When was the last time you felt refreshed? Was it when you went for a walk? Or when you ate out with friends?
Self-care looks different for everyone, so don’t get concerned if you feel tired even after you’ve tried the tips you’ve read online. Consider pausing, taking a deep breath, and emptying your mind as we discover together the real self-care activities that can benefit you.
What self-care is and what it isn’t?
Before you identify the kind of self-care you need, let’s first define the real meaning of self-care.
Real self-care is the practice of preserving and improving your health by doing something that you truly enjoy.
It should make you better in the long term. It is not a quick-fix where you patch a band-aid on and you’re done. You are having fun while doing it and you feel rejuvenated after, even if it was a few weeks ago.
Authentic self-care is done freely. It is not forced. Do you tend to say, “Ugh! I have to make time for myself again,” or “I can’t wait to do this! I am so excited!”. Think about the activities you’ll take part in. If they excite you, then that is real self-care!
It should be intentional and viewed as essential. Self-care should not be seen as insignificant. Most of us are busy, and that’s very understandable. But do you think you could spare 30 seconds off of your 24-hour day to take deep breaths? Sometimes self-care takes 30 seconds to pause and be in the moment.
Are you unsteady, weak, and sad after doing a self-care activity? If yes, maybe that activity is not for you. You should feel balanced, firm, and happy when doing self-care shenanigans. What you can do to form balance within you is to use the four types of self-care in our Self-Care Planner. Let’s start by explaining the four types of self-care and what the Self-care Planner is. Then, we’ll give you four tips to practice them.
The four types of self-care and the self-care planner
The four aspects are spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional. They all play an essential role in taking care of one’s self. This self-care planner shows the four parts you need to feel balanced and whole. Let’s talk about them.
Spiritual self-care is all about nurturing your spirit, belonging to a community, and connecting with others or nature.
You don’t need to practice a religion to do a spiritual self-care activity. It involves anything that helps you develop a more profound sense of meaning in life. Some examples are touching the grass with your bare hands or helping others.
The way you think and the thoughts you put in your mind influence your mental health. Mental self-care includes filling your mind with new ideas, attending a counselling session, and practicing self-compassion.
What does your body tell you? Are you sleepy or hungry? Physical self-care includes eating healthy, doing physical activity, sleeping well, or going to a doctor’s appointment if needed. Note that you don’t need to do a hardcore exercise for physical self-care. It can be as simple as standing up and stretching for 30 seconds.
How do you deal with overwhelming emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, or annoyance? When you acknowledge your pleasant and unpleasant feelings, you are doing emotional self-care.
“I feel annoyed because I think I could have done better awhile ago,” saying this is a way to own your feelings. Let the emotion sit for a minute. When you are ready, say to yourself what you can do to feel less annoyed. “I will take a deep breath and notice that there is always another time to make things better.”
Remember that uncomfortable emotions are part of human nature. It is normal to feel them. What matters is that you allow yourself to feel them and know how to handle them in a healthy way.
These four types of self-care can stabilize and restore your energy when done all together, intentionally, and regularly. But how do you know what spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional self-care activities are for you? How do you start?
Here are four tips to practicing true self-care:
1. Think about activities that bring you joy
Use this self-care planner as a guide to practicing true self-care.
Contemplate the meanings of the four types of self-care. Think of one spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional activity that fills you up. Take at least 30 seconds to think about these activities. Then, imagine you are already doing them. How does it feel? Do you smile when you think about them? If yes, go to the second tip.
2. Dedicate time to doing the activities that make you happy
Allot a time in your day to do the activities that make you happy, whether that means devoting 1 minute or 1 hour of your day. Aim to do one type of self-care daily. For example, one day, you chose to do mental self-care and emotional self-care for the other.
You may also have a less busy day today, and you decide to do a 1-hour spiritual self-care activity. If touching the leaves nurtures your spirit, go for it. If you are unsure, use the examples in the Self-care Planner as a guide.
3. Be kind to yourself.
Most of us are busy, and that is understandable. Try not to be harsh on yourself and feel bad when you don’t do a self-care activity. It may be unrealistic for some people to do self-care every day, and that is okay! What matters is you are aware of it, and you plan to do it.
Note that you don’t need 1 hour to take care of yourself. It would be nice if you can, but if you can’t, that is alright. If you don’t have a lot of time and you know you need to take a break, consider mindfully drinking a glass of water. Think about how it flows from your mouth to your body for 5 seconds. That by itself is an activity of physical self-care!
4. Develop your own self-care plan
The self-care planner shows four characteristics that people need to feel stable. You can use this as a manual to develop your self-care plan. Customize your self-care plan to your needs and your current situation in life.
A self-care plan for a single caregiver who works two part-time jobs and has four kids may only have 5 minutes for themselves. As a physical self-care activity, they can have three deep breaths to empty their mind. Feasible, right?
On the other hand, a person who is retired may have three hours for themselves. They may attend a 2-hour spiritual service and journal for 30 minutes.
Ultimately, real self-care is all about discovering the particular side of your life that has been neglected (spiritual, mental, physical, or emotional). Then, prioritize yourself by creating a plan to fulfill that forgotten side.
When you do one small step to take care of yourself, you will find that you can accomplish more and function more effectively.