Self-care is an action an individual takes to promote their overall health and well-being. These actions can be physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and/or spiritually focused. The purpose behind self-care is to ensure we are setting aside time and giving attention to our individual needs. Self-care has many benefits such as improved self-esteem, reduced stress/anxiety, lower risk of illness, and increased energy level. It is essential to meet our physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual needs to support a fulfilled life and ensure our well-being. Let’s take a deeper look into each aspect of self-care and what practices one can partake in to gain the benefits.
Physical self-care focuses on building and maintaining a healthy body. The body and mind work together in many ways, therefore having a strong healthy body supports a strong healthy mind. Because of this, not only are you healthier physically when you practice physical self-care, but you are also improving mentally. Physical self-care can improve factors such as self-esteem, mood, energy, confidence, and physical health. Physical self-care activities can include eating nutritiously, staying hydrated, having good sleep habits, and engaging in physical activities like walking, biking, or going to the gym.
Mental self-care focuses on clearing your mind to reduce any mental barriers such as stress or anxiety, while at the same time improving thought processes and decision-making. As we discussed above, the mind and body work together so physical activities are supportive of one’s mental health. Practicing mindfulness is another great option for mental self-care. Mindfulness is any activity that supports clearing your mind, such as listening to music, meditation, or breathing exercises.
Emotional self-care involves practices that help a person recognize, acknowledge, and express their feelings in a healthy manner. Emotional health contributes to other aspects of our health like mental and physical. Practicing emotional self-care can help you feel better about yourself, improve relationships, and result in better regulation of emotions. Finding healthy ways to express emotions such as journaling, daily affirmations, or setting and maintaining boundaries with others, will benefit one’s emotional well-being.
Social self-care consists of activities that promote and build strong connections between an individual and others. In turn, building and maintaining these relationships provides a support system that one can rely on. Spending quality time with friends and family improves a person’s happiness, mental health, emotional health, and physical health. Activities can include a date night with a significant other, dinner with friends, or a game night with family. Additionally, limiting social media can be another form of social self-care.
Spiritual self-care involves practices that result in a deeper sense of meaning and a connection to a higher power. It allows us to gain a better sense of who we are individually while also expanding beyond ourselves to something greater. Through this care, one can find peace, experience stronger connections with others, and be better prepared for dealing with life stressors. Spiritual self-care does not need to be religiously focused although for some it may be. Practices may include meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, and self-reflection.
No matter what form of self-care you take, practicing self-care is essential to your overall health. Many practices cover a variety of self-care aspects. Let’s take journaling for example. Journaling is supportive of emotional self-care, but it also can be useful for mental and spiritual self-care. Or meditation which can be helpful for spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical self-care. No matter what practice a person decides to partake in, it is likely to benefit a variety of self-care aspects.
Self-care is something that can be practiced daily but incorporating an activity just one to two times a week can be beneficial. Taking 10 minutes each day to practice a breathing exercise, meditate, or journal can be enough to see changes in one’s mood, energy, and overall well-being. Engaging in self-care whether it be weekly or daily is impactful. The main thing is finding the time so you can reap the benefits of prioritizing self-care. Living a longer, more productive life where you feel joy, love, confidence, and a variety of positive health outcomes is the result of practicing self-care.
No matter who you are or what you do, self-care is supportive of your physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. If you are new and considering self-care, start once a week and slowly transition to more as you go. Try a variety of practices to find which ones benefit you most and work well into your life. If you are already practicing self-care, try to incorporate some new practices that focus on areas you have not focused on yet. Strive to become the best you by building a deep connection with yourself and prioritizing self-care to meet your needs and improve your overall well-being.
Shelley Plontke, Intern