What is Self-Care?
Self-care is simply described as the conscious effort of enhancing one’s mental well-being, though many self-care activities also promote physical, social, and emotional health as well. It’s a technique used as a way to protect the mind from the many stressors that occur in life. Small levels of stress aren’t harmful, but higher stress levels can cause both physical and mental health issues.
Self-care practices differ among individuals, with some acts of self-care being as luxurious as a day at the spa, and others being as simple as getting enough sleep at night. However you choose to practice self-care, make sure to practice at least one activity in each of the five types.
The 5 Types of Self-Care
Self-care for your mental health often provokes thoughts of pampering yourself. While those activities are beneficial to your mental health, it’s actually considered physical self-care. Mental self-care includes doing things that will stimulate your mind. Examples of this include:
- Reading a book
- Watching informative television programs
- Puzzles (including crossword puzzles, math puzzles, trivia questions, and riddles).
Mental self-care includes anything that keeps your mind thinking and learning, especially if you’re not in school or you feel like your job isn’t challenging you as it should. Mental self-care also includes keeping a positive inner dialogue.
Physical self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself and indulging in your favorite foods/sweets from time to time. While that is good to do occasionally, physical self-care is more about keeping your body healthy so it can function properly. First of all, you need to fuel your body with the proper nutrients and adequate amount of calories for it to have the energy you need for each day. Next, you should make sure that you’re engaging in physical activity— which can be something as simple as taking short walks, stretching every morning, or even something fun like yoga. Finally, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep each night in order to allow your body to rest and recharge for the next day.
Emotional self-care is similar to mental self-care, as emotional health is a part of mental health. Everyone experiences the uncomfortable emotions of sadness, anger, and anxiety, but not everyone expresses them and processes them in a healthy way. A good way to process these feelings is by engaging in creative or leisure activities, exercise, or just simply by talking to someone— which is also tied to social self-care.
Humans are naturally social beings (to varying degrees), so it’s important to make time for those you care about. Communication helps to maintain healthy relationships, and healthy relationships are vital to social (and emotional) health. Make sure that your social needs are being met, and try not to fall into isolation. Self-isolation can also contribute to mental health issues.
Spiritual self-care doesn’t mean that you have to follow a specific religion, although it can. The main purpose of spiritual self-care is to establish a deeper sense of understanding and meaning of life. Praying and meditation are both considered acts of spiritual self-care.
Why is self-care important?
When it comes to major life stressors, such as a divorce, death, or even abuse, self-care can be used as a supplementary practice as a part of healing from a traumatic life event. Counseling may be required for those who have divorced, suffered a loss, or are victims of abuse (abuse survivors should seek justice too) in order to be able to cope and move on with life in the healthiest way possible. Engaging in self-care is a way to remind one that they are important and their presence matters.
Self-care is a great way to deal with the minor stressors of everyday life. Minor stressors include stress on the job, temporary disagreements with those close to you, traffic jams, and any general anxiety related to a short-term problem with an achievable solution.