Everyone talks about “Self-Care” being important, but what exactly does that mean?
Self-Care is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.” Self-care is important for folks to manage their stress, build resilience, and balance their personal and work lives. Every person is different, so the methods of self-care your friends and family use or recommend might be different from the self-care that is right for you.
Generally, self-care can be broken down into 5 different categories:
- Physical – Making sure your basic needs are being met. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and addressing your overall health needs, such as taking medications or engaging in exercise.
- Social – Making sure you are investing in your personal relationships. This can feel particularly challenging when our schedules are busy, which reinforces the importance of building this time into your schedule to ensure this type of self-care becomes a priority! Taking time to connect with your friends face to face is a great way to start. Nurture your relationships in a way that is meaningful to you – enjoy a meal, do an activity, schedule a regular time to call and talk, or even join each other while doing mundane tasks or chores.
- Mental – Making sure you provide your mind with stimulation that sharpens your mind and promotes positive, healthy thoughts and perspectives. Doing a puzzle, trying a new hobby or activity, learning about something that interests you, or consuming content that inspires and uplifts you are all things you can do for mental self-care.
- Spiritual – Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a spiritual or religious person to nurture your spirit. According to VeryWell Mind, spiritual self-care can be anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with the universe. For some this might be attending a religious service or praying. While for others this could be meditating, connecting with nature, or practicing gratitude.
- Emotional – Making sure you are addressing your feelings in a safe way. One part of emotional self-care is acknowledging your feelings and another part is processing your feelings. Daily journaling and talking with a close friend or family member are great ways to start practicing emotional self-care. Engaging in leisure activities, doing reflective journaling prompts or attending therapy are just a few ways you can process those feelings.
Self-care is not so rigid that specific self-care acts are deemed for kids or adults. For example, a popular emotional self-care act is coloring. Younger and older people can color to distract themselves, to practice a new skill, to process their emotions in a healthy way, or for many other purposes. When introducing kids to self-care, they need to understand the basics to learn what kind of self-care will benefit them. For kids, a great place to start is physical and mental self-care. Teach them the importance of meeting their basic needs, like a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and sufficient exercise, and help them learn how to identify their feelings so they can try different ways to process those emotions. These building blocks will help them continue to expand their self-care tool belt into adulthood as they introduce mental, social, and spiritual self-care into their routine. The older they get, and the more practice they get, the more they will benefit from practicing self-care.
If you or your child are struggling with finding the right ways to engage in self-care, or if you need more comprehensive mental health support, MiraCare has an experienced team of dedicated professionals that can help bring you and your family to Brighter Tomorrows. Our Outpatient therapy and psychiatric providers hold a wide variety of specializations to custom fit your needs. And MiraCare’s new Inpatient unit and Partial Hospitalization Program provide young people with the skills and knowledge they need to learn self-care and many other helpful mental health skills. To find out more about our services, call us at 708-726-MIRA (6472).
Brit Williams of MiraCare Group
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