Self-care. We have seen representations of self-care in many movies, television shows, and other forms of media. In the age of social media and with the cultural shift towards acknowledging and valuing mental health, self-care has become a topic that is often shared about in pretty Instagram infographics, or short 180-character tweets. Google trends also indicate a cultural change showing that the number of searches for the term “self-care” has more than doubled since 2015. However, self-care is a practice that is very important and goes beyond what we see in social media or popular culture.
What is Self-Care?
What do you think of when you first hear the words “self-care”? It is often associated with alone time, treating yourself, or the occasional bubble bath. Despite these all being valid forms of self-care, there is so much more to the concept. Self-care can be defined as “self-initiated behaviour that people choose to incorporate to promote good health and wellbeing”.
There are five types of self-care that one can engage in to promote good health and wellbeing:
The first is emotional self-care, which includes how you cope, express, and acknowledge your feelings can include things such as:
- setting boundaries
- saying “no” to things that cause stress
- bubble baths
The second is physical self-care, which is how you take care of your body, can include:
- an exercise routine
- prioritizing your sleep schedule
- choosing healthy food options that nourish you
The third is mental self-care, which is the way you think and keeping your mind sharp. This can can include:
- Making time for activities that mentally stimulate you
- Practicing self-compassion and acceptance
The fourth is social self-care, which is how you cultivate and maintain close relationships can include:
- Nurturing relationships with friends and family
- Getting enough face-to-face time with loved ones
The fifth is spiritual self-care, which is involving in something that can help you develop a deeper sense of being, includes things such as:
- spending time in nature
- attending a religious service
Why does Self-Care Matter?
Self-care is very important, with 60-70% of chronic illnesses being attributed to a lack of the core aspects of self-care. However, there are many reasons why one may not feel drawn to self-care. It is often thought that self-care is not an activity that everyone can engage in, with 44% believing that self-care is only possible for those with enough time, and 35% believing that self-care is only an achievable practice if you have enough money.
When you notice areas in your life that may be getting neglected, self-care calls us to create a plan to change and improve the situation for our wellbeing. What is important to keep in mind about self-care is that it can be incorporated into your day-to-day life and be built into the routines you already have in your life. Examples can be getting comfortable bedding or changing parts of your diet to foods that make you feel good, as well as nourish your body. It is also important to remember that you do not have to change everything at once to practice self-care. Small steps can lead to taking better care of yourself and will make an impact that is long-lasting.