Self-Care is a big buzz word these days. But let’s be honest—most people don’t know the first thing about actually caring for themselves. There are many different types of self-care practices and all of them are equally important. Self-Care isn’t just a phrase, it’s a habit, a routine that takes time to develop and fine tune so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by everyday stressors. Keep reading to learn the basics of self-care, why EVERYONE should have a self-care plan and one habit you can start after you’re done reading this article.
The Basics Of Self-Care
The first thing to understand when talking about self-care is that it is not about ignoring important responsibilities or being overly self-indulgent. It is a set of habits and activities that help you balance all the different facets of being an adult in a world that values you based on how you can give to others. It’s no wonder then, that more often than not, we don’t realize that we need to care for ourselves until we reach rock-bottom.
At one point I was working a job, an internship, juggling school and a side-hustle and trying to make time for myself. It was impossible. The week before I decided to quit (a year after I had to buy a new car, of course), I remember getting off at the exit and bursting into tears the closer I got to the staff parking lot. Even though I KNEW that I needed to slow down, and I WANTED to, I felt like I had to find some way to push through it all. No one should have to come to that. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to make some tough choices. I wanted to do all of these things, but I had no real plan. I had a seminar about self-care in my internship class and I found myself revisiting the plan I tossed together at the last minute. I had to sit with those questions, for real this time, and I came to understand that self-care is self-preservation.
Why is Self-Care Important?
The good thing about self-preservation is that we will eventually reach a point where we have no choice but to slow down—nature works for us like that. But why does it have to come to that? Why is it that we only think about ourselves last and often too late?
In an article by Planned Parenthood, they outline seven different ways you can practice self-care. Seven different facets can be a lot to keep up with, so I narrowed it down to four: Spiritual, Physical, Social, Emotional. These aren’t the only ways you can care for yourself, I’m sure there are a million different types of things you can do on a daily basis, but I invite you to explore ways you can incorporate these four categories into your daily practices.
I like to start off by talking about spiritual self-care because it sets the tone for how we relate to the other three groups. Spiritual self-care is defined by our ability to connect to the essence of existing in a body, on a mass, flying through space. Some people connect to this essence through yogic technologies, some people have religious beliefs, others meditate. However you connect to this is personal and unique to your experience. Feeling like you have a purpose and deciding who you want to be in this lifetime are all part of practicing spiritual self-care.
Part of my spiritual self-care practice is meditating. I like to practice non-thought meditation by sitting in a dark or dimly lit room and focusing on my breath. It’s like a sensory deprivation experience that makes me hyper aware of even the smallest thoughts that come into my mind and I can spend hours just thinking about what they mean in the grand scheme of things. If there is anything my spiritual self-care practice has taught me it’s that we can only do our best with the tools we have at our disposal.
I lumped emotional and mental self-care into the same category because they influence each other so strongly. If we do not have healthy ways to process strong emotions, our mental health suffers. It’s a snowball effect and the more we feel overwhelmed, the harder it is to get daily tasks completed. Emotional self-care might look like talking with a coach, therapist or trusted friend about where you’re at in life and processing those reflections in a healthy way so that you can move on to other things. Sometimes it looks like journaling regularly. Again, there is no explicit rule for practicing this type of self-care because different things work for different people.
This type of self-care is one that gets talked about more than any other kind. This is the spa days and the bath bomb collection, the eating healthy and getting enough exercise type of self-care. It’s also the paying your bills on time, folding and putting the laundry away type of self-care. Physical self-care is easy for a lot of people because we live in a world that places a lot of emphasis on the physical. There are books you can read about all the ways you can care for your body and businesses you can support like (Haus of Serpent Fire, sorry not sorry for the shameless plug) that specialize in physical self-care products.
My favorite physical self-care activity right now is waking up early to go outside and enjoy the early-morning sunshine. I get to spend time in the world when it feels very new and fresh before I have to attend to any of the other things on my list of to-dos.
Social self-care starts to enter the realms of inter-personal practices whereas the other three focus on things you do for yourself exclusively. Social self-care is the one category that I find myself struggling with, but my emotional self-care practice supports it. I need a lot of time to myself, alone in silence and while I love my people, my social battery can be quite low at times. This means my social self-care is a quality over quantity type of practice. I love talking on the phone and sending voice messages or having intimate interactions with a few people at a time. A few weeks ago, I met a friend at her house and she made us coffee, I brought cookies and we hung out on her porch and just talked about anything and everything. I didn’t want to leave, but it was so refreshing and I felt empowered to finish my tasks for the day.
How Can You Start Practicing Self-Care?
Your self-care habits can dictate how you handle moments of stress and discomfort. An easy way to incorporate ease into your life and find moments of rest between tasks is simply putting your phone down for a few minutes. We have social platforms that constantly feed us information, and everything is essentially digital now, but even if it’s for three minutes, you can seriously reduce your stress levels by looking away from the screen. After you share this article and comment on it, I invite you to try it out! Let me know what your go-to self-care practices look like right now. I’m always interested in learning about the ways in which other people create a life worth living.