Self-care is pretty straight forward; it’s taking care of yourself. It’s consciously doing something for your own mental, and physical well-being. Self-care is cultivating a healthy relationship with yourself and maintaining the best version of yourself. Most importantly, self-care is not selfish.
WHAT IS SELF-CARE?
“Self-care” is personal and different for everyone. What’s important is that the action is something good for your mind, body, or soul. This can include reading a book, taking a bubble bath, cleaning out your basement, giving yourself a facial, watching a funny video, taking a nap, etc.
WHY IS SELF-CARE IMPORTANT
The speech you hear from a flight attendant before take-off is a perfect analogy; put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else. When you’re focusing on your own health and happiness, you’re not just taking care of your own needs, you’re benefiting the people around you, giving them the best version of you.
We are a part of a very work-central culture. We’re expected to work long hours, with little vacation time. However, we can only function like that for so long, eventually our productivity and efficiency will decrease. Not only will we start making more mistakes, but our morale, optimism, and energy will all drain. Giving yourself time off to relax, or be active, laugh, or sleep for a week; whatever your body needs, giving yourself this type of care has been clinically proven to:
- Minimize frustration and anger.
- Decrease stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Improve concentration.
- Increase energy and happiness.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an American organization; however, they have recognized that there are eight dimensions of wellness that work together to make us whole. The following are those dimensions with tips on improving each as an act of self-care.
- PHYSICAL WELLNESS, for example: Improving nutrition, adding physical activity, ensuring you get enough sleep.
- INTELLECTUAL WELLNESS, for example: Learning a new skill, exercising your brain with a crossword or sudoku puzzle, or reading.
- FINANCIAL WELLNESS, for example: Ensuring your savings are in line with your goals, paying off a debt, setting a budget.
- ENVIRONMENT WELLNESS, for example: Begin a recycling project at work, walk through the woods, clean and organize your office.
- SPIRITUAL WELLNESS, for example: Meditating, attending a religious service, volunteering in the community.
- SOCIAL WELLNESS, for example: Have lunch with a friend, find a support group, join a local service club.
- OCCUPATIONAL WELLNESS, for example: Improve a relationship with a coworker, do something that makes you proud, or offers a sense of accomplishment.
- EMOTIONAL WELLNESS, for example: Speak to a therapist or counsellor, write in a journal, watch a funny movie with a friend.
DEVELOPING YOUR SELF-CARE PLAN
Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a personal and customized act that will benefit you at that time. Not only might your self-care plan be different from someone else, but you might find your plan is different one year to the next.
When you start, you’ll assess the areas of your life that need more attention. You’ll reassess often, because as your life situation changes, your self-care need will as well.