While we’re constantly juggling activities in our daily lives, we often overlook our health, moods, and actions. As the name suggests, self-care is anything you do to look after yourself - it could be as simple as taking a walk, organising your closet or taking a moment to think about your reactions or feelings. Often, self-care involves taking some time to introspect and work on your emotional health more mindfully.
It is also a way to learn about your stressors, what makes you happy, and how can you improve your well-being.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines self-care as “providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness”. The definition describes how important it is to give attention to your health and not put yourself on the back burner.
Self-care can be practised in many different ways and each person has their own unique methods. Knowing the different types can help you decide the best approach for yourself.
With multiple ways of consuming information, it is natural to get overwhelmed sometimes. This leads to various mental stresses such as lack of concentration, constant confusion, and difficulty in problem-solving. A few ways to practise mental self-care are:
Know when you need a break: Listening to your body means being mindful about how you feel and when things start to feel off or different. When it comes to needing a break, your body will usually indicate if it is overburdened or overwhelmed - they are to listen and do something about it!
Taking a break doesn’t really have to include doing something productive. You could simply relax, listen to your favourite song or enjoy your time by taking a short walk, lying down (if you’re at home) or watching your favourite show for a few minutes.
Follow a healthy sleep schedule: Having a good sleep schedule might be challenging in the beginning. Start by sleeping 1 hour earlier than usual and practice it for at least 30 days. Once we train our body toward sleeping at a specific time, our circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) gets aligned with our typical day.
Learn something new: Learning something new helps you gain newer perspectives, and keeps your mind fresh and engaged. Our brain also acquires new pathways whenever we're doing a task for the first time. It could be as simple as learning how to paint or using a new tool. We must keep challenging ourselves while keeping our capacity in check.
Emotions and feelings are the core of how we perceive a situation and the world as a whole. It is important we take steps to regulate them and understand our reactions. Emotional self-care can be useful in evaluating why we face abrupt mood changes such as feeling deeply sad one day or very joyful or enthusiastic on another day.
It also enables us to cope with negative feelings, and helps us stay calm. While emotional self-care helps us understand our feelings, self-awareness is useful to know how our feelings affect other people. This makes us empathetic and helps us build stronger relations.
A few ways to practice emotional self-care:
Be mindful of yourself: Address your emotions whenever you feel overwhelmed and try not to be too hard on yourself. Remember, it's okay to feel certain things but know when to let the emotion go. Be conscious of what you say to yourself because that’s how you perceive a situation.
Practice journaling: Journaling doesn’t necessarily have to be your personal diary. It could include writing down what emotions you feel on a given day or a simple quote or a verse that describes your situation best. Make sure you’re consistent with your journaling because it becomes easy to identify what emotions you’re going through.
Set boundaries: Knowing when you need to say “No” is a habit that is difficult to adopt. But remember, you shouldn’t feel guilty for saying that you cannot meet someone after a specific time or cannot do a particular task. Setting boundaries can help you be more productive in your work, and keep you energetic, and even-tempered.
Practice gratitude: Gratitude is a virtue that helps you view the world with a positive lens. Note down three things that make you happy and try to be specific. It could be something in nature, a relation you cherish or anything you have benefited from.
Physical self-care is not only related to everything your body consumes but also what it does. It includes what you eat, the amount of body movement you engage in, your hygiene, and managing your medical health. Here are a few ways to include physical self-care in your everyday activities.
Be mindful of your eating habits
Maintain your personal hygiene to reduce illness
Attend regular health checkups
Financial problems can cause several stresses leading to anxiety and other mental health issues. While self-care cannot change certain realities, it can help us prioritise based on our needs. Keeping a regular check on our spending & saving habits can help us overcome unforeseen events, avoid debt, and also keep us financially independent. A few ways to practise financial self-care are:
Maintain a budget (using a financial planner can help)
Keep due dates in check and pay bills on time
Avoid impulsive buying
Review your bills at the end of each month to highlight any unnecessary expenses
Invest and be aware of economic fluctuations
Mundane activities often lead to a sense of accomplishment. How often have you seen your inbox cluttered and kept it that way? Arranging your space helps you be more focused and calm. Here are some tips:
Maintain a to-do-list
Organise your closet
Keep your working space tidy
Manage your screen time
Self-care is more than just being happy. It includes finding ways to be your best self, addressing your emotions honestly and working on yourself in small ways that add up. A consistent self-care routine can also do wonders for your mental and physical health.
Self-care is beneficial for every person, whether or not they’re going through a mental or physical illness. It is a way to take charge of your mental health and enhance your well-being. For people who feel they’re not ready for therapy, self-care can act as a medium to uplift their emotions and mood.
While self-care can improve our lives, it cannot completely eliminate or help us recover from a disorder.
According to the APA (American Psychological Association), you should approach a therapist when something causes distress and interferes with your regular functioning.
Tracking your moods and emotions can help you know when is the best time to opt for therapy.
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Forbes. Practicing Self-Care Is Important: 10 Easy Habits To Get You Started. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/payout/2017/09/19/practicing-self-care-is-important-10-easy-habits-to-get-you-started/?sh=65281fbd283a
Greatist. 25 Science-Backed Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself. Retrieved from https://greatist.com/happiness/ways-to-practice-self-care
Moderntherapy. 8 areas of Self-care. Retrieved from https://moderntherapy.online/blog-2/areas-of-self-care
VeryWellMind. 5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/self-care-strategies-overall-stress-reduction-3144729