Many of us have heard the term self-care. In today's world this term is applied to any and everything people do to treat themselves nicely. Whether that be a shopping spree or a really yummy meal. And for some people getting a nice cozy sweater or eating a nice meal with friends is absolutely a form of self-care, but there are different types of self-care. These different types can also help us with different aspects of caring for our well-being.
This article seeks to explain the different types of self-care, give practical ways to implement these methods and give you some ideas on how to improve the effectiveness of the way you practice self-care.
First let’s define what self-care is. In its simplest form self-care is defined in psychology as the practice of taking action to maintain or improve your own health. Normally the concept of health is split into 4 categories. They are emotional health, physical health, psychological health, and spiritual health. Self-care is any action you take to improve your emotional, physical, psychological or spiritual health. That means that practicing self-care can look very different from person to person depending on what aspect of health they are caring for.
You might be wondering who needs to practice self-care. And the answer is everyone will need to practice self-care at different times in their lives. And everyone can benefit from practicing regular self-care to maintain a healthy life, and we all go through stressful periods in our lives where we need to focus a bit of extra attention on different aspects of our health. It is especially important to practice self-care if you are going through a stressful period in your life. This could be coping with an illness, a new career, marriage, financial stress, or a new baby. Sometimes even happy events and time periods in our lives have added stresses and we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves when we start to struggle, or better yet, before we are struggling.
Emotional health is everything to do with how we are thinking, how we are feeling, and how we cope with our emotions and life events. If you want to work on your emotional health, there are some self-care things you can do that may help. Usually, the first step in working on your emotional well-being is to identify how you’re feeling and what your emotions are. Often, we know we aren’t feeling good, or we are stressed but we haven’t had much time to tune into those emotions and identify them. Once you know how you’re feeling you can decide what you need. You can practice communicating your emotions and needs with your family and friends so they can be extra supportive, and you can connect with others. Maybe you’ve started noticing more anxiety than normal? This might be a sign you need to spend time practicing mindfulness. To practice mindfulness, spend time focusing on your breathing and feeling how you feel in the moment. It is important to remember that emotions are not good or bad, they are simply there and are a part of the human experience. Another way to practice emotional self-care is to practice daily gratitude. This might look like writing down 3 positive things in your life every morning. Practicing gratitude as part of your daily life has been shown to improve both mood and decrease stress levels.
Physical health is a little easier to define. Physical health is everything to do with your physical body. If you have a medical condition, making sure you’re taking your medication properly and following your doctor’s instructions are part of self-care. Other ways to practice self-care is eating meals that make you feel your best, making sure you’re getting adequate nutrients, taking vitamins, regularly engaging in forms of exercise that make you feel good, walking, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, getting enough sunshine, and practicing good hygiene.
Psychological health is very similar to emotional health, but it includes a few more aspects besides regulating your emotions and moods. Psychological health also includes rational thinking, good decision-making, behavioural skills, social skills, managing relationships and the ability to manage difficult situations. Because psychological health covers so many parts of our lives there are a lot of ways to practice psychological self-care. Some of these include practicing positive self-talk, journaling, learning to acknowledge what is and isn’t in your control, pursuing hobbies and interests, working with a psychotherapist or another mental health professionals, practicing self-compassion, developing new skills, self-reflection, and expressing gratitude regularly.
Spiritual health is a side of self-care that is often neglected and can look very different to people depending on their culture, beliefs, religion, and customs. Not all the ways of practicing spiritual self-care will suit every person but may work for others with different spiritual beliefs. The important thing is to find the type of spiritual self-care that works for you and your beliefs. The important thing is, whatever your beliefs, to connect with others and find a sense of community. This may be a group of friends to share ideas with. Other ways to practice spiritual self-care are to volunteer, practice yoga, meditating or spending time in nature.
It is important to care for your whole self and there are many things you can do on your own that can greatly improve your quality of life. However, if you begin feeling that you need more assistance and guidance, it is important to reach out and seek professional help.Author: Kellen Olivia Kiisler
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