Self-care is a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning at a physical, mental, social and emotional level.
Caring for your health and well-being means ensuring there is a balance between each of these areas. Sometimes you might need more self-care in one specific area in order to restore balance or find relief from a stressor in your life. This might involve ensuring you get enough sleep every night or taking a break from work for a few minutes to clear your mind.
Self-care is vital for building resilience to cope with unavoidable stressors. When you actively care for your mind and body, you’re better equipped to live your best life.
There are many forms of self-care including:
Physical – Caring for your body means keeping it running efficiently. This is where sleep, diet and exercise come in. The mind-body connection is very strong and when you care for your body, you think and feel better too.
Social – We are social creatures and it is in our DNA to be in meaningful connection with others. The key is to build space into your schedule to ensure you create enough time to nurture your relationships with friends and family.
Mental – The mind can be a dangerous place if we haven’t developed a healthy relationship with our inner world. Learning to become more aware of our mental patterns (thoughts) increases our psychological flexibility by providing opportunities to respond more adaptively. With mindful awareness, we can develop skills to support our ability to work with what is showing up on the inside. Self compassion and acceptance are two valuable tools that enhance our capacity to support ourselves in the midst of inner turmoil and suffering.
Emotional – Without tools to safely manage distressing emotions like anger, anxiety and sadness, we can quickly fall victim to their overwhelming power. Practicing mindfulness skills that keep us open and non-judgmental of our emotional experience and which support our ability to unhook from internal dialogues that exacerbate our struggle, significantly improves self care.
The research tells us that this holistic approach to self-care is positively correlated with life satisfaction, emotional intelligence, social connection, optimism, positive affect, and happiness and negatively correlated with self-criticism, perfectionism, anxiety and rumination (Neff, 2011).
It is not only a valid practice but a priority in our lives.
What is one thing you can do today to practice self-care?