Self-care is defined as any purposeful action you do to take care of your mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health. It is unique for each person. Self-care is also preventative as many symptoms arise when we are not doing enough self-care. When self-care slips it shows up as body symptoms (aches, stiffness), healthy routines not kept, increased time escaping (screen time, eating, drinking) and feeling irritable, angry, blah and ‘off.’
Self care acts as a barometer of our wellbeing. Every act of self-care you make sends a signal to your unconscious that you are committed to respecting yourself. This raises your self-worth and helps you move away from cycles of low moods.
Self care can also help you with healthier relationships. It shows others that, just as you treat yourself with respect, you expect them to treat you with respect. And if you are practicing high self care you will naturally choose relationships with others who are invested in taking good care of themselves
Common barriers to self-care include: money, time, feeling uncomfortable to ask for help or set boundaries, fear (of doing something new or other), negative reactions from others, and feeling that we don’t deserve it. Identify your barriers and plan how you will address them.
Start by assessing the different areas of self-care as you may be covering one aspect and missing another one.
Physical self-care includes: nutrition, sleep/rest, exercise (any physical activity), progressive muscle relaxation, body work (massage), and medical care.
Emotional self-care involves the daily expression of our feelings. If not, one becomes frustrated, irritable, moody and resentful. We may become weepy or angry for no apparent reason. It is important to be around people and do activities you enjoy, journal, allow yourself to cry, and use positive self affirmations.
Our psychological self-care is addressed by becoming aware of our inner dialogue. What (non-nurturing) messages are you listening to about situations, others and yourself? Catch these thoughts, stop them, and reframe them using compassion. Psychological self-care also includes setting healthy boundaries with others, being assertive, minimizing stress, being open to new experiences, honouring what you want to do, and self-reflection.
Spiritual self-care involves activities which bring deeper meaning, awe, connection, joy, peace and inspiration to you. This could be mediation, being in nature, art, music, community involvement, being open to not knowing, and trusting something bigger than you.
As you explore how you choose to manage self-care, keep in mind these questions:
- Is this a choice that shows self respect and kindness?
- Am I comfortable with this choice?
- Is this the best thing possible for me? If not, what is?
- Is this what I deeply want for myself? Does it bring me a sense of peace and joy?
- Does this decision or action make me feel positive and forward moving?
- What other choice, goal, or action could I make in this area of my life that would help me feel better about myself?