Apps, books, and podcasts promote self-care at an all-time high intensity. The term self-care has been used since the 1950s to describe practices that increase a person’s overall well-being. It involves intentional actions that nurture our mind, body, and soul. But worsening mental health trends reveal that self-care continues to be a growing need.
In our hustle-culture, self-care often takes a back seat – to our harm. Look around. Everyone seems to be caught up in an overwhelming whirlwind of daily responsibilities and pressures. We live in a time where ever-increasing depression, anxiety, anger, and stress produces a myriad of personal and relational problems. There are many possible reasons for these troubling psychological trends, but each problem can be improved by effective self-care.
More people in the United States are struggling with their mental health. Trends show that people are looking for practical and effective strategies they can use on their own. In this blog, let's explore the essence of self-care and some practical ideas for developing it.
Self-care is the use of a collection of practices that refresh a person’s mind, body, and soul. Given our draining lives, it's a non-negotiable necessity. Just like we maintain our vehicles and recharge our phones, each of us must also recharge ourselves to function optimally. Far beyond spa days and bubble baths, self-care focuses on developing a lifestyle that calms and renews our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Contrary to a common misconception, self-care isn't selfish. Self-care is not only good for you, but it makes you better in your work and relationships.
The Benefits of Self-Care
Incorporating self-care practices into our routines offers many benefits:
Improved Physical Health: Proper self-care has been shown to have physical health benefits and can strengthen the immune system, making the body more resilient to illnesses and stress.
Enhanced Mental/Emotional Well-being: Self-care reduces the stress response, anxiety, anger, and depression, fostering a more positive mindset. It also builds emotional resilience, enabling individuals to bounce back more easily from setbacks or challenging situations.
Increased Productivity: Taking time for self-care makes your time in other areas more productive. Self-care improves mental focus, enhances creativity, and increases productivity in nearly all areas of life. People who practice self-care are less prone to burn-out.
Better Relationships: When we care for ourselves, we can care for and relate to others better. It is difficult to love or serve others when we feel drained and stressed. Think about how your relationships would improve if you were not so stressed and drained.
Types of Self-Care / The Multifaceted Nature of Self-Care
Humans have many interconnected parts. Self-care seeks to refresh each of these areas. Here are a few categories and practical ideas of self-care practices.
Physical Self-Care: As physical beings, we must take care of our bodies through proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and hygiene practices. Engaging in activities that make you feel good physically falls into this category. Physical self-care has an impact on a person’s mood. Don’t you feel better after a shower and when you are dressed in your favorite shirt?
> Google the topic of sleep hygiene.
> Regularly do something physical that you enjoy – walk in nature, go to the gym, do yoga, take a bike ride, etc.
> Try a new healthy recipe.
Emotional Self-Care: Emotions make us human! We all know firsthand that emotions are a very powerful and important part of our lives. We must acknowledge and address our emotions. Emotional self-care includes journaling, mindfulness, processing old wounds, forgiveness, and more. Imagine the attitudes and behaviors that would flow from a balanced emotional life.
> Make lists of the things for which you are truly thankful.
> Cultivate a balanced experience of the various human emotions.
Mental / Cognitive Self-Care: Constructing an accurate world-view is an important part of self-care. Sometimes our thoughts become confused, conflicted, or even combative. Self-care should include identifying and replacing our negative thoughts. It takes time and concentrated effort to detect troubling thoughts and replace them with better ones.
> Write stuff down: Don’t create more things for your subconscious mind to remember. Write down ideas, appointments, and to-do lists so you don’t have to remember them
> Review your personal core values and make sure you are living in sync with them.
> Identify, examine, and improve the thoughts that accompany your complaints and emotions.
Relational Self-Care: Surrounding yourself with people who help and encourage you is an important part of social self-care. Create a regular habit of spending quality time with supportive friends or family members with whom you can be open and honest. It also includes nurturing healthy relationships, forgiving offenses, and setting boundaries.
> Seek advice about a personal growth goal from a wise and trusted mentor.
> Think about the offenses or wrongs inflicted upon you by others - and forgive them.
> Join a ministry team or service organization that serves others.
Spiritual Self-Care: We are all spiritual beings with spiritual needs. Deep down we long to experience moments of transcendence, peace, and purpose. Bible reading, meditation, interactive prayer, worship, and spending time in nature can contribute significantly to a person’s well-being.
> Use your Sundays wisely. God has given you one day each week to rest, refresh, and refocus. Use it well!
> Create habits that replenish your soul using a variety of spiritual practices. Google “spiritual disciplines” and experiment with them.
Occupational Self-Care: You spend more hours working than in almost any other activity. Your emotions and habits at work have a big impact on your mental health and well-being.
> Seek meaning and fulfillment in your work.
> Develop healthy work habits that include mental and physical breaks
> Create a weekly work calendar and weekly goal that organizes your priorities.
Life Management: Life management refers to the skills of balancing your roles and responsibilities in order to improve happiness and productivity.
> Create goals for each of your personal roles and put them in your weekly calendar.
> Don’t Procrastinate. Putting off tasks adds to your mental stress.
> Incorporate self-care activities into your weekly schedule.
In today's fast-paced and chaotic world, we tend to forget the most important priority: self-care. Self-care isn't a luxury. It is not optional. It is a foundation to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and it is a necessity for a healthy life and relationships.
In a world that demands more than it gives, each of us needs a lifestyle that prioritizes refreshing and refocusing. Make a conscious effort to prioritize your well-being. Embrace it with wisdom, compassion, and dedication. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is simply recognizing that by taking care of yourself, you become more capable of giving your best to others and the world.
Start today - Prioritize self-care and watch how it transforms your life, one step at a time. Experiment with various self-care activities to discover what resonates best with you. It may take a little time and practice, but figure out what self-care means to you and develop habits that that calm and renew your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It’s is not only good for you, but it will make you better in your work and relationships.
Do you need some help with developing a healthy self-care lifestyle? We can help.
We are a biblical counseling practice serving Gallatin, Hendersonville, and Sumner County in Tennessee. We specialize in helping stressed-out people regain control of their lives and become who they aspire to be. In a handful of sessions, you'll gather new insights and tool for becoming a better person, partner, parent, employee, and friend.
Don't continue to struggle alone - reach out to Next Step Counseling today and take the first step towards a better tomorrow. Schedule a free exploratory call with Dave Crandall. Learn about how a handful of counseling sessions can change your life, your family, and your legacy. Or schedule an initial session.