What if I told you self care was more than a bath bomb and some essential oils?
Often conversations around self-care come after we have told someone we are stressed out. We hear classic lines that go something like 'make sure you take time to take care of yourself'. I remember talking to a friend about the struggles of balancing school, work and life. She told me “You need to take some time to yourself. Have you heard about bath bombs? They are so amazing!” Now my friend meant well. But let’s be real, a bath bomb is not a ‘cure-all’ for stress. And contrary to popular opinion, self-care is more than taking a bath, going to the salon, or pampering yourself when you are upset or feeling down. (Although all of those things can be used as forms of personal self-care. Don't get me wrong, I love a good pampering session to unwind and relax).
Self-care involves recurrent wellness and mindfulness practices. It is about taking care of yourself physically, mentally,socially and emotionally. Did you know there are different forms of self-care that we could practice each day? The picture that's in this blog does a great job depicting some of these self-care methods but I'll provide some examples:
1. Physical self-care is about how we take care of our bodies. This could include exercising, getting enough sleep, sexual health. etc.
2. Emotional self-care involves how we regulate and deal with our thoughts and feelings. This could include working on practicing empathy, developing coping mechanisms for stress. etc. Practicing daily affirmations and self-compassion are great ways to use emotional self-care.
3. Social self-care can take on many different forms. An example I once got from a friend was taking time away from social media. For her, it was important to establish boundaries and not spend too much time getting caught up in what was going on with others.
4. Spiritual self-care is about how we engage and nurture meaning into our lives. For you, this might be connected to religion but it does not have to be. This could be done by spending more time with nature, practicing meditation and other activities that bring you deeper forms of awareness.
5. Personal self-care is the most popular form of self-care. This is the form of self-care people often talk about when they tell you to 'take some time to yourself'. This could be as simple doing hobbies or activities that you enjoy (like that luxurious bubble bath we talked about earlier). However, personal self-care can extend past hobbies and activities. Like taking time to reflect and know yourself at a deeper level. Journaling is one of the best ways you can impactfully use self-reflection. You just have to find the right things that work for you.
6. Work self-care is often overlooked but VERY important to talk about. Most of us work quite often. Some of us never thought about practicing self-care while working. However, when we do not practice work self-care, we are more likely to experience burnout, compassion fatigue, and competency issues. Negative work performance can also impact our health and personal lives. One thing I encourage people to do is to take time off when you can. Use your vacation days, sick days, 'mental health' days. They are there for a reason, do not feel guilty because you need some time off. Also, take a break! We have the same 24 hours each day. If we spend the majority of that time working without a 'breather', it is simply draining. We are not robots, we are human. And even robots need moments to recharge. If you need five minutes to recharge at work, take them. You will be happy you did and your work performance just might improve because of it.
Now that we all have a deeper understanding of self-care, I hope that you can find the time to start implementing some of these practices into your own life. I recommend taking some time to reflect on yourself and the self-care methods you currently use. Then adding some goals in each category that you want to improve and practice more often. You will honestly be amazed at how much better you feel once self-care becomes a regular part of your lifestyle!