Emotional Self Care – How Caring for Yourself Helps Others

Caring for ourselves emotionally is paramount to our mental health.  The busy lives we lead balancing work and home can take a toll on us after a while-so we must take the time to perform emotional self-care regularly to keep ourselves mentally strong and healthy.

Emotional self-care focuses on nurturing one’s soul and well-being in ways that provides it stability, comfort, calm, balance, and strength. This can be developed through activities that are as unique as the person practicing them. It’s possible for everyone to practice emotional self-care.

Do you ever feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends and are dangerously close to burning out?  Do you know what emotional self-care is and how it would benefit you? Let’s explore more.

What Is Emotional Self-Care?

Emotional self-care are those things that we do to care for our own mental health.  Sometimes these are physical activities while other times it’s quiet and meditative.  It’s about taking a break, whether it’s once a week or once a day, to take the time to care for ourselves.  If there’s something you enjoy doing that brings you joy and peace, it contributes to your emotional health.

Emotional self-care involves actions and strategies that foster emotional balance and overall well-being. These could be in the form of practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries, or through self-expression. Emotional self-care is unique to the individual, so practice different methods to see which ones work best for you.

Child playing in a sprinkler - Emotional Self Care - Gone Minimal
Kid playing in a sprinkler

Benefits of Emotional Self-Care

The number one benefit of emotional self-care is feeling better, calmer, and stronger.  Taking the time to care for yourself can also help us to help others more.  When we are feeling good it allows us to share that good with others, though supporting, listening, and helping. It can also help you continue to enjoy the things in life you enjoy the most rather than losing interest.

Types of Emotional Self-Care

Social Self-Care

This is important in that we as humans have a need for belonging, but solitude is important as well.  Social self-care is unique in that we need to spend time with others and we need to take the time alone to refresh and reset.  Everyone is different in terms of social self-care so it may look different for you than for me.  Going to that birthday party or taking that special someone out to dinner and dancing can benefit you as well as others.

Work Self-Care

Performing actions that preserve or advance your career, build relationships with your coworkers and supervisors, and helps you maintain a healthy work-life balance.  It’s so important to take breaks from work to prevent dissatisfaction, overwhelming stress, and the distraction that keeps us from our families and loved ones.  Utilizing work self-care can not only improve your enjoyment of your job, it can also prevent you from leaving your job.  You earn vacation days for a reason!

Parenting Self-Care

Really challenging for most as children tend to rule our worlds!  Self-care in this category consists of a few things:

  • Stop the comparison to other parents and children!
  • Set and uphold household rules.
  • Take parental breaks.
  • Don’t take everything so seriously!
  • Enjoy the good times.

This one is so important because we’re setting the example for our children.  On the flip side-this continues as we have aging parents.  As our parents get older and more dependent upon us for help and maintaining their independence, it can conflict with our own self-care.  We must learn to set boundaries and ask for help from others to preserve our own mental health while supporting our elderly parents.

Joy - Emotional Self Care - Gone Minimal

Emotional Self-Care Ideas & Activities

There are so many options for emotional self-care there’s just not enough room right here!  The activities you choose are individual to you and should be done regularly because they benefit you.  Use as many as you like-there are no rules except you’ve got to take the time to do at least one regularly.  Some of these require movement and activity while others are a mindset:

  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Gardening
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Disconnect
  • Watching television/movies
  • Practice hobbies
  • Create something new
  • Spend time with animals/pets
  • Spend time in nature

And of course this list is not all-inclusive: this is just to get you started!  What do you enjoy doing most?  What do you think you might enjoy?  What are you already doing?  Make a note of those things and let’s discuss making a plan for emotional self-care.

Emotional Self-Care Plan

We all seem to live busy, hectic lives between work, family, children, and trying to stay physically active like healthcare providers are always encouraging us to do.  For emotional self-care, we must slow down and consider taking time for ourselves. 

If we plan for it, make the time for it, we’re more likely to do it.  What’s your work schedule like?  Many of us don’t work a standard schedule, Monday through Friday 8-5, which can make it even more challenging to take that time.  Here are some ideas on how you can create an emotional self-care plan that works for you:

  • Set aside 5-10 minutes each day to meditate
  • Consider going for a walk instead of watching the news
  • Play with your children or pets instead of that smartphone game
  • Plug your smartphone in another room at bedtime
  • Drink your morning coffee outside
  • Read a book instead of checking email

Create a plan that works for you and your schedule.  It may not be feasible to do all of the above in one day, but try to incorporate at least one per day to start.  You may even find that you’re already doing one or more of these things.  Over time you can increase that to fit your needs.  Some activities you may only be able to do once a week, which will still benefit your mental health-trust me!

Here is an insightful video on emotional self care:

Helpful Emotional Self-Care Insights

What are Some Examples of Emotional Self-Care?

Taking a “time-out” from work, school, or anything that is causing us stress is emotional self-care.  If we know something is wearing us down, stressing us out, we can take the time to distract even if only for a few minutes to help mentally reset.  It doesn’t require going anywhere, or even physically moving, it just requires time. 

Emotional self-care can be a mental action like prayer or meditation, but it can also be a physical action like going for a walk or engaging in a hobby.  If there’s something you enjoy doing, it can probably contribute to your emotional self-care!

How Do You Take Care of Yourself Emotionally?

Know that as humans, we all have our limits.  If we can identify those limits, we can take steps to identify when it’s time to do some emotional self-care.  We can do things including spend time with family and friends and pets to take a break from those stressors and better balance our lives.  That break can even help us analyze what the stressor is and if it’s worth our mental health to continue or if it’s time for a change.

How Do You Get To Know Yourself Better Emotionally?

We are constantly changing, so our interests as well as our emotional responses to life, work, and stress change.  We can get to and continue to know ourselves better emotionally by doing the things we enjoy doing as well as trying new things.  If you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, try it and see how it makes you feel.  If you tried yoga before and didn’t like it, that’s alright.  The world we live in is always changing, as are our emotional responses to those changes.  It’s worth it to try new things and get to know yourself.

Do We Ever Really Know Ourselves?

There are stages in our lives when we don’t really know ourselves.  Our lives change, we change, the world around us changes.  It can be challenging to know ourselves with so much change occurring around us.  As long as we take the time to do things we enjoy as well as perform emotional self-care, we can know ourselves well, even if it’s only for a brief moment in time.

Woman's reflection in the mirror - Emotional Self Care - Gone Minimal
Woman’s reflection in the mirror

Emotional Self Care Activities – From Real People

I polled some of my family and friends, many of whom are healthcare professionals, on what they like to do for emotional self-care.  The answers varied wildly, but there were definitely some common themes.  The most common responses were exercise, reading (including the bible), and sleeping/napping. 

Interesting to note-healthcare professionals are some of the worst when it comes to self-care, even though they are always encouraging others to do it.  One of them even told me they realized they weren’t doing it enough and took my poll as a challenge to get it back into their routine!

Here are their responses:

Emotional Self Care Activity# of Times Listed
Watching movies2
Drinking (alcohol)4
Long bath4
Sleep/bedtime routine5
Foot massage3
Being with animals1
Pampering (hair and nails)1
Target shooting3
Watching tv1
Relaxing outdoors1
Effective communication1
Setting and keeping goals1
Saying no1
Being outside1
Alone time1
Time with family1
Helping others1

Emotional self-care is an absolute necessity in this ever-changing life.  Taking the time to meditate, exercise, and even pamper ourselves is a great way to take the emotional break from stress and work to restore our mental well-being. 

Other Resources:

Whether it’s once a day or once a week, do something for yourself that helps to decrease your stress, settles your mind, and brings you the peace you deserve.  Do it for you, do it for those around you.  Your example can lead the way for others.

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