Self-care may seem like just a meaningless buzzword during this pandemic, but it couldn’t be further from the truth! In short, it’s the concept of prioritising and taking time for yourself – which, in times of stress or pressure, can support positive mental health and wellbeing.
It’s not a flash in-in-the-pan concept, either. Self-care has always been at the forefront of human practice, dating back to Plato when he proclaimed the benefits of reflection and contemplation. Mindfulness also has roots to Buddhism, Ancient Greeks were all about self-love – so, it’s definitely not just a new age fad…
The dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness’, which summarises the modern take on it. For us, what a person defines as their own version of self-care changes from individual to individual – some love cooking, some may love exercising.
In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to share the five essential ways in how to exercise self-care, helping you to stay mentally healthy and happy.
Why is it important to exercise self-care?
In a busy and modern world with technology always just a fingertip away, it can be difficult to simply switch off – especially in today’s always on, always online society. It’s for this reason that it’s important we remember to look after our basic human needs; such as enjoying a healthy diet, feeling safe and resting regularly.
Self-care consists of 5 key elements, including:
1. Physical Self-Care
Much like the engine in your car, if you want your body to run efficiently, you’ll need to make an effort to take care of it! There’s a strong connection between your body and your mind so, when you care for your body you’ll often think and feel better about yourself, too.
Physical self-care can include how you’re fueling your own body, how much sleep you’re getting and how much physical activity you’re doing.
When it comes to caring for your physical health, ask yourself:
- Do you sleep 7-8 hours a night?
- Do you have balanced diet, providing your body with essential nutrients?
- Are you taking charge of your health?
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Are you staying hydrated and drinking enough water?
2. Social Self-Care
Staying social is key to self-care. However, with the world of work potentially encroaching in our personal lives, we may find it hard to make time for friends and family.
Having close connections are essential to your well-being. The best way to cultivate and maintain these close relationships is to put specific time and energy into building those relationships with others.
Of course, there isn’t a golden number of hours you need to devote to your friends and family as everyone has different social needs! However, the key is to work out what your personal social needs are and set time aside each week for those who are important to you.
As a result of the current lockdown, we’ve found ourselves with more time than ever and trying to stay positive can be difficult. So, why not schedule those FaceTime catch ups in? Or perhaps go old school and spend some time writing a letter to an elderly relative to let them know that you’re thinking of them.
3. Mental Self-Care
The way you think has the ability to greatly influence your psychological well-being. Mental self-care includes doing things that keeps your mind sharp; like puzzles or reading up on a subject that you have a personal passion in.
Try and take some time out each week to read a book outside of your comfort zone; like trying a new recipe, do some drawing, meditation, yoga or even practice self-compassion. Taking time out of your week to work on something that means something to you personally will allow you to grow, reflect and expand your inner dialogue.
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4. Emotional Self-Care
Regularly changing emotions and feelings is human nature, but it’s important to have healthy coping skills to deal with any uncomfortable emotions like anger, anxiety and sadness.
Emotional self-care can include activities to help you acknowledge and express your feelings on a regular basis and learn how to take control, not letting them spiral out of control.
5. Practical Self-Care
Finally, to feel in control and happy, it’s important you make time to fill core aspects in your life that can prevent you from future stressful situations. This can include creating a budget, allowing you to plan ahead financially and making sure there are enough funds for a rainy day.
There are also day-to-day activities which can also help with your practical self-care. Perhaps you could organise your wardrobe, bedroom and kitchen so it works perfectly in a system that allows your mornings to run smoothly? After all, starting your day off to a smooth start can set you up for a productive and happy one.
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