Self-Care begins when we pause to notice how our bodies, minds and hearts are feeling. It is being able to check in with ourselves and recognize what we need in that moment in time, and also make a plan for what we need moving forward. Taking the time to do an honest assessment without any judgement. It is about being accountable to ourselves, and our well being. Self-Care is extremely individual, and what is Self-Care for you may not be for someone else. It is about building our tool box with the things that will help us work towards our best self, or potential. Self-Care is also about letting go of external validation, or allowing someone else to decide what you need. It is a highly personal practice.
There are so many dimensions of Self-Care. I personally like to break it down into 5 areas in order to self-assess what I am needing; physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual.
Physical Self-Care is taking time to check in with our physical bodies. Do we need movement, stillness, rest, sleep, food, water, or anything else that will nourish our physical bodies? Take some time to learn how to listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs. It’s just learning how to listen. This is an important element of Self-Care, but is not the only thing to consider.
Emotional Self-Care in the simplest form is having the ability to hold compassion for ourselves (and therefore others). It is opening ourselves up to feeling and experiencing whatever emotions are present. It is acknowledging our emotions, without allowing them to control us. We can also give ourself the permission to release the emotions we are holding, as well as recognize our capacity to experience multiple emotions at the same time. So give yourself the opportunity to cry, scream, laugh, dance, vent to someone you trust, write your feelings in a journal, and maybe even burn that piece of paper.
Intellectual Self-Care is checking in with our minds, our mental bodies. It is witnessing the stories we are telling ourselves, without letting our minds take the steering wheel. It is learning to sit back and observe the mind without criticizing ourself. It is allowing thoughts to come, but also allowing thoughts to go. It is working towards recognizing when we are reacting from old belief systems or patterns, and being able to pause and try to respond from a more grounded place within. It is also giving ourselves the opportunity to seek information, learn, and grow.
Social Self-Care is recognizing that we all have an innate need to feel a sense of belonging. It is part of being a human. It is honestly assessing our individual social needs, and allowing this to be fluid. It is recognizing when we need help from those we trust, and not being afraid to reach out. It is showing up authentically, and allowing others to do the same. And allowing ourselves to form community from that authenticity.
Spiritual Self-Care is giving yourself the opportunity to connect with something deeper, whatever that may mean for you. My spirituality is centred in my yoga practice, trusting that we are all connected to something bigger than just ourselves. For you this may be connection with religion, God, true self, Universe, etc.
The long and the short of it is, Self-Care is a practice, sometimes an uncomfortable. It is not just bubble baths, and hiking in the woods (although those may be amazing tools for you), but it is about getting vulnerable and honest with ourselves, so we can become our truest Self!