Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, and improve energy.
Self-care is defined by the term itself – caring for yourself. Self-care includes anything you do to keep yourself healthy – physically, mentally and spiritually. Although prioritizing self-care may sound like common sense, especially if you’re considering longevity, it’s often the first thing to go when we find ourselves in challenging situations.
Why is Self-Care Important?
In a society in which people are expected to work long hours and pass on vacation days, there is an underlying belief that we must always be productive. This mindset can ultimately take away from opportunities for self-care. By taking some time out to engage in self-care, you may relieve the pressures of everyday life and reset yourself to get back to a healthy point where productivity is once again maximized. Considering the costs associated with mental health services, lost wages and more, spending some time on yourself may ultimately benefit everyone.
Burning the candle at both ends comes with significant consequences, which may include but are not limited to burnout, depression, anxiety, resentment and a whole host of negative implications. Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, and more. From a physical health perspective, self-care has been clinically proven to reduce heart disease, stroke and cancer. Spiritually, it may help keep us in tune with our higher power as well as realize our meaning in life.
Perhaps the single most common reason people give for not participating in self-care is lack of time. While many of us have a lot going on, it’s important that we take time out every day for ourselves, even if minimally. Self-care doesn’t have to cost a thing and you can even accomplish it in the convenience of your own home. Remember that self-care is all about you. What works for one person may not work for another. Find what works for you.
Building a Personalized Self-Care Plan
When focusing on how to build your self-care plan, it may help to consider the 8 dimensions of wellness. These dimensions conceptualize the domains of wellness that make all of us whole and if kept in healthy balance, generally predict higher levels of wellness.
Here are some suggestions to consider among each of the eight domains. Feel free to modify, replace, or consider your own as you go along. Remember, this is about you.
- Emotional – Talk to someone, reflect, journal, read, do something artistic, listen to music, work out, take a walk, watch something that suits the mood or does the opposite and changes it, cry it out, hug someone, cuddle, laugh, take a nap.
- Environmental – Take a walk, breathe in fresh air, enjoy the sun, enjoy the night sky, avoid littering, pick up litter, reduce waste, use reusable products, recycle, clean your house, redesign a room.
- Financial – Develop a practical financial plan, open a savings account, start saving (even if $1 per day), try saving even more if you are already saving, invest, cut back on unnecessary purchases, consider where you can cut corners, avoid credit cards, ask for a raise.
- Intellectual – Read, listen to audiobooks, watch documentaries, complete puzzles, be mindful of the world around you, become curious, try something new, tap into your creative side, take a class, complete a program, graduate.
- Occupational – Learn a trade, get your degree, train for a promotion, accept the promotion, put together your resume, polish your resume, apply for your dream job, take on a task you enjoy, open your own business.
- Physical – Work out daily, take a walk, eat healthy, get your annual checkup, see the dentist, take medications as prescribed, avoid drugs and alcohol, get 7-9 hours of sleep, see the physician when you do not feel well.
- Social – Meet up with friends and family, keep in contact with old friends, volunteer, go out, have fun, engage in healthy social media use, utilize technology when distance is a factor, have a big laugh.
- Spiritual – Meditate, pray, reflect, engage in yoga, visit a meaningful site, do right by others, consider your higher purpose and meaning, look to your higher power for support, love one another, help those in need.
Self-care is an important activity to do every day. Doing so will lead toward a better balance among your dimensions of wellness and lead toward improved overall health and wellness. Life is precious, and it is meant to be enjoyed.
What to Do in a Crisis
If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. This service is confidential, free, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In life-threatening situations, call 911.