Self-care is essential for overall well-being and maintaining a healthy, balanced life. Caring for oneself can look different from person to person, but at the end of the day, honoring and respecting the relationship with ourselves over time can help us become the best version of who we are. Our spiritual, emotional, and physical selves need love and attention, so here are a few ways to practice self-care.
Physical Health and Self-Care
Prioritizing your physical health and engaging in activities like walking, yoga, dancing, or jogging helps activate the “feel good” chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Through exercise, these activated chemicals will enhance your energy levels, help regulate your mood, and help you feel more focused, happier, and calmer. Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins is another form of self-care and can help nourish your physical body. Aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night will help you feel more rejuvenated mentally and physically.
Mindfulness and Mental Self-Care
In nourishing and caring for our minds, it’s been researched that practicing mindfulness or meditation could substantially increase distress tolerance for those with mental health conditions. The definition of mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Set aside time each day to focus on your breath, observe your thoughts, and cultivate a sense of calm. This could occur within 5 minutes before signing into work, walking around the neighborhood, or shutting your eyes for the night. Practicing meditation and mindfulness can activate the benefits of self-care, well-being, and stress reduction. Also, one study stated that the frequency of visits to nature-rich spaces has a significant positive association with mindfulness. So, absorb the benefits of nature and experience mindfulness at the same time!
Engaging Your Mind
In the light of caring for our minds, taking up and engaging in a hobby such as reading, painting, playing an instrument, or any other creative pursuit can help challenge and stimulate our minds. Learning something new creates mental stimulation and enhances our ability to be creative.
Emotional Well-being and Self-Care
Expressing our emotions is a healthy way to cultivate emotional well-being and self-care. Find healthy ways to express and process your emotions. This can be done through journaling, talking to a trusted friend, or seeking therapy. If you are interested in processing your emotions with a therapist, our trusted counselors are trained to hold space and ask questions to help you understand your feelings better. Don’t hesitate to contact us; we would love to help you. Another way to foster emotional well-being is to set boundaries with others. Learn to say no when necessary and establish boundaries that protect your mental and emotional well-being. This may be difficult to practice at first, especially if you have people-pleasing tendencies. However, setting boundaries with others is a practice – it takes repetitive attempts before it becomes a natural habit.
The Role of Self-Compassion
Lastly, when practicing self-compassion, be kind to yourself; treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and self-compassion, and acknowledge that nobody is perfect. Think about how you treat your closest friends and treat yourself similarly. Try to avoid self-criticism by reframing negative self-talk into positive self-talk and affirmations. Focus on your strengths and achievements to cultivate self-care.
Blum, H., Rutt, C., Nash, C. R., Joyce, V., & Buonopane, R. (2021). Mindfulness Meditation and Anxiety in Adolescents on an Inpatient Psychiatric Unit. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 27(2), 65–83. https://doi.org/10.1080/08854726.2019.1603918
Trammel, R. C., Park, G., & Karlsson, I. (2021). Religiously oriented mindfulness for social workers: effects on mindfulness, heart rate variability, and personal burnout. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 40(1), 19–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/15426432.2020.1818358
Johnson, T. J. (Thomas J.), Sheets, V., & Kristeller, J. L. (2008). Empirical Identification of Dimensions of Religiousness and Spirituality. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 11(8), 745–767. https://doi.org/10.1080/13674670701561209