Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. And in this case, overall health includes not just the physical, but the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being. The term “self-care” was coined by healthcare professionals, back in the 1980s, to encourage patients and clients to engage in healthy lifestyle choices and stress management.
Self-Care is not just about getting enough sleep, eating right, getting regular exercise, and/or getting rid of clutter in your life (although they all help!). Self-Care is also about doing things that you love, and give you a sense of passion about life.
Taking care of your body is what self-care concepts are based upon. Self-care for the body includes those activities that doctors usually recommend to patients, such as sticking to guidelines for body fat percentages and caloric intake, drinking enough water, sleeping at least seven hours per night, and exercising regularly.
Taking care of the mind is just as important as taking care of the body, even if the recommended activities for psychological self-care vary between individuals. For those who have a mental health disorder, psychological self-care may mean taking medications and using therapy as prescribed by a psychiatrist. It also may require learning how to combat negative self-talk and addressing the emotions and psychological triggers that lead to feelings of defeat in relationships or the workplace.
Emotional self-care is highly related to psychological self-care because there is overlap between the psyche and the emotions. For people who are experiencing a great deal of stress or grief and bereavement, emotional self-care may involve taking the time to properly grieve the loss of a relationship or loved one. It may mean journaling about anger or talking about paralyzing feelings with a friend or counselor. Certainly, it means addressing any depression that makes it difficult to leave the house. Many adults do not have a strong understanding of their emotional lives, but emotions deeply impact relationships, careers, and physical self-care.
If all a person ever does is work, it’s difficult to practice social self-care. Social self-care involves just having fun with the people you love. It may mean going out to coffee with a best friend or planning a fabulous date night with your spouse. It means talking effectively through conflict, and addressing the emotional needs of the people you love.
The time for social self-care is now, because you never know how long you have with the ones you love. Furthermore, socializing helps create positive health outcomes.
Although people, especially women, often think of self-care as selfish, just the opposite is true. Being selfish is to be focused on one's own needs regardless of the needs of others. Selfish acts come at the expense of others. Self-care, on the other hand, is intentionally taking time to do something that energizes you. Often busy women declare that they simply don't have time to take care of themselves. The irony is that saying there is no time to take care of yourself means that taking better care of yourself is exactly what you need to do! And, if you don't do it for yourself, do it for someone else: Fill your pitcher so you can fill someone else's cup lovingly and calmly—and without stress-related spill-over.