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Self-Care: The Five Types


Self-care is buzz word these days. When we think of self-care, we often think of bubble baths and face masks, facials, or massages. Those are definitely things we use to take care of ourselves but I think we take for granted all of the little ways we can add self-care into our daily routine. Let’s talk about the five different categories. 



Physical

First and foremost, let’s talk about how we physically take care of ourselves. The first thing that comes to mind is food and water. The things we choose to put INto our body are extremely important! For instance, making the choice to overeat to a point of discomfort may not be the most “caring” towards our body but eating foods we enjoy and that make us feel good is! This doesn’t mean sweets and treats are off limits! Because if we enjoy the food, there is always room for it. In addition, we all know how important it is that we drink plenty of water. Water is so good for us in so many ways. It is essential for everything in our body to work properly! 


Of course, there is also exercise and healthy movement. Moving our body can help lower our risk of illness, improve sleep quality, as well as mental performance. I find it very important to explore different types of movement to find what is the best for you. Walking is great for the mind and body and I think everyone should engage in this regularly. In addition, there are workouts like strength training, HIIT, yoga, pilates, Barre, crossfit, cardio, etc. Try more than one and see how they make you feel IN your body. Everyone is different!


Moving on, SLEEP IS VITAL for self-care. We all need sleep in order to rest and recharge for the next day to come. We’ve heard that 8 hours is recommended for adults, but everyone is different. Some may function well off of 6 or 7, I prefer a solid 9 :) If your sleep is often interrupted or poor quality, talk with your doctor and maybe look into a sleep study. It is truly amazing how different you might feel after improving your sleep.


Physical self-care is never ending. There are SO many ways we can work on feeling better physically! I encourage listening to your body and trying different resources and professionals that might help. Some suggestions include: physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, stretching, facials, and more. Physical self-care might also include skin care, wearing sunscreen, dermatology, caring for your nails and hair, and more. There is room for all of it!!



Mental

According to AI on Google, mental self-care is “a way to create a healthy mindset and maintain mental health”. “It can include activities that keep your mind sharp as well as things that help you relax and reduce stress.” Because we are overloaded with information on screens, I don’t think we seek out those activities as much as we could. Reading is something that I find to be very important! I have always loved reading non-fiction and self-help books, but just this year, I began reading fiction with my girlfriends and I have truly fallen in love. It gives me that mental break from work and life, yet I am sharpening my mind by reading these stories. It also helps with reducing stress by connecting to a story outside of myself. 


Focusing on mindfulness can be a great form of mental self-care. Mindfulness involves being fully aware of your internal state at the current moment. This could be through guided meditation, prayer, journaling, taking a mindful walk, and more. 


Emotional

Of course the first thing I think of when I think emotional self-care is therapy! Therapy is a great way to prioritize your emotional health by sharing your internal experience with an unbiased person. Working on identifying your emotions and then finding ways to cope in healthy ways is a vital part of therapy. You can also utilize journaling through writing down your thoughts and feelings and processing through them on your own. For some reason, many people are very avoidant towards emotions. Hate to break it to you all, but you cannot totally avoid your emotions. Eventually they will come to the surface and be expressed in unhealthy ways. So start working through them before you get to that point. 


I also recommend doing things that bring you joy. This could include hobbies as well as spending time with friends and family that bring joy and laughter. I also encourage focusing on daily gratitude. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, or anger, but ending (or starting) everyday by identifying what you are grateful for can really help improve your mindset. 



Social

Social self-care involves the practice of building and maintaining relationships while also setting healthy boundaries with others. Relationships do take work so if a relationship is worth it, we should put in the extra energy to nurture them. Connection with others helps soothe our nervous system, but on the other hand, an unhealthy relationship can be harmful towards us. With that being said, ending relationships can be self-care as well. 

I also like to remind my clients that there are all different kinds of relationships and even different levels of friendships. Not every relationship is going to be extremely vulnerable and open, and that is okay!! So focus on what each relationship brings to your life, and if it is positive, then keep putting energy into that!



Spiritual

Spiritual self-care might be intimidating for many, myself included. “Spiritual self-care is a way to connect with a higher power, seek guidance, and express gratitude. It can also help broaden your sense of self in relation to the world around you.” This can be done through religion and faith, nature, music, meditation, or yoga. It can also be done by connecting to certain communities or family and friends. I find that my BarreSTL classes involve a lot of spiritual self-care as there is a lot of yoga and mindfulness practices within each class. I also enjoy taking walks in my neighborhood and connecting to nature and my community. 



A lot of my work is with adults who are trying to find balance in their daily life, which mostly involves their work day. When I suggest increasing their self-care, they typically ask “how?”

The answer is tons of ways! First of all, TAKE BREAKS. Take your lunch break and hit pause on your work. Your brain needs the rest and if you work at a computer, your eyes probably need the rest as well! Take bathroom breaks! Hopefully you’re drinking enough water throughout the day that you are needing to use the restroom regularly anyways. Don’t hurry back to your desk either. Take the time (before and after you use the restroom) to stop and chat with coworkers or walk around a little extra. Maybe you enjoy a snack or fill up your water or coffee. Get some fresh air and some sunlight! Whether you enjoy 5 minutes outside or are able to take a 30 minute walk, either are beneficial. Here’s another good one: say “no” at work! Advocating for yourself and setting boundaries are GREAT examples of self-care. Stop being a “yes man” at work and only take on as much as you can handle. Make sure you enjoy the fun parts of work as well. Maybe it’s the team bonding or parties that are planned. Maybe it’s the first or last few minutes of a meeting where small talk and laughter is had. Whatever it is, don’t skip out just because you have work to do. If you want to enjoy your job, take advantage of these things!


All in all, there is ALWAYS going to be more ways to take better care of yourself. Look at your life and in which areas are you struggling? Set some small goals for yourself and go from there. Enjoy doing more yourself! Because you deserve it!



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