August 8, 2023

What is Self-Care, and How Do I Do It?

By Maddie Sansom
Anxiety & Depression
Mental Health & Wellbeing

Self-care is a buzzword that people have been talking about and continue to talk about often as a part of our daily lives. Perhaps someone has asked you, “What do you do for self-care?” Or maybe you have heard someone justify an extreme action or splurge as “self-care.”

When the term first became popular, many people associated self-care with the only pampering activities we did for ourselves. I thought self-care seemed limited to pedicures, bath bombs, and face masks with cucumbers over the eyes. Then the word took a pendulum swing as people realized that self-care was more than what we do to our external body.

So, what is Self-Care?

Self-care is the daily activities and routines we do to promote holistic well-being. Self-care involves taking care of our physical body, mind, soul, spirit, and social life. Self-care helps us in the here and now with the goal of being preventative of poor health and well-being. Essentially, self-care is promoting things in our lives that fill us up and bring us back into alignment.

Self-Care for Our Bodies

Physical self-care means taking care of our bodies. This involves sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and hygiene. How we take care of our bodies directly impacts the other aspects of our lives. Healthy and fueling foods provide us with the energy we need and can even help balance hormones and gut health, with can directly affect our mood.

Exercise aids in burning stress hormones, which supports our mental well-being by alleviating the buildup of stress that often leads to anxiety and depression. And sleep is the key to proper daily functioning and carries us throughout our whole lives.

Beginning to implement physical health care can start with walking a couple of times a week for 30 minutes, going on a 15-minute jog, swimming, playing a sport, or lifting weights. Maybe clean eating starts with trying a new recipe or replacing a snack with a serving of fruit or vegetables.

Self-Care for the Mind

Taking care of our mental health is important for improved daily functioning. Many physical and social aspects directly correlate to our mental health, such as exercising, sleeping, fueling our bodies with food, and connecting with others.

Other important things that can promote mental health are journaling and practicing mindfulness. These are things that can be implemented into our everyday lives and keep us in tune with what is going on inside and can help keep us present.

Another helpful practice to incorporate into our lives is learning to express our emotions. Being able to talk to others about what is going on inside of us and label how we feel is healing for our mental health. Sharing emotions allows us to bear the weight of feelings no longer alone but allows us to bring light to the parts of us that we may be trying to keep hidden.

Setting goals for ourselves is also a helpful practice of self-care for our minds. It allows us to check in with ourselves on where we are and how we are living to grow in order to reach our goals.

Lastly, it is important to seek professional care for our mental health by seeking counseling. Maybe there are some things you are facing or have faced that you want help processing and working through. Therapy may be a helpful next step for you. Therapy can be for anyone, and it is a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow.

Social Self-Care

Another aspect of taking care of ourselves is tending to our social lives. Whether we are an introvert or extrovert, we all need other people. We are longing for community and support. Connection with others spurs us forward, allows us to go beyond ourselves, and helps us to know that we are not alone.

Social self-care can look like catching up with friends, a long phone call with a loved one, connecting with a coworker, family time, or friendly competition in recreational sports. It can feel harder than ever to stay connected when we think we are connected to so many people through social media and our phones, but it is important to put in the extra work to connect with people in a real and meaningful way.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care looks like tending to what connects us to God. It looks like spending time promoting our relationship with God and spending time in prayer, meditation, and worship. Maybe we feel connected to God in nature or through music and choose to spend our free time that way. Perhaps quiet time in the morning changes the trajectory of your day. Whatever allows you to connect to God is important for your well-being.

Soul Care

Self-care for the soul is a combination of all the previous aspects mentioned. It involves taking care of our mind, body, spirit, and social lives. Soul care is anything that lifts your spirits, grounds you, and allows you to feel rested or recharged.

This can look like a mixture of things. Maybe it is taking the night to take a hot bath and tend to your nails that have been neglected. Perhaps it is reading a book or watching your favorite show at night. It could be going for a run, baking, talking with a friend, playing a sport, drawing, journaling, or it is as simple as going and getting ice cream from your favorite shop.

I know that for me, cracking open a cold Coke with lime does wonders for my morale after a long day. Other times, I can tell my soul is longing for a deep and meaningful conversation where I can openly share what is on my mind and heart.

Every day is different, and self-care can continually look different. It is important to establish helpful habits of self-care that we can put into practice daily and weekly, and it is also important to listen to your mind and body and do what will be helpful for you day by day. Somedays, that might look like pushing yourself at the gym. On other days it might look like laying low and allowing yourself to rest. Maybe it looks like deleting social media and allowing yourself to stop comparing.

Whatever it may be, you know yourself better than anyone else. Practice taking a pause and reflecting on how you are feeling and what you need. And give yourself the gift of self-care.

Written By

Maddie Sansom

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