Sometimes, self-care looks like a box of chocolates and a movie. Other times, it takes a whole lot more effort than that. These are the four areas of self-care.
1. Emotional Self-Care
Emotional self-care involves accepting your emotions and taking action to resolve emotional distress. Blocking out negative emotions is not self-care. For example, if social media is causing you to feel jealous or sad, you must take action to alleviate this distress. This might involve taking a break from social media, or researching how it affects other people. Nothing is better self-care than learning about why you feel the way you do.
Emotional self-care includes maintaining relationships. One important thing to do for yourself is to set boundaries. You need boundaries around your time and your energy. It’s ideal to set these boundaries early on in a relationship, but you can have a conversation about your personal boundaries at any time. For example, if text messages are draining to you, let others know that texts are okay, but not to expect a message every minute or hour. If someone only contacts you when they want something, set a clear boundary about reciprocal benefits.
Give your love and time to people who improve your quality of life. When your emotions are low, it’s good to spend time with people who make you laugh and help you relax. You should also do the same for them. Taking care of other people is also emotional self-care. Be consistent with your plans, give gifts, or do anything to make your loved ones smile. Feeling appreciated is uplifting, and definitely a form of self-care.
2. Physical Self-Care
Physical self-care includes what you eat, how you move, and how you rest. Taking care of your body is essential, because you cannot get a new one.
The first must to practice physical self-care is eating quality foods. What you eat directly affects your energy levels. Processed or sugary foods can leave you feeling lethargic and unable to focus. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s not naturally occurring, it’s probably not great for your body– think soda and potato chips. Eating too many low quality foods can lead to diseases like Diabetes and Heart Disease. Not eating enough food can lead to a poor immune system that leaves you unable to defend your body from transmitted diseases.
Physical self-care also means physical activity. You don’t have to be an olympic athlete, but you should at the very least be walking for a minimum of thirty minutes a day. Even at a desk job, you can incorporate five minutes of walking into each hour. It’s not too demanding, and the effects of exercise on the body are extremely beneficial.
Sleep is a huge component of self-care. Too little sleep can leave you in situations that range from uncomfortable to dangerous. From falling asleep at the desk, to falling asleep at the wheel, you do not want to experience a terrible situation brought on by too little sleep. This means making sleep a priority over assignments or fun times.
It’s also very important to rest when you are sick– this means calling out of work. If you are pushing your body while it is trying to heal itself you will get progressively worse. Always prioritize your health.
3. Psychological Self-Care
Psychological self-care means aiming to think deeper and learn more. A good place to start is analyzing what is currently going on in your mind. Are you stressed? Manic? Why do you feel these things? To learn more about what’s happening internally, you need to get them out.
This can mean something as simple as writing in a journal, or having a chat with your friend or family member. It is also hugely beneficial to seek counseling, even if you don’t believe you have any mental concerns. Therapists and counselors are professionals at having a clear outside eye and can help you see things you never noticed before. This drives personal growth.
Psychological self-care also drives professional development. You should never stop learning and improving at what you do. Taking classes and reading books are good ways to prevent becoming intellectually stagnant. You should also be pushing yourself to aim for a better paying or more respected role. Staying in the same place forever is no fun, and your psyche benefits from feelings of accomplishment.
4. Spiritual Self-Care
Spiritual self-care includes self-reflection, creativity, and activism. An example of a great spiritual practice for self-reflection is meditation. Meditation allows you to notice what is on your mind and let it go. Spending time with nature is also a very good way to practice spiritual self-care. The goal is to lessen the feeling of yourself being everything, and remember that you are one part of a massive universe. There is comfort to be found in being less egocentric.
Another part of spiritual self-care is expressing creativity. Creativity keeps the mind young and bright. Creativity can come in the form of artwork, writing, performance, cooking, or many other things. It helps you deal with and express stress or difficult emotions. Creative projects can also help shift your perspective. There is even a form of therapy called art therapy. Art therapy is a form of therapy that allows people to express themselves creatively and analyze the emotional undertones in their own artwork. This is proven to assist in relieving symptoms of anxiety, stress, and trauma.
Activism is a grand way to practice spiritual self-care. Having something important to you is fantastic, and it’s very healthy to want to improve the world. Activism can be a campaign for helping groups of people, the environment, or even political parties. Pushing for change is amazing no matter what perspective you hold. Activism can be practiced passively by writing letters and campaigning on the internet, or actively via marches or rallies. As long as there is a change you want to see, there is something to fight for.
These are the four general areas of self-care. What are some things that weren’t included that you think are important to self-care? Please let me know in the comments.