You’ve probably heard the term “self-care” a lot lately. It’s a popular buzzword, particularly since the pandemic began. Here’s a primer of what it is, why it’s important, and why it’s particularly important now.
Self-care is defined as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” Sounds simple enough, right? But this is much easier said than done. Taking an active role in our own well-being can feel impossible, especially when we’re under duress.
Many aspects to our well-being need to be taken into account, such as emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, personal, and professional, etc. To maintain a balanced sense of self, we can’t completely neglect any one aspect. Part of developing a personal self-care routine is determining how much time and effort to devote to each area. You know yourself best: if your physical health is more important than your spiritual health, you should dedicate more time to it.
Self-care is whatever nourishes you in body, mind, and spirit. It is highly individualized and multi-faceted. There is no one recipe for perfect wellness. Start by considering each aspect of your well-being in the self-care wheel and decide how much of each one you need:
Emotional - practice self-compassion, laugh, find a rewarding hobby, cry or release emotions in healthy ways, social justice engagement
Physical - safe housing, medical care, eating healthy, exercise, sleep, taking time off, getting massages
Spiritual - self-reflection, spiritual community, practice meditation, volunteer, go into nature
Psychological - self-awareness, therapy, journaling/drawing, support groups, practice asking for and receiving help
Personal - explore who you are and what you want in life, plan short and long-term goals, connect with loved ones
Professional - take time for lunch, set boundaries, plan your next career move, leave work at work
It may be helpful to map out what you need more of in order to feel your best self. Creating a routine that incorporates more of these “feel-good” habits will help you feel well-balanced and grounded, affecting every aspect of life. You’ll feel more present and in charge of your well-being, and less at the mercy of situations you’re unable to control.
Why is self-care especially important now?
Wellness is particularly important now because so much is out of our individual control. Something we do have control over is how we react to and navigate the pandemic on individual and community levels. When we’re able to show up for ourselves in each aspect of our being, we’re able to manage our emotions and react better to situations beyond our control. We can better support our friends, family, and communities when we’re in a balanced state of mind.
Living through a pandemic comes with countless challenges, but taking care of yourself and practicing a well-rounded self-care routine can help mitigate some of these challenges and help you adapt to change.
If you feel the need for additional support, many therapists are offering therapy via video. Telehealth is a safe and effective way to receive mental health support. Reaching out for help can be your first step toward better self-care.