Self Care article

Self-care is very topical at the moment.  According to Google Trends, the number of searches for “self-care” has more than doubled since 2015.  And psychologists have even identified a fourth type of intelligence, name Adversity Quotient (AQ) – the intelligence that measures your ability to go through a rough patch in life and come out of it without feeling totally lost.

According to Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, an associate professor and chair of the department of psychological and educational consultation at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, says the need for self-care is obvious. “We have an epidemic of anxiety and depression,” she says. “Everybody feels it.”

What is self-care?

Self-care has been defined as “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being”. 1 Essentially, the term describes a conscious act a person takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, and emotional health.

It is part of the answer to how we can all better cope with daily stressors, explains Kelsey Patel, a Los Angeles–based wellness expert and the author of the forthcoming book Burning Bright: Rituals, Reiki, and Self-Care to Heal Burnout, Anxiety, and Stress

Daily stressors include work stress, the  stress of trying to keep up with the pace of daily life, which technology has hastened more than ever (just think how many emails come flooding into your inbox each day). “People are feeling lonelier and less able to unwind and slow down, which makes them feel more anxious and overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks,” Patel says.

Self-care requires a regular check-in with yourself, asking yourself how you’re doing and what your body needs. We all have our own coping mechanisms and therefore self-care does not mean the same thing to everyone. People will adopt different self-care practices.  “What one person regards as self-care today, may be a different action next week.  Self-care is important for us to be the best that we can be, and to maintain a positive state of mind.

We all take the decision as part of new year resolutions to take better care of ourselves, and make time for ourselves.  However, once we get into the rhythm and demands of the year, self-care becomes a luxury and it is no longer regarded as a priority.

Categories of self-care:

There are several ways we can take care of ourselves.  Small things that can make a huge difference in our lives.

  1. Emotional self-care, such as self-talk, weekly bubble baths, saying “no” to things that cause unnecessary stress, giving yourself permission to take a pause, or setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend.
  1. Physical self-care, such as prioritizing sleep, adopting an exercise routine you can stick with, choosing healthy and nourishing foods over highly processed ones.  Sometimes a hair cut will make you feel years younger and more energized!
  2. Spiritual self-care, such as attending a religious service, spending time in nature, meditating or doing slow thinking,  incorporating regular acts of kindness into your day, or keeping a gratitude journal.

self care types

self care actions

How to make self-care part of your daily routine

Whether we acknowledge this or not, most of us live routine lives.  So, why not make self-care part of your daily routine? Get into the habit of practicing self-care – small steps on a regular basis will soon start having a big impact on your wellness.  Select one practice each week and add this to your daily routine. Note any positive and add more practices when you feel ready.

  1. Spend time outdoors (30 minutes each day)
  2. Do a deep breathing exercise to calm yourself down.
  3. Take a cold shower to invigorate your body.
  4. Maintain friendships
  5. Get regular exercise
  6. Keep to a balance diet
  7. Ask for help and accept it when it is offered
  8. Think of yourself as you own best friend
  9. Plan something to look forward to
  10. Spend quality time away from the usual demands of each day
  11. Get enough quality sleep
  12. Practice relaxation
  13. Do something that helps you to relax
  14. Read a good book
  15. Drink lots of water
  16. Get a hobby
  17. Watch a movie
  18. Turn your TV off
  19. Use your senses and note what you are aware of.
  20. Challenge yourself to learn a new skill (language, knitting, painting or business skill like bookkeeping).

 

It is important to celebrate your “wins” and acknowledge your progress.  Come on – let us use the 2 months of this year to give ourselves better care, more kindness and more me-time.

 

References: Dorociak KE, Rupert PA, Bryant FB, Zahniser E. Development of a self-care assessment for psychologistsJournal of Counseling Psychology. 2017;64(3):325-334. doi:10.1037/cou0000206https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000206

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