Features,  Lifestyle

Self-Care 101: The Ultimate Guide to Improve Your Life

Sometimes life can become overwhelming, and it’s hard to balance responsibilities-let alone self-care. Yet, self-care includes all of the small changes that you can make in your life that will make you feel happier, healthier, and more capable of taking on your daily tasks. Here’s what you should know about what self-care is, why it’s important, and ideas for self-care in your life. 

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is a conscious act that one takes to promote their own physical, mental, and emotional health. It is vital for building resilience toward stressors in your life that you cannot eliminate. You’re able to live well when you’ve taken steps to care for your mind and body. 

 What Self-Care is Not

self care isn t selfish signage
Photo by Madison Inouye

Self-care is not a selfish act. It isn’t about considering our wants but rather about knowing what we need to do to best take care of ourselves. Many people think of it as a luxury rather than a priority. It is something that should be on your priority list because it helps refuel your body and feel well.  

Why Self-Care is Important?

There’s a reason why airlines remind us to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others. Often, we get stuck in a cycle where we worry about others before worrying about our own well-being. Whether you want to turn in the best work to your boss or you want to give the best life to your kid, humans tend to run themselves ragged to serve others. Yet, you can’t give to other people when you don’t take care of yourself. It is important because you’re taking time to renew yourself regularly.  

Ideas for Self-Care

There are six different types of self-care: emotional, physical, social, practical, mental, and spiritual. You may find that you enjoy practicing different kinds of self-care more than others. As you begin to brainstorm and add various types to your checklist, this can help you come up with ideas.

1. Emotional

Photo by Polina Kovaleva

Emotional self-care activities help you connect, process, and reflect on a full range of emotions. Ideas for emotional self-care include seeing a therapist, writing in a journal, listening to music, or creating art of some kind. 

2. Physical

Photo by Charlotte May

Physical self-care includes activities that you do to improve your physical health. You can participate in physical self-care by taking walks during lunch breaks, sleeping between 7 to 9 hours each night, and staying hydrated.

3. Social

Photo by Cottonbro

Social self-care activities nurture and deepen the relationship with people in your life. Ideas in this category include seeing friends or family members, going on a date, or making time to call loved ones regularly. 

4. Practical

Photo by Ella Olsson

Practical self-care promotes tasks that fulfill your life’s core aspects, so you prevent future stressful situations. If you love being organized, then this type of self-care can help you feel in control of your life. Here are some ideas that fall under this category: creating a monthly budget, taking professional development classes, organizing your closet, or meal prepping on Sundays. 

5. Mental

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Mental self-care is any activity that stimulates your mind or intellect. This includes reading a book, solving a puzzle, playing chess, or going to a museum. Some people love to feel intellectually stimulated, and taking time out of their day to feed that fire can be really fulfilling. 

6. Spiritual

Photo by Eternal Happiness

Spiritual self-care consists of activities that nurture your spirit and allow you to think bigger than yourself. Some people automatically equate the word “spiritual” with religion, but that’s not always the case. Religion may be a source of comfort and self-care. Still, spiritual ideas can include meditating, doing yoga, being in nature, dedicating time for self-reflection, or going to a place of worship.  

 Self-care checklist

Photo by Claire Morgan

Having a self-care checklist can help you to see how self-care fits into your daily life. Keep in mind that this checklist is not exhausted, and you can add to it as you see fit. You can also prioritize some of these ideas based on which type of the six types refuels you most. 

  •  Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly
  • Get out of bed on time 
  • Wash my face 
  • Brush my teeth
  • Take my medication or vitamins 
  • Take a shower
  • Get ready for the day
  • Go outside
  • Drink water
  • Cross something off of my to-do list
  • Meditate 
  • Have a quiet hour
  • Meal plan 
  • Call a family member or friend 
  • Exercise 
  • Declutter a living space 
  • Read a book 
  • Take a break from social media 
  • Eat nutritious food 
  • Plan a fun day out
  • Listen to a podcast 
  • Write in a journal
  • Play with a pet
  • Do yoga
  • Take a warm bath
  • Knit, crochet, or needlepoint
  • Sketch, draw, or paint
  • Listen to music 
  • Dance
  • Light an aromatic candle 
  • Make a gratitude list 
  • Spend an hour without technology 
  • Practice an old hobby 
  • Create a vision board 
  • Have a spa night 
  • Stop procrastinating on a project
  • Eat your favorite dessert 
  • Plan a vacation 
  • Have a virtual coffee day with a friend
  • Stay hydrated

 Final thoughts 

As you develop your self-care plan, recognize that it doesn’t need to be a one-size-fits-all strategy. What works for someone else may not work for you. Consider what types of activities you must incorporate into your routine (sleep, exercise, skincare, medication, hydration) and what would help you fulfill your life (music, art, writing, organization, etc.). Then adjust and go from there – you’ve got this! 

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