Self-care can mean something different from one person to another. In general, self-care includes any intentional act you take to care for your physical, emotional, and mental health. While good self-care practices are often overlooked due to the daily grind of life, they are imperative for overall wellness and health.
They help us fight off diseases and assist with stress management. These practices need to be part of our daily routines. Self-care is unique for everyone and does not have to be a daunting task. It is never too late to begin and the payoff is tremendous. Parents that model good self-care actions are more likely to have children adapt to them too. Below are some ideas to get you started in developing your own self-care plan. When working with children and teens, I have them draw a self-care pie chart with the five categories listed below and with an act or two under each one. This way they can resort to it as tool and easy reference to check what areas are strong and which ones are perhaps being neglected. Please note that there are so many additional examples of actions that can fit into each category, but I am just providing some of them to give you a good start.
Physical (body) Category: Examples include exercising (at least three times a week), eating three healthy meals a day, sleeping at least 8 hours each night, drinking at least six (eight ounce) glasses of water a day, taking any medicines or vitamin supplements as prescribed, limiting intake of caffeine, sugar, junk foods and alcohol. Also, refrain from risky behavior.
Intellectual (mind and keeping your brain sharp) Category: Examples include reading, doing crossword puzzles, meditating, writing poetry, engaging in art activities, gardening, playing board games, cooking, knitting, listening to music, playing an instrument, socializing with friends, and trying something new. Also, don’t forget to take a daily high quality Omega-3 supplement.
Emotional Category: Examples includes daily mindfulness practices, meditation, or yoga, checking in with yourself and asking how you are doing physically, emotionally and mentally, getting daily exposure to outside (green time), engaging in a daily fun/non-stressful activity you like, journaling, exercising as a means of releasing negative emotions, spending time with people that make you feel good about yourself, avoid taking on others’ stress and focus on YOU, setting limits on how much time you spend with people that often complain and are unhappy, screening your calls, turning off or not accessing your phone close to bed time, volunteering at a local charity or helping out in the community, and asking for help when feeling overwhelmed.
Social Category: Examples include engaging in extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, dance, theatre, art, hiking, or other hobby you enjoy), staying socially engaged with supportive friends, joining a book club, volunteering, doing random acts of kindness, and learning a new skill.
Spiritual Category (to include self-compassion): Examples include finding a spiritual connection, reading an uplifting book, connecting with nature, meditating, praying, being kind to yourself, forgiving yourself, journaling, and following practices consistent with your specific religious affiliation.
Maria Kanakos, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist