When most people think of self care, they picture taking a bath or lighting a candle. Self care goes way beyond that. We all deserve to take care of each major aspect of our identity in order to fully benefit from self care. As an online anxiety therapy in Virginia and North Carolina, I have worked with clients on redefining what self care means for them.
Here are a few categories of self care to consider:
Physical self care is really at the foundation of all self care. The more sensory activities you can engage in and do, the quicker you can improve your mood. Physical and mental health are linked. If you’re having difficulty managing some of your thoughts or feelings, then you can regulate your mood by doing some of the physical tasks below. For example, in Virginia, you can hike in Shenandoah National Park to get some fresh air and exercise.
Examples of physical self care: getting a good amount of sleep, eating healthier, drinking water, stretching, exercise, surrounding yourself with good scents, taking a long shower or bath to relax
Mental self care involves doing things that will help your mood. Usually when people feel sad, for example, they listen to sad music or watch a sad movie. All that does is feed that mood! In order to decrease those tough feelings, you have to do the opposite action. Fill your mind with positive things to help your mind channel more positive things. Look at the list of upcoming concerts in your city (here in Charlotte, see who is playing at the Fillmore for example) and go to a show.
Examples of mental self care: reading fun books/graphic novels, listening to positive affirmations, rewatching favorite shows, listening to happy music, watching YouTube videos of positive or funny things
Social self care is often misunderstood. People think that you should surround yourself with people when feeling down or anxious. Although being around people can be healthy, you have to be careful with the types of people you spend your time with. We’ve all known people who are energy suckers. They use you as their therapist, or they complain often, or they do unhealthy or unsafe things frequently. Definitely be careful about how much time you spend with those people.
If you’re going through a rough time, you want to be with healthy, positive friends who make you feel like the best version of yourself. If you really feel you need alone time to recharge, that is fine too! Just make sure you’re not isolating for too long.
Examples of social self care: Spend time with healthy friends, take space from others when you want it/need it, have healthy boundaries, be mindful about who you give energy to and surround yourself with
Spiritual practices aren’t necessarily religious ones. If you believe in a specific religion, then engage in whatever practices you feel connected to that help your mood. Maybe you feel that being in nature is more spiritual for you. Take a walk, spend time in the backyard breathing fresh air, or meditate. Think outside of the box!
Examples of spiritual self care: journaling, walks in nature, prayer, meditation
This one can be really hard for people. It feels like everyone values the “hustle culture” vibe. Your value comes from how hard you work and how much time you spend on it. But that isn’t always healthy. For some people, work is actually their biggest stressors and creates the most mental health issues. In order to look like a better employee, some people focus way too much on work and don’t take advantage of the positive aspects of their job that they earned. Take that vacation time! Use your weekends and/or vacations to disconnect from work calls and emails.
Examples of professional self care: taking breaks, using vacation time, always take your lunch break, say no when needed
Self care is essential to your mental health. If you can start incorporating some of these aspects into your life, your stress levels will likely decrease. It will be healthy to have some of this techniques and hobbies in your weekly, if not daily, routine to help you balance out the stress of life. You deserve to recharge!