Updated: Aug 10
Self-care. It's a phrase we often hear, but many fail to realize how important it is to maintain a happy, healthy life. Setting aside time daily to refocus, decompress, and unwind has long-term psychological and physical benefits, but knowing how to put self-care into action isn't always easy. If you want to learn more about what self-care means, the benefits it provides, and how to implement it into your daily routine, this article will give you in-depth answers so you can begin enjoying everything self-care has to offer.
What Is Self-Care
When people hear self-care, they often confuse it with selfishness or self-indulgence, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. According to the World Health Organization or WHO, self-care is "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." In other words, self-care is simply taking care of your mind and body, so you can stay healthy, give your all at work, and be there for your friends and family. It recharges your batteries so you can accomplish your daily goals without becoming overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed.
The topic of self-care has grown exponentially over the past few years as doctors and psychologists conduct studies seeking to find answers to combat the rise in depression rates among both men and women. As Kelsey Patel, the author of Burning Bright: Rituals, Reiki, and Self-Care to Heal Burnout, Anxiety, and Stress, states, "People are feeling lonelier and less able to unwind and slow down, which makes them feel more anxious and overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks."
Self-care can come in many different forms, including nutrition, hygiene, relaxation techniques like hobbies, and seeking medical help when necessary. By focusing on areas where you care for your physical and mental health, you're partaking in self-care.
The Types Of Self-Care
Although almost anything can be self-care, professionals generally accept three main categories: spiritual, physical, and emotional.
Spiritual self-care addresses your spiritual health and can include meditation, religious services, journaling, praying, surrounding yourself with nature, and daily acts of kindness towards others.
Physical self-care involves caring for your body and includes exercising, getting adequate sleep, and eating healthily.
Emotional self-care targets your mind and includes positive self-talk, de-stressing activities, relaxation, and setting boundaries.
When practicing self-care activities, there are transient and ongoing activities. Examples of transient self-care would be taking a bubble bath or going out to eat with a friend. While these activities have many benefits, they aren't ongoing actions.
Ongoing self-care is practiced daily and has a permanent effect on the mind or body. For example, Psychiatry Research published a study showing mindfulness exercises directly influence the gray matter in the brain, improving memory, emotional regulation, perspective thinking, and self-referential processes. It's clear to see that self-care in practice has the potential to benefit every area of your life!
The Benefits Of Self-Care
It's no secret that releasing stress and feeling healthier can improve every aspect of your life, allowing you to achieve your goals. Self-care has many benefits that help your mind and body function to their full potential, so you can live the life you want and become the person you've always dreamed of being.
As you invest time in yourself, you'll begin seeing your inherent value, which will change your internal monologue. Positive self-talk increases self-esteem, making you feel happier and healthier.
When you learn how to balance your needs with those of others, you'll have more energy to put into your friends and family. You will no longer feel burned out helping others but energetic and eager to build stronger bonds and invest in the ones you love.
A Healthier Body
By making mindful choices, you can ensure your body functions properly and feels incredible. Healthy eating, exercise, and time spent on enjoyable hobbies all contribute to improving your physical health.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it doesn't have to be all-consuming. By incorporating self-care into your daily routine, you can reduce stress which helps you avoid feeling burned out, assists in creating a healthy work-life balance, and aids in mental health.
Stress is a major contributing factor to sickness, wearing your body down and making it unable to fight viruses and bacteria. By using self-care to remove stress, you can increase the effectiveness of your immune system, helping you stay healthy and avoid illness.
Implementing Self-Care Into Your Daily Life
Now that you know what self-care is and all the benefits it provides, it's time to discuss how to implement it into your daily life. One of the best things about self-care is that it doesn't have to be anything big; even small activities can make a huge difference. Try to spend five or ten minutes every day focusing on yourself and taking time to breathe and release the stress of the day. If you have time for more, that's wonderful, but sticking to a daily self-care routine will pay large dividends down the road.
Creating A Sacred Space
The environment around you has a significant effect on how you feel; if you're surrounded by chaos, you'll feel chaotic, while peaceful surroundings promote a serene mind. Creating a sacred space where you can go to sit quietly and recenter is an excellent way to introduce self-care into your daily routine. It can be anything a closet, a small spot in your yard, or a designated room in your home, as long as it's quiet and allows you to decompress. Try playing some soothing music, lighting a candle or incense, or decorating to make your space cozy. The more comfortable you feel the more effective your time spent in your sacred space will be.
Spending Time In Nature
Nature is one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself and decompress from the stress of everyday life. It helps ground you, reminding you that you are built for more than just going to work, cleaning the house, and the tedious chores we face every day. Nature preserves are an excellent place to visit where you can look for wildlife and breathe in the fresh air. Try sitting alone listening to the birds sing and the wind rustle through the leaves. Breathe deeply and slowly, closing your eyes and staying in the moment, allowing the world to fade and your soul to reignite.
Cook A Healthy Meal
Cooking is an excellent form of self-care since it helps relax the mind and body. It provides the opportunity to make nutritious and delicious food that gives you the fuel necessary to feel your best. Take your time, enjoying each step and savoring the intense aromas. Remember, bright colors stimulate the digestive process, so be sure to include plenty of fresh vegetables in your meal. Some of the best include peppers, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Take A Bath
Although a little cliche, baths are an excellent form of self-care, providing many emotional and physical benefits. The warm water simulates the womb, giving you a feeling of well-being and protection. It also helps soothe sore muscles, remove built-up tensions, and clear the mind, leaving you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Go For A Walk, Run, or Bike Ride
Physical activity prompts the brain to release serotonin, which is commonly referred to as the "happy hormone." The more serotonin you have, the better you feel, which is why you'll hear runners refer to a phenomenon known as a "runner's high." You don't have to join the next 5k to start reaping the benefits of physical activity; just go for a walk or bike instead. Not only will you help your body stay fit, but you'll get plenty of Vitamin D from the sun, which promotes cellular regeneration. That's right, the simple act of walking can make you look and feel incredible; talk about self-care for the win!
Yes, you read that right; staying hydrated is a form of self-care and one that is severely underused by many. Dehydration has many unexpected effects on your body, from making you crave sweets and processed foods to feeling sluggish and tired. Our bodies are comprised of about 60% water, so when we don't replenish what's lost, they can't function properly. Drinking around eight cups of water every day can help your digestive system work correctly, aid in nutrient absorption, help normalize your blood pressure, and cushion your joints.
Self-care is essential for helping you stay physically and mentally healthy, recharging your batteries so you can be there for your friends and family. Taking a few minutes every day to focus on yourself can help you release stress and feel your best. Don't underestimate the power self-care has to transform your life, one activity at a time.
Tonya L Hand
Surging Vibrations Lifestyle LLC
Licensed Clinical Therapist and
Self-Care Life Coach