Self care is a topic that comes up a lot when I am speaking to people. As a health and life coach this is one of the most important practices I can share with people I work with.
The first question I get is, ‘what do you mean by self care?’. Self care is anything you need to do to take care of yourself. It could be something as basic as making sure you brush your teeth daily, wear clean clothes, or make sure you are getting plenty of water everyday. Self care also means a multitude of other things such as making sure you see your doctor regularly, pay your bills on time, and/or make time for friends and loved ones. So basically it is simply taking care of yourself, making sure all of your needs are met, and doing what you need and can do for yourself in all seven areas of wellness (Emotional, Physical, Intellectual, Occupational, Environmental, Social, and Spiritual).
Emotional Wellness – Emotional wellness is so much more than coping with stress even though that may be a piece. It also encompasses understanding your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings whether those be positive or negative. Being able to be aware and accept how you feel, rather than denying and stuffing. Aiding yourself into having an optimistic perspective and enjoying life despite the occasional setbacks, frustrations, and disappointments that may come up.
Physical Wellness – Physical wellness is all about maintaining a healthy quality of life that aids us in doing our daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress. Also understanding that the behaviors have significant impact on our wellness. Adopting healthful habits (routine check ups, a balanced diet, and exercise), while moving away from destructive habits (watching to much TV, using tobacco products, or drugs), will lead to optimum wellness.
Social Wellness – Social wellness is the ability to relate and connect with other people. Our ability to establish and maintain healthy positive relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.
Spiritual Wellness – Spiritual wellness is all about establishing peace and harmony in our lives. The ability to balance our values with our actions and finding the spiritual path that aligns with your morals and values. We are all in this together. (This does not mean subscribing to a religion in anyway)
Occupational Wellness – Occupational wellness is all about working a job doing what gives you personal fulfillment while still maintaining balance in life. Making your contribution to society a positive one, not just a pay check.
Intellectual Wellness – Intellectual wellness is the ability to open our mind to new ideas an experiences that can be applied to personal decisions, community improvement, and/or group interaction. Desire to learn new skills, concepts, and seek out life challenges in pursuit of lifelong learning.
Environmental Wellness – Environmental wellness is about accepting the responsibility that the quality of air, the water, and the land that surrounds us. Remembering to think about the impact we impose on environment whether it be our homes, our communities, or the planet.
As you can see most everything we do falls into one of these categories, so chances are you have been doing a lot of self care for a very long time without realizing it. However I am also sure, unless you are superman or wonder woman, that there are still some areas that need some more work or practice. I am in the same boat. I am constantly working on refining different areas of self care. It is all about balance.
The second big question I get is ‘why is self care important?’, my answer back is ‘who else is going to take care of you if you don’t?’. It is such a big part of our self esteem and self worth to be kind to ourselves and take care of our needs just because there is no person that will come up behind us and take care of all of our needs. In this we are all we have. If we do not take care of ourselves we cannot function at our highest potential, we cannot live in balance, and we cannot be the friend, coworker, family member, neighbor, or partner we desire to be.
Every single aspect of life gets better the more balanced is practiced. It could be simple things like taking time out to read a book (Intellectual), having a friend over for a homemade meal (Social and Physical), or cleaning up trash around your neighborhood (Environmental, Physical, and even Social if you get a neighbor or friend involved). Maybe bigger steps are wanting be taken and trying a church of interest (Social, Spiritual, Emotional, and Intellectual), pursuing a new job that is meaningful (Occupational and Intellectual), or starting a community garden project (Social, Environmental, Physical, and Intellectual).
Getting in touch with your inner self and deciding what you choose to spend your time doing, what you feel called to do is the fun part! If you have a dream or passion it is time to find a way to incorporate it into your life in anyway you can. Again it is all about balance and remembering that there is a time and a place for every area of wellness. Sometimes one area may need more attention than others, this isn’t about being perfect. It is about doing what is right for yourself; body, mind, and soul, to the very best of your ability.
It is so very true that if you don’t do it for you, who will?