Your Self-care an upgrade
“the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
“the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
– Oxford Dictionary
Focusing on your self-care is not a luxury it is an essential
If you want to show up as the best version of yourself or at the very least you want to maintain psychological wellness then self-care is not optional or a luxury it is an essential requirement. You may have heard this metaphor before that you only have so much capacity (usually, time and energy, but also other things may be true for you), so think of this like a cup that can be filled and emptied. You cannot give from an empty cup. So if you don’t fill the cup up, there is nothing, all is limited) that can be poured out. If you try to continuously pour from your cup, without refilling it, you will run out. Run out (give everything of yourself and more) enough times and you will burn out. It takes a lot longer to come back from burn out than it does to prioritize your self-care.
Why is holistic self-care so important?
The way it was explained to me, when it finally really hit home, was that our wellbeing is reliant on our different human needs being met (see self-care wheel below). So if one of those areas of self-care (or needs) is neglected it is like having a puncture in your tyre, it doesn’t matter where the puncture is, the whole tyre will deflate anyway. That means if we focus all our allocated self-care time to meet, say just physical self-care (as we often do see), then perhaps no matter what we do (within that domain) we still don’t feel like our best selves. Take care of all the areas we are much less likely to crash when we hit a bump in the road.
Domains of self-care – what are the 6 types of self care
- Physical e.g., sleep, exercise, nourishing meals, blood tests, specialist appointments
- Emotional e.g., journalling, emotional awareness and healthy expression, therapy
- Mental e.g., meditation, puzzles, learn a new hobby, getting into your body, podcasts
- Practical e.g., financial, managing stressors, life admin, goal setting
- Social e.g., connecting w/ children, friends and family, setting boundaries
- Spiritual e.g., connecting with nature, going to church, find spiritual mentor, dance
So if we are going to upgrade our self-care, one of the best questions we can ask ourselves is whether there is an area of the self-care wheel / one of the self-care domains, which we have been neglecting or that we can see needs some more attention?
Then what I usually ask myself or clients that I work with, what is one thing that you can do today or this week within this area to refill your cup up just a little bit more than you have been?
Developing an effective self-care routine – some helpful self-care tips
Self-care is not a one size fits all system. Whilst we as human beings all have needs within the various self-care domains, those needs look different for different people. You might notice I didn’t include bubble baths as an example within the self-care domains section above, that was intentional. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to focus on what we think we “should” be doing for self-care, what others do for self-care, without evaluating if it meets our needs. I don’t particularly like bubble baths, so it isn’t a part of my self-care routine (anymore).
So it might take some experimenting to find out what actually works well for you. What worked for me and that I recommend to my clients is that they check in with themselves, before, during and after to reflect on whether something new they are trying has the desired effect and would therefore be a good fit or their regular self-care routine. Remembering that you might need to try something a few times to be sure, in case it is being influenced by other factors in your day, try to be like a scientist testing it out under different conditions.
Overlapping domains for efficiency
Who has time for all this right? I know. We are all so busy in this modern, fast paced society that the idea of finding the time to meet all these different needs can make it seem even more impossible to “do” our self-care. A little life hack, trial out things that overlap across domains. So maybe rather than walking on the treadmill by yourself at the gym (only physical), try out meeting a friend and going for a bush walk together (physical + social & spiritual). Another example would be rather than getting takeaway for dinner (physical), you could try cooking a nourishing meal whilst dancing to music in the kitchen (physical, mental, spiritual). As was said above, experiment for yourself, finding what is best for you.
Maintenance and Crisis
Another things we can do, is explore what we can do in a preventative, maintenance capacity to keep ourselves going day to day, to bolster ourselves up so we are better able to take on life’s stressors vs. are the other things that I can do when I really need them, when I have been triggered in some way, or are experiencing particularly stressful times. I found it useful to pull together an Any Day / Every Day list which includes things that don’t take a lot of time, that I can slot into my day with some ease but contributes to meeting my needs across the domains. Then I also have a When I need it / When I am able to list. This one includes things that might take more time or planning but I know what I can turn to these activities if my cup is feeling very low, or I am working through something tough. You will be better able to write these lists for yourself as you develop your habits around looking after the different self-care domains and experiment with the different ways you can look after your self-care holistically.
I encourage you to try these tips and ideas to give yourself a self-care upgrade soon.
Author: Samantha Sheppard, B Psych (Hons).
Samantha is a registered psychologist with experience working with children and adolescents (and their families), young adults and adults. Samantha empowers others with their mental health using a non-judgemental, compassionate approach, and particularly resonates with a social and emotional wellbeing framework.
To make an appointment with Samantha Sheppard try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.