Self-care is a big buzzword now, a popular practice among millennials. Self-care means taking care of the unique person you are. Self-care is about self-love and nourishment, “me time,” and doing things for yourself that support your well-being. Self-care puts you in control to take an active role to protect yourself and happiness especially during stressful times.
From the emotional perspective, self-care means taking time out to engage in what you find pleasurable and relaxing. From the mental perspective, you may need to be more observant of your thoughts and take better care of your mental state. There is also a spiritual, personal development aspect to self-care because it requires going deeper within yourself.
Here are big-picture ways to take good care of yourself:
1) “Work” on yourself
One of the biggest ways to practice self-care is to develop and grow your own self-awareness through inner work. A greater connection to the world and your spiritual self comes when we practice self-awareness by getting to know ourselves better and questioning our feelings and thoughts when they bring us down. Why do you feel a certain way? What is the underlying thought or belief? Are there false beliefs you have which are holding you back? Sometimes we can believe things on a cognitive, everyday waking-level but not at the unconscious, cellular level. So if you believe you are worthy of love on a mental level but unconsciously, deep down feel unworthy of love due to old beliefs and conditioning, you may have trouble attracting a healthy, long-term relationship.
When we are overloaded, we default to habitual things and thoughts. Self-awareness begins with what we tell ourselves which is reflected in our outer world. Our default brain can easily fall into negative thoughts characterized by a wandering mind, searching for threats or overly obsessive thoughts. One way to reframe your thoughts is to counter the negative thought by noticing things you feel positive about right way. Find the positive in everything, and you can be closer to experiencing gratitude.
For more on how to reframe your thoughts and challenge your harmful or self-defeating beliefs, see our blog “How to Stop Negative Self-Talk.” Other ways to “work” on yourself are activities that release or rejuvenate us whether that’s having a massage (bodywork), a long walk or work-out, or any recreational activity you enjoy.
2) Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness supports your journey of self-discovery. Based on Buddhist teachings, mindfulness shows us how to take a step back and look at our lives with an attitude of acceptance and compassion.
Mindfulness is to be consciously aware and staying focused on the present moment. To stay mindful is to identify or acknowledge your feelings, thoughts and sensations. This means to be aware of what you’re doing and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you, according to Mindful.org.
Relaxed breathing, also known as calming breath, with slow, deliberate breaths supports mindfulness as does grounding yourself and practicing meditation even if it’s just a few times a week, or several minutes daily. You can also integrate your breathing with grounding. For more on breathing and grounding, see our blog “How to Get Grounded and Centered.”
Mindfulness is also a tool to handle stressful situations. When you are feeling grounded and in the present, you become the uninvolved or objective observer. Essentially you’ve taken a step outside of yourself, allowing you to respond in a healthier way and gain insights into a situation.
3) Nurture your inner child
Our anxious or worried default brains are concerned with survival and firmly linked to our childhood brains. Your inner child is both light and dark and may be associated with acting out in times of stress, for example. The inner child is also linked to your shadow self or things about yourself that you would rather keep hidden or repressed. But the inner child is real and needs nurturing and self-care, too.
Your wounded inner child can rear itself in times of emotional and mental stress. This inner child is concerned that it’s needs haven’t been or won’t be met in the future. One remedy is to come back to the present moment and mindfulness.
On the other hand, your nurtured, joyous, sky-is-the-limit inner child is what causes us to have resilience, persistence and supports your creative brilliance.
When your inner child is feeling neglected or depressed, practice self-care. Do something for yourself. Even scheduling activities in the near future that you can look forward to are proven to be helpful for dealing with depression, according to Alice Boyes, Ph.D. and former clinical psychologist.
For more about the inner child, see our blog “Is Your Inner Child Holding you Back?”
4) Listen to your intuition
Ever run a 5K despite the fact that something told you not to and you got an injury? Sometimes the voices in our head is indeed our intuition directing us to the best path for us. We all have intuition; some of us just follow it more than others. Described as the voice of the soul or the still, small voice within you, intuition is a powerful tool. Your intuition acts like GPS or the best human resources screener around to hone in on the relevant information or guidance you need.
Activities like grounding, meditation, becoming more aware of our breathing, and mindfulness in general all support our intuition. Exercise is also good for raising our awareness and relaxing us, given it encourages the flow of endorphins. Creative thoughts and insights are more likely to pop into our awareness.
The more you can follow and trust your intuition, the more you can tune into what you need for your own self-care. For more on intuition, see our blog, “Intuition: Your Still, Small Voice.”
By following your intuition, you may find you’ll practice your own self-care on a more regular basis whether that’s emotionally, mentally or physically given they are all related.
Resources used in this report:
Live Better: A Book of Spiritual Guidance, Sophie Golding, Summersdale Publishers, 2017.
Self-Care 101: 10 ways to take better care of you, posted May 27, 2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/skinny-revisited/201805/self-care-101
Seven Self-care Suggestions, July 18, 2018, https://youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/seven-selfcare-suggestions/
What is Mindfulness, October 8, 2014, https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/