Six important areas for a balanced approach to self-care
When I first started studying to become a counselor my initial thoughts on self-care were only about taking a vacation once or twice a year. While that can be fun, enjoyable, restful, and therapeutic, the idea of self-care I learned is a much broader topic and can encompass several areas of life. One doesn’t have to wait months and spend tons of time and money on planning and scheduling and booking of plans, hotels, and automobiles. No, it can actually be the little daily things we carve out time to help reenergize and refocus us. A series of little things, done daily, can help us maintain our mind, body, and spirit in the face of difficulty, adversity, worry, doubt, or fear. Below are six areas that, when attended to, can help anyone continue to move forward in life even when the going has gotten tough.
For some, looking after our physical bodies might be the more difficult of all six. But don’t worry, you don’t have to join a gym to help yourself in this area. Never underestimate the power of a hot shower or a good soak in the tub. Simply taking care of your personal hygiene can be a great way to recharge your batteries. Yes, exercise is important, but simply taking a walk around the neighborhood every day can have a lot of benefits. And let’s not forget the importance of healthy eating and getting sufficient sleep.
Your mental self-care can take a lot of different forms as well. Turning off the news can be a great way to lower your stress levels. Replacing the news with a good book or a favorite entertainment can help shift your focus to something enjoyable or thought-provoking.
This is going to be a shameless plug for counseling, but spending time with a trained mental health counselor is an excellent way to process through any emotional pain, trauma, or grief you may be experiencing. Counseling can also be a great way to help raise insight into those areas of vulnerability we all have. If counseling is not an option, then a close friend or mentor, someone who can walk with us and help share our burdens, can be very beneficial.
The engagement of faith can be very helpful during difficult times. Attending a service or volunteering at a local place of worship, reading scripture, or spending time in prayer or meditation can help your perspective focus on hope and peace.
Given the circumstances, maintaining interpersonal relationships is sometimes the first area that falls by the wayside, and yet is so very important to your self-care. However, relationships can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being. A simple phone call or visiting with a friend over coffee or lunch can be just what is needed to help you feel connected to life again.
This area might not be as fun as the others, but it is still important to make sure you pay attention to the mundane areas of life like paying bills, doing laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning and going to work. Neglect in these routines may likely be an indication of a problem in any or all of the other areas. Although these routines may seem like mundane chores you would rather postpone, a timely taking care of them can give you a sense of accomplishment when completed.
While I encourage all to try and spend time with each of these areas, please don’t feel like you have to hit each one every day. Instead, I would recommend making a plan or a schedule to focus a little time each day for any of these areas while paying particular attention to the ones that are most important and beneficial for you. Your efforts at making time for yourself in these areas can reset your overall mental, physical, and spiritual health.