens relationships, improves one’s ability to adapt to changes, and increases energy. It can take many forms and is unique to each individual. What I may need in order to facilitate my health and well-being may be completely different to what you may need.
Mental self-care involves taking part in activities that stimulate and engage your mind. For example, reading books, listening to podcasts, and learning a new skill. Emotional self-care encompasses learning how to understand our feelings and express them safely, as well as having healthy coping skills for emotions that can be difficult to manage such as anger and sadness. Tips for emotional self-care include journaling to help you understand your feelings/emotions and their source, in addition to therapy that can help you to process your emotions/feelings and develop healthy coping skills, and mindfulness which allows us to focus on the here and now which can help to reduce feelings of anxiety.
Physical self-care comprises taking care of our bodies. It includes things such as how many hours of sleep that we get per night, what foods we are using to nourish our bodies, how much water we are drinking, what kind and how much exercise we engage in, and what we do to manage our health such as having our check-ups and taking our supplements and medications.
Social self-care involves cultivating and sustaining social connections. It is important to know what connections are important to you and to make the time needed to keep those relationships healthy. Spending time with the people that you love is a wonderful way to take care of our mental health.
Think about your life. What areas do you need to give more attention and self-care? What are some activities that you can engage in that can help you to feel better in those areas? Incorporate small steps over time that can help you to better take care of yourself.
Ms. Odelia Thomas