The self-care industry is one of the fastest growing consumer trends and billions of dollars are spent annually on advertisements to encourage people to buy products, take trips, schedule spa days, and the list goes on, all in the pursuit of self-care. The problem is that these advertisements can lead us to believe that self-care is an elaborate luxury that we only experience once is a while. I prefer to think of self-care as something to incorporate into my daily life. I do love a good spa day or pedicure, but self-care takes discipline to ensure that health and well-being are a priority. The act of self-care creates balance and helps establish boundaries, so that I can make decisions to spend my time on focusing on what is important.
Self-care can be defined as a purposeful act that a person takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. When we take the time to actively manage our lives in these five key areas, we essentially fill our “energy cup” and create space in our minds to think clearly.
Self-care is an important tool that can help us manage stress and become more resilient. Stress is inevitable and numerous stressors come at us each day in all areas of our lives. In order to bring our best self to each situation, we need to have energy reserves to handle the situation and to be able to think clearly to respond in the most effective way.
Self-care can help in managing anxiety and depression by improving our mood and increasing our happiness. Depending on the self-care activities you engage in, it can also help you feel more fulfilled and allow you to tap into your creativity. Lastly, when we are in a better place and feel happier, it can improve our interpersonal relationships.
At this point, you may be wondering how to incorporate self-care into the five areas mentioned above. One tool is to create a balance wheel. Assess each of the five areas in your life, the stressors you may encounter, the areas that may need attention and areas where you may feel depleted. Map this onto the wheel and it will show areas that are out of balance and present opportunities to change. To get you thinking, below are questions you can ask yourself to determine if that area may be neglected and to inspire ideas.
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Am I eating a nutritious diet?
- Am I drinking plenty of water?
- Am I exercising regularly?
- Am I taking control of my health?
- Am I making informed medical decisions?
- Am I spending time in nature? (This question could also have a spiritual element to it.)
- Do I have time away from technology?
- Am I practicing self-compassion and acceptance?
- Am I excited about learning new things?
- Am I challenging myself mentally through puzzles or other games?
- Am I reading books that inspire me to think about new topics?
- Have I tried cooking a new recipe or style of food?
- Do I have a way to process my feelings?
- Do I have healthy coping skills to deal with uncomfortable emotions?
- Do I have someone that I can express my feelings safely?
- Do I have a healthy outlet for my emotions?
- Do I have a practice that allows me to develop a deep connection to the universe?
- What activities can I engage in that connects me to universal energy?
- What can I do to nurture my spirit?
- What spiritual practices do I find fulfilling?
- Am I making my relationships a priority and cultivating them?
- Am I seeing my friends and family?
- What am I doing to connect with friends and family?
- Am I challenging myself to engage in new social settings?
Self-care is personal and each of us has different needs to address. Self-care can include elaborate events or luxury retreats, but its important to create a daily routine that includes self-care to fill our “energy cups”. Watch this TEDx Talk to learn 4 quick ways to incorporate self-care into your daily life.