July 24 marks International Self-Care Day, an annual opportunity to put a spotlight on self-care and the benefit effective self-care can bring to both individuals and healthcare systems as a vital foundation of health. But what exactly is Self-Care? Self-care is quite literally taking care of yourself. Your whole self.
Self-care has been defined as, “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being.”
Unfortunately, many people view self-care as a luxury, rather than a priority. And consequently, can be left feeling overwhelmed and tired, and struggle to handle life’s inevitable challenges.
It’s important to assess how you’re caring for yourself in several different domains so you can ensure you’re caring for your whole self.
Types of Self-Care
Physical self-care includes how you’re fueling your body, how much sleep you’re getting, how much physical activity you are doing, and how well you’re caring for your physical needs. Attending appointments, taking medication as prescribed, and managing your health are all part of good physical self-care.2
When it comes to physical self-care, ask yourself the following questions to assess whether there might be some areas you need to improve:
- Are you getting adequate sleep?
- Is your diet fueling your body well?
- Are you taking charge of your health?
- Are you getting enough exercise?
Socialization is key to self-care. But, often, it’s hard to make time for friends and it’s easy to neglect your relationships when life gets busy. Close connections are important to your well-being. The best way to cultivate and maintain close relationships is to put time and energy into building your relationships with others.
There isn’t a certain number of hours you should devote to your friends or work on your relationships. Everyone has slightly different social needs. The key is to figure out what your social needs are and to build enough time in your schedule to create an optimal social life.
To assess your social self-care, consider:
- Are you getting enough face-to-face time with your friends?
- What are you doing to nurture your relationships with friends and family?
The way you think and the things that you’re filling your mind with greatly influence your psychological well-being.
Mental self-care includes doing things that keep your mind sharp, like learning about a subject that fascinates you. You might find reading books or watching movies that inspire you fuels your mind.
Mental self-care involves doing things that help you stay mentally healthy. Practicing self-compassion and acceptance, for example, helps you maintain a healthier inner dialogue.
Here are a few questions to consider when you think about your mental self-care:
- Are you making enough time for activities that mentally stimulate you?
- Are you doing proactive things to help you stay mentally healthy?
It’s important to have healthy coping skills to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like anger, anxiety, and sadness. Emotional self-care may include activities that help you acknowledge and express your feelings on a regular basis.
Whether you talk to a partner or close friend about how you feel, or you set aside time for leisure activities that help you process your emotions, it’s important to incorporate emotional self-care into your life.
When assessing your emotional self-care strategies, consider these questions:
- Do you have healthy ways to process your emotions?
- Do you incorporate activities into your life that help you feel recharged?
Where to learn more about Self-Care:
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