Self-Care: a popular trend or something to embody? With so many articles and media posts out there on the topic today, it’s easy to glance over the significance of self-care.
Self-care is addressing aspects of your life, such as emotional, physical, and spiritual, and giving them attention to find balance and peace in these areas. Self-care is listening to your body and mind, and honoring those needs.
It can be much more, and much deeper, than a bubble bath with candles – which is amazing, don’t get me wrong. But, deeper in the sense of sustainable self-care practices. How one can embody taking care of themselves so fully that they experience vibrant health – emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is doing activities to improve your health, both mentally and physically, as well as inner work to find deeper healing. It can involve addressing parts of your life that may be neglected and enhancing them to find greater balance. These activities can be big and small, things that bring you pleasure and rest, and things that may be more difficult to address, but result in transformative healing.
Self-care Activities That Can Bring You Comfort and Peace
- Taking a relaxing bath.
- Reading a book.
- Going on a walk.
- Watching birds/nature.
- Taking a nap.
- Being creative (drawing, sewing, dancing, singing).
- Laughing and having a good time with friends.
Self-care Activities That May Be More Challenging
- Exercising regularly.
- Voicing your needs.
- Eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
- Ending/addressing self-destructive habits (smoking, drinking, etc).
- Removing or creating boundaries with unhealthy people in your life.
- Committing to taking time for yourself.
- Going to bed early and waking early.
- Nurturing your spiritual life.
- Becoming aware of your thoughts/thought patterns.
- Reflecting on how your childhood has led you to become who you are today.
Whoa, that may seem like a lot, because it is. The good news is that you don’t have to address each of these things right away. Start with what feels the most important/vital to address. Healing and taking care of yourself is an ever-evolving journey that shouldn’t be rushed or stamped with a time limit. Simply stating and voicing the desire to take care of yourself and better your health is the first step to embodying self-care.
These activities can be big and small, things that bring you pleasure and rest, and things that may be more difficult to address, but result in transformative healing.”
Why Is Self-care Important?
Self-care is important because if we don’t take care of ourselves we’ll never grow, and our lives may be filled with disease and disharmony. Not only may we suffer from physical disease, but also suffer from depression, anxiety, dysfunctional relationships, and more. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it will be much harder to take care of and support others, such as children and partners.
Studies have confirmed that self-care leads to better, lasting health and lower morbidity rates. To learn more, check out this study here from the International Journal of Nursing Studies.
Here’s a helpful video that goes into depth on why self-care is so important, and why we need it more than ever.
It may seem unimportant when one is young and healthy, but years of neglect compound on each other, and create disease in the body and mind. Let’s take a look at each aspect in-depth – emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual – and talk about why each is important for our health.
Emotional Self Care
Experiencing a range of emotions is a healthy part of life. We’re complex creatures capable of experiencing and feeling so many different things at once. Emotions are a natural reaction to what we experience in our environments and they are shaped by our perspectives and memories.
By practicing self-care in our emotional lives, we can learn to process and navigate our emotional states in a grounded and open place. In other words, we don’t let our emotions control our actions. When we do not tend to our emotional selves, it can result in snapping, lashing out, and being unsupportive to others, becoming easily overwhelmed, and making it harder to pursue one’s passions.
Our bodies are amazing and are capable of so many things, including transformative healing. Taking care of and loving our physical bodies is vital to sustainable self-care. That being said, I know loving ones’ body isn’t always the easiest thing and can come with heavy trauma/psychological responses.
Nonetheless, our bodies need our support and attention if we wish to be healthy. If addressing your body comes with strong emotional responses, consider talking with a therapist. Being gentle and patient is key!
In today’s society, our mind tends to run the show. Our racing and spiraling thoughts constantly a-buzz, making one feel perpetually exhausted. That’s why psychological self-care is so important. It teaches one how to slow down the mind, come down into the body, and fully relax.
Self-care for the mind is about listening and honoring our thoughts, but also realizing that we don’t have to believe them or give them power. It is devoting time to fully rest the mind and come down into the present. Without psychological self-care, we can experience burn-out and make decisions that aren’t aligned with our true selves. Neglecting our minds can also result in depression, anxiety, bitterness, hopelessness, and more.
Research shows that how we relate to our circumstances through our beliefs can positively and negatively affect our health. Check out this study published through the National Library of Medicine that shows positive thinking can lead to better self-care.
Our spiritual lives; our beliefs about ourselves and the world are what sustain us. Through the good and bad, we can find a foundation in our beliefs. Nurturing our spiritual lives allows us to connect with something that is greater than ourselves. It is what gives us hope, strengthens our faith, and allows us to follow our true path.
Everyone’s spiritual life is going to look different. The most important thing is finding what you believe in, and sustaining that relationship. Whether that’s a belief in yourself, a belief in a greater entity, or a combination of these.
What are Self-Care Activities?
Self-care activities are anything that you do or participate in with the intention of taking care of/healing yourself. These activities are going to look different for everyone, and the most important thing is discovering what works best for you and your life. We dived into each specific section above – our emotional, physical, and spiritual lives – now let’s take a look at some examples of each.
These are activities you can try to take care of yourself in each of these areas. Keep in mind they are merely suggestions to help you get started, and from there you can pave the way for self-care activities that you most enjoy and benefit from.
Emotional self-care activities:
- Notice where your emotions are in your body and simply allow yourself to *feel* the emotion without accompanying thoughts and beliefs.
- Talk with someone you trust about the emotions you’re experiencing. Talking with a therapist is one of the best ways to learn how to navigate emotions.
- Journal about how you feel + your experience.
- Intentional rest.
- Exercise – physical activity is a great way to expel excess energy.
- Learn breathing exercises.
- Learn when it’s time to calm down before continuing with something. If you’re having a conversation or doing an activity and you start to feel strong negative emotions, take a moment/break to honor your emotions and calm down. You can always return to the activity or conversation at another time.
Physical self-care activities:
- Exercise in a way that feels good to you – dancing, hiking, rock climbing, running.
- Eating healthy/nourishing organic foods.
- Drink lots of water every day!
- Intentional rest.
- Develop a healthy sleep pattern that allows you to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
- Support ailments through gentle and restorative herbal medicine.
- Go on regular walks.
- Learn breathing exercises.
Psychological Self-Care Activities:
- Taking a bath.
- Being present.
- Cleaning/organizing one’s environment.
- Paying attention/reflecting on your thoughts.
- Intentional rest.
- Reading a book.
- Eating healthy, nutritious food.
- Being creative.
- Receiving adequate rest.
Spiritual Self-Care Activities:
- Finding a like-minded spiritual community.
- Reading spiritual books.
- Journeying through guided meditations.
- Connecting to the spirit of nature.
- Connecting to your own inner spirit.
- Going on a retreat.
Self-care for the mind is about listening and honoring our thoughts, but also realizing that we don’t have to believe them or give them power.”
Self-Care Activities at Home
One aspect of self-care is taking care of our environments, especially our homes. Taking care of this space is highly important to taking care of ourselves because it is the space we feel most comfortable and safe in. Plus, there are a number of self-care activities that you can do right in the comfort of your own home. Check them out:
- Cleaning/organizing your space.
- Take a luxurious bath.
- Getting cozy on the couch with a book.
- Spending intentional time with family.
- Try to bake or cook a new recipe.
- Try a new hobby/devote time to a current hobby.
- Garden/create an indoor garden by buying houseplants.
What are Some Self-Care Activity Resources?
If you would like some support on your self-care journey there are a number of resources that are available to you. These include books, worksheets, and online/in-person therapy.
If you’re wanting worksheets that help you identify the cause of your emotions and beliefs, check out these worksheets by Byron Katie.
If you would like to assess where you’re at in self-care, check out this worksheet that helps you know what self-care activities you already do and what areas you may be overlooking. This worksheet is also along those same lines but helps you reflect more on each of those areas through journaling exercises.
“How To Do The Work” by Dr. Nicole LePera helps one find transformative healing. She doesn’t just give you tools and insights, but key points on *how* to do the work.
To learn how to dive deeply into the practice of self-care, check out “The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care” by Anna Borges.
If you’re looking for more of a hands-on guide, the book, “A Year of Self-Care: Daily Practices and Inspiration for Caring for Yourself” by Dr. Zoe Shaw gives you daily journaling exercises and tips to implement self-care into your everyday life.
What are Group Self-Care Activities?
Having friends who are also committed to bettering and taking care of themselves is so important for sustaining self-care. And, the best part is there are self-care activities that you can all enjoy together!
Examples of group self-care activities might include gathering for a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly meet-up where you have intentional discussions. Perhaps you go through a self-help book together or talk about spiritual topics. Maybe it’s a time for each of you to share what’s on your heart and the struggles you may be facing.
Another example would be doing fun physical exercises together. Whether that’s taking a yoga class, going on a hike, rock climbing, or just meeting up at the gym. Exercising can be so much more enjoyable when doing it with people you love.
Self-Care Activities Based on Age
Self-care activities will be different for age groups and seasons in life. For example, a child or teenager’s self-care is going to look different than a parent’s self-care activities. So, let’s dive into the activities that might be best for each group.
Toddlers Self-Care Activities
For toddlers, pay attention to the activities they most enjoy doing, such as drawing, looking at a book, or playing with blocks. Participate in and encourage these activities. If your little one is throwing a tantrum, try redirecting to an activity they enjoy.
Taking toddlers outside to play every day (if the weather permits) is important for toddler self-care!
Children Self-Care Activities
Teaching a child self-care practices is important in teaching them how to manage their emotions, take care of their physical body, and how to voice their needs. Self-care activities for children include letting them explore their creativity, listening to and supporting their needs, and teaching them how to process their emotions. The best way for a child to develop self-care practices is by being an example and taking care of yourself.
Teenagers Self-Care Activities
The teenage years can be exceptionally rough, making self-care practices that much more important. For teenagers, journaling, exercise, and a healthy diet are great places to start.
Here are some activities for teenagers to try:
- Learn a hobby.
- Go hiking with friends.
- Be creative – write, draw, sing, craft, etc.
- Learn how to cook delicious, healthy meals for yourself.
- Try sticking to a study schedule so you don’t get behind in your schooling.
- Ask for support when you need it.
What Are the 8 Areas of Self-care?
The 8 areas of self-care are emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, financial, social, professional, and environmental.
What Are 5 Self-care Strategies?
- Eating healthy/drinking water.
- Physical exercise.
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Being creative.
- Spending time in nature.
Some Things Real People Do for Self-care
There are self-care practices that each of us is naturally more drawn to. To understand how the people around me practice self-care, I asked a few of my friends and family what they do to take care of themselves. This is what I discovered:
|Self-care Activity||Tally of Family/Friends|
|Being in nature||1|
|Standing up for beliefs||1|
|Sticking to a schedule/routine||1|
|Prioritize getting ready||1|
- Self Love – Putting You First Feels Great and Helps Others
- What Is Self Care – How and Why You Deserve to be Happier
- Self Care Is For Everyone – Feeling Happy and Fulfilled
- Spiritual Self Care – Learn the Helpful Ways That Work
- Emotional Self Care – How Caring for Yourself Helps Others
- Why Is Self Care Important – Nurturing Our Own Well Being
- Self Care Tips – My Methods for Happier and Simpler Living
As we’ve discovered, there are many self-care activities for one to try. It’s not always easy to start, but soon you’ll find that taking care of yourself is vitally nourishing to the spirit. It’s important to keep each area in mind, for a sustaining and holistic self-care practice. In what ways do you feel you take care of yourself? What self-care practices are you excited to try?