What Self-Care is, and what it is not!
“There’s a quiet strength in being gentle with yourself.
Strength in withholding some of your effort and energy if it means knowing you’re choosing self-care and survival over self-sabotage and a mental breakdown.”
~ Daniell Koepke
Nowadays Self-care is commonly perceived as a way to "escape our lives" through immediate pleasure. A one-time experience every time we are already feeling exhausted or ill.
But, taking care of our physical and emotional well-being should not be seen as an occasional act, but rather as a daily commitment to build a life where you feel healthy, joyful, and happily fulfilled.
The way I see it, self-care is about becoming your own hero and savior or "the parent you always wished you had" by taking full-on responsibility for our health and long-term well-being.
This includes making the choices and creating the habits that we feel like doing the least, such as:
Letting go of all forms of running from your problems or self-sabotage (e.g. liquor, procrastination, hectic, and unreasonable life expectations).
Learning how to meet your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people. This might include creating a set of regular experiences or habits that honor your self-worth and empower yourself to live your best life (e.g. enforcing a morning routine, cleaning and decluttering your house, sweat through another workout; cooking yourself healthy meals...).
Choosing a life that that feels good (over a life that looks good). A life where you feel honest, proud, and wholesome, even if it is disappointing for some people.
Looking at your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing.
Giving up on some of your egoic goals so you can have the time to care and connect with others.
Learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start lovingly accepting and taking care of yourself. Learn to Love your normal, ordinary, and unexceptional self. (Even if this normal self is someone with a dirty kitchen, with no 6 pack abs, with not so many friends or extraordinary side hustles).
This commitment to yourself will inevitably have a tremendous impact not only on your overall health but also on your relationships and daily interactions. (Especially, in your close relationships where exhaustion and tiredness tend to give rise to empty attempts to find blame and fault.)
In psychology, self-care is seen as a multidimensional process of conscious engagement in strategies that support the person's health and well-being. This includes attending to 5 different domains of well-being: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social.
Here's a little bit about each of these self-care dimensions, a couple of questions to assess each one, and some tips on how to attend to each one!
Physical self-care includes how you're nurturing and feeding your body.
Ask yourself these questions to assess whether there might be some areas you need to improve:
How much sleep are you getting?
Do you feel refreshed and revitalized in the morning?
Are you exercising regularly?
Are you eating properly? or Is your diet fueling your body well?
Some ideas to nurture this dimension include proper diet, exercising, resting, body awareness meditation/relaxation, conscious movement, and an adequate sleeping schedule.
It's important to have healthy coping mechanisms and activities that help you acknowledge and express your feelings regularly. Especially, socially unacceptable or uncomfortable emotions, such as anger, anxiety, grief, and sadness.
When assessing your emotional self-care consider these questions:
Do you have healthy ways to process your emotions?
Do you incorporate activities into your life that help you feel recharged?
Are there emotions you are not currently expressing?
Do you have emotional outbursts?
Some ideas to nurture this dimension include talking to a therapist, partner, or a close friend about how you feel, or set aside time for leisure activities that help you process your emotions, such as writing, painting, or dancing.
Mental self-care also involves doing things that help you stay mentally healthy.
On one hand, mental self-care requires activities that keep your mind calm and focused to balance the constant demands of modern living. This might include the practice of meditation, yoga, breathwork, or other meditative practices.
On the other hand, it important to fuel your mind with positive content that keeps you inspired, and motivated. You can feed it with books, blogs, movies, podcasts that inspire you, or by learning about a subject that fascinates you.
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?
Besides, practices such as forgiveness, self-compassion, and kindness, can help you maintain a healthier mindscape.
Socialization and close connections are key to self-care.
Nevertheless, when time becomes scarce it's human to start neglecting our friendships and close relationships.
The best way to counteract this tendency is to put time and energy into building and maintaining 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?
Nurturing your spirit can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with both yourself and life.
Whether it's through a meditative practice, a religious service, or praying, spiritual self-care is essential for your overall well-being.
As you consider your spiritual life, ask yourself:
Are you engaging in practices that help you connect with yourself and your sense of purpose?
Ultimately, self-care is about becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that the good things in life (e.g. a delicious meal, salt baths, a date with friends, chocolate cake) are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.
Because that person is already Extraordinarily and Magnanimously Deserving in all its human imperfection.
The question is, How are you going to honor yourself today?