Self care is something we should all be incorporating into our daily lives. However many of us are so caught up in our busy lives that caring for ourselves is usually last on the list of things to do!
For many people the thought of taking time out to focus on ourselves is seen as being selfish. This however couldn’t be further from the truth! If fact, self care gives you the resources to be more compassionate to others!
Below I have put together a breakdown of what self care is and the benefits of practicing self care on a regular basis. I have also broken down the 8 different types of self care and how we can incorporate these activities into our everyday lives.
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What is self care?
According to the World health organisation self care is defined as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”.
However self care can be seen in a more broad aspect focusing more on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This can be broken down in to 8 types of self care that together can help us relieve stress and keep the mind and body healthy. Thereby helping to reduce physical and mental health conditions as well as reduce or relieve symptoms in those already suffering such conditions.
The benefits of self care:
All of us suffer from stress or anxiety at some point in our life. if fact most of us are dealing with stress on a regular basis! This can come from multiple avenues such as work pressures, strained relationships or financial hardship. Without taking time out stress levels can build up and have detrimental effects on our health.
Incorporating self care activities into our daily lives helps us to reduce stress, become more resilient and feel happier about ourselves. In fact research shows there are 6 main benefits of practicing self care on a regular basic such as:
Better productivity – Once you have made self care a priority, you will focus more on what is important to you. This means that you are more likely to say NO to commitments that don’t serve you and say Yes to those that do. A clearer mind will also help you focus on the tasks to hand, completing them faster.
Improved resistance to disease – By partaking in stress relieving activities such as exercise or pampering treatments activates your parasympathetic nervous system. This system basically puts you body in REST and RESTORE mode helping you decompress. Thus reducing your risk to stress related conditions.
Better physical health – Maintaining a healthy lifestyle incorporating healthy eating habits and regular exercise is well known to increase physical health. However regular relaxation techniques can also reduce stress levels in turn increasing mood, energy levels and boost the immune system.
Enhanced self esteem – Just as exercise and good nutrition can have a positive impact on self esteem so can regular self care. Taking time out for yourself on a regular basis sends a positive message to your subconscious. You will start to focus more on your abilities and have a more positive mindset. This will help those who suffer with negative self talk and your critical inner voice.
Increased self knowledge – By practicing self care you begin to really get to know yourself and understand what you really love to do. Sometimes this can spark a change in you that has been long needed such as in your career or lifestyle.
More to give – Its hard to be compassionate to others if you are feeling stressed yourself. Eventually you will run out of juice and be swallowed up by all the negative thoughts running through your mind. By looking after yourself first and by maintaining your own mental wellbeing you will become more resilient, ensuring you are better equipped to help others.
Types of self care – Physical
Physical self care is the process of incorporating activities into your life that promote physical health. Examples include:
Getting enough sleep – It’s reccommended that we all should have around 8 hours of sleep each night. Getting a good nights sleep enables our bodies to repair and be fully rested for the day ahead. Getting enough sleep also reduces the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and increased illness duration.
Regular physical exercise – Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce weight and lower the risk of developing certain diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise also releases those feel good endorphins that improve mood and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. Regular exercise can also contribute to better skin and boost self esteem.
Eating a nutritious diet – Combined with a physical activity, a nutritious diet can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of chronic conditions. However you don’t have to completely distain from foods that you love. The trick is to have a balanced diet incorporating all the nutritious food your body needs as well as a treat every now and then.
If you are a lover of fast food, why not try and make your own healthier versions at home. Also, be sure to drink at least 1-2 litres of water a day. Water is an important nutrient that helps us stay hydrated as well as many other health benefits.
Getting rest when needed – Rest isn’t about being lazy or avoiding work. It’s necessary for our health and for being at our best when we are working. Taking a break when needed has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure. Taking regular breaks can actually make us enjoy our work more and become more productive.
Types of self care – Personal
Personal self care is an activity that helps take care of our own physical and mental wellbeing. Examples include:
Getting to know yourself – Finding and knowing your true self helps to motivate you to resist bad habits and develop good ones. However it’s not always a simple process, hence many people tend to avoid it. Why not start a journal? Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you reflect on difficult situations. The process can also help you find your inner voice and learn coping strategies for the future.
Doing activities that you enjoy – Enjoying a hobby can have a great impact on reducing stress and anxiety. However a creative hobby is even more healthy for the brain. Getting those creative juices flowing will not only reduce stress but will also promote critical thinking and problem solving, leaving you feeling accomplished.
Setting goals – Having realistic goals is so important. Brake down those big goals into bite size chunks that can easily be achieved. This will not only give you feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction but will also make it more likely that you will achieve the bigger goal quicker!
Types of self care – Professional
Professional self care is related to your work environment. Examples include:
Time management – Good time management allows you to accomplish more in a shorter time frame. This in turn reduces stress, leads to better focus and more career success. Planning plays an important role in time management.
Firstly you need to prioritise your workload and stop multi-tasking, complete each task completely before starting a new one. Secondly, cut off any distractions, put away that mobile phone! Thirdly, accept your limitations, delegate smaller tasks to other colleagues if possible.
Boundaries and breaks – There are 3 types of boundaries we need in our life, they are physical, emotional and mental. If we don’t set boundaries at work we are in danger of overworking, feeling venerable and not having a good work life balance.
Emotional boundaries relate to our personal space, do we allow others to hug us or is a hand shake more acceptable to us?
Emotional boundaries relate to your emotions. Do you allow other peoples emotions or beliefs to interfere with your own attitudes or behaviour.
Mental boundaries refer to your thoughts, values and opinions. Are your opinions and thoughts valued in the workplace? Feeling valued in the workplace is essential for job satisfaction.
Learning new skills – Learning new skills are essential for helping you reach your career goals. A new skill can help reduce boredom, make you more adaptable and can keep your career options open. Learning also helps keep the mind healthy, its brain training!
Types of self care – Financial
Financial self care relates to how we manage out finances. Ensuring we aren’t spending more than what we earn is essential in maintaining our overall wellbeing. After all financial problems are one of the main causes of stress and anxiety. Ways we can financial self care include:
Maintaining a budget – In todays society people are increasingly spending more on credit cards and living above their means. This however is a disaster waiting to happen. Get control of your finances and set up a budget that you can stick to. If you have never set up a budget check out my step by step guide here.
Saving money – Saving more for the future can help us become financially secure. How many of us can predict the future? Having a little nest egg can give us an emergency cushion for those unexpected bills or situations. If you want to save for a special purchase or to just have an emergency fund, then check out 22 things to quit buying to save money.
Paying bills on time – Make a list of all your bills and when they need to be paid. If possible try and move all the payment dates to a day or two after pay day, that way you know how much money you are left to play with for the rest of the month.
Types of self care – Spiritual
Spiritual self care is any practice that brings us closer to ourselves, to who we truly are. Examples include:
Spending time alone – Being by yourself is one of the best self care practices. It forces you to face yourself, to be present in the moment and be mindful of your suroundings.
Meditation – Meditation is a great way to sooth the mind and disconnect those negative thoughts. If you are new to medication try listening to some calming music, natural sounds or some words of affiramtion.
Journalling – Journalling is basically writing down all your feelings, thoughts and experiences. This helps us to understand how we feel about a particular situation, a way of reflecting and learning coping strategies for the future. If you want to learn more about journalling check out my 90 inspirational journal prompts here.
Spending time in nature – One of the best ways of reducing stress is to get out and about in nature. For me I always find taking a walk or a hike outside really helps me disconnect from the day and refocus the mind. Spending time in nature is also known to improve short term memory, improve sleep and inspire creativity.
Types of self care – Social
Social self care relates to maintaining healthy relationships. Examples include:
Having a support system – Having friends or family to rely on in times of need is important. However it’s important that you don’t rely on these people to make decisions for you. Instead go to them for advice and comfort when needing to vent but ensure all decisions are made by you only.
Healthy use of social media – When was the last time you had a social media purge. Adjusting your follow list on Social Media platforms will make a bigger change than you might think. Take a look at some of your social networks and give a little thought to who you want to be connected to. Do these accounts bring you joy or do they bring out negative feelings? Try and find healthy sources that don’t trigger you or impact you negatively.
Friends – Spending time with friends and family is one of the best ways of reducing stress, giving us a purpose and promoting self worth.
Types of self care – Environmental
Environment self care involves having an organised, clean and safe living space. Examples include:
Safety – Feeling safe and secure in our own home is essential, it is the place where we wind down, heal and rebuild. Make your home and surrounding a place of calm, a sanctuary where we can let go fully and embrace our true selves.
Healthy environment – Living in an uninspiring space can negatively impact most of our living habits. It can leave us feeling demotivated and stressed leading to bad eating and lifestyle habits affecting our mood and behaviour. A lot of us can’t change where we live but we can change how we live. Try making positive changes to make your living area more inspiring, even if that is just adding some motivational quotes or some potted plants.
Organisation – Organising your home and living space can be just as important as doing self care activities as a way of looking after your mental health. Imagine coming home from work after a stressful day and opening the door to a cluttered messy space, its not gonna help you unwind and relax is it! Clutter can also offer distractions, without realising, it can make us become less productive.
Types of self care – Emotional
Emotional self care involves caring for your emotional needs by identifying how they are feeling and how to move forward. Examples include:
Stress management – Recognising when you are stressed is one of the first steps in stress management. The second is recognising what do do to relieve that stress! Are you someone who picks up that chocolate bar or glass of wine or would you use up that negative energy on a run. The way we deal with stress long term will ultimately affect our health in the future. Taking a step back and understanding our actions when we are stressed will help us make more rational decisions that aren’t harmful. For ways to reduce stress and anxiety check out my guide here.
Compassion – Many of us will give out a lot of ourselves to others who are struggling, however this can quickly leave us feeling drained. We should all make sure we give ourselves compassion first, and practicing self care is one of the best ways to do it. By doing this we become more resilient, giving us to help others as and when needed without draining ourselves in the process.
Therapy – If things are really getting on top of you or are dealing with traumatised experiences then speaking to a professional can help you make sense of your thoughts. Just like writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can help, speaking out loud can also help release these negative feeling rather than bottling them up inside.
Self care is extremely important for maintaining a healthy mind body and soul. When we value and look after ourselves we are more likely to make healthier choices, in turn, improving our health and maintaining a sense of wellbeing. Not all types of self care will resonate with everyone but I hope some of these examples will help improve your health and wellbeing and encourage you to make yourself your number one priority!
If you are looking for ways to introduce some self care into your normal routine, why not check out my 30 day self care challenge or my Self care Sunday post. A sure fire way to get you feeling refreshed and back in control.
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Thanks for reading,