Developing a Self-Care Practice
When we get stressed, overwhelmed, or experience burnout, it is crucial that we make time for ourselves! Some of us imagine self-care as taking a long bubble bath, spoiling ourselves with a fancy hot beverage from our favorite coffee spot, or maybe scheduling a much-needed massage. Self-care can look different for everyone, and not everyone has the same idea of what may help improve their well-being. Time at the hair salon might seem like the ideal afternoon of self-care for one person, but for another that same activity could feel like an uncomfortable chore. The point is that self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. Self-care is a deliberate act; it is self-initiated, and it is purposeful.
Some benefits of making self-care a habit include reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression; increased adaptability to change; improved relationships with others; and higher levels of resiliency. There are also different domains beyond physical self-care to focus on when creating a routine including psychological, spiritual, emotional, and professional.
Check out the domains below and determine which areas in your life could use a bit more self-care practices!
Psychological: Have you been feeling mentally overloaded? Maybe things have been piling up and you are noticing increased irritation and possibly even some anger or resentment. It may be time for some self-reflection; grab a journal and make a cup of hot tea and start writing. Some benefits of keeping a journal include increased self-confidence and emotional intelligence, higher levels of creativity, and increased memory. If journaling is not your thing, other psychological self-care practices include: participating in a support group, opening up to others in a safe space, saying ‘no’ to extra responsibilities, and engaging in activities that promote positive mental stimulation including visiting an art museum or history exhibit.
Spiritual: Being spiritual does not always mean practicing a particular religion. Sometimes developing healthy spiritual self-care practices are about engaging in meaningful activities that help enrich your highest self. If you have been lacking a sense of direction in life or perhaps feeling a bit nihilistic, these spiritually-focused self-care practices may work for you: meditate, pray, sing, read inspirational literature, practice your faith, or spend some time in nature. Taking time alone for self-reflection and discovering what is meaningful to you may help you live a more purpose-focused life.
Emotional: If emotions have been heavy for you lately, it may be a good idea to look into self-care practices that will nourish your emotional health. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Practice positive affirmations. Allow yourself to cry. Find things that make you smile or laugh. Spending a minimum of 15 minutes doing an activity that allows you to express your emotions or experience a positive emotion can have long term benefits on your overall health. Find time in your schedule to implement these self-care practices if you are feeling emotionally drained.
Professional: Many of us struggle to balance duties at work with other aspects of ourselves including being a good parent, a supportive friend, finishing household duties, etc. Some of us experience burnout at work and by the time we get home, the only thing we feel like doing is grabbing something quick (and probably unhealthy) to eat and sitting in front of the TV to zone out and relax. A few self-care practices to help instill positive changes in this domain include: taking breaks during work hours, bringing a healthy meal option to work, going for a ten minute walk outside on your break, saying ‘no’ to extra work, turning work off when you get home, and finding time throughout the work day to chat with coworkers. It’s not easy to feel motivated and inspired when you are experiencing burnout at work, but making small changes throughout your work day can make a difference.
If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed in multiple areas of your life and are struggling to implement self-care practices, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a therapist. Here at 253 Therapy and Consult, we understand the struggle and we are here for you!