As we transition from adolescence to adulthood, we become more familiar with the stress and its implications. Eventually, we embrace the concept of investing in self-development through the process of self-care.

What is Self-Care?

As you continue to figure yourself out, you might find yourself lost in the many life rules of how you need to treat yourself. You could start by knowing the evolving definition of self-care throughout time.

Self-care means nurturing oneself in the face of executing activities of daily living towards maintaining health—may it be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. These four are considered as the different categories covering self-care.

Self-care activities could come in the form of basic hygiene, proper diet, sleep, exercise, meditation, counselling, therapy, and even as simple as relaxation. Since self-care promotes health awareness, it also includes the practice of attending to your medical concerns. To cope with illness, which is not limited to physical healthcare, Tending to mental health care through consultation with a mental health professional or treatment is beneficial.

Focusing on health awareness practices is vital since failure to do so might bring about unwanted disease, illness and disability, or even hospitalization. It’s important to take care of your health with the help and guidance of medical professionals once deemed necessary.

Types of Self-Care

It could be anything that floats your boat- anything that puts a smile on your face, Anything that makes you feel cared for, even if it’s you caring for yourself. There are a few different categories of self-care:

  • Emotional self-care, such as self-talk, weekly bubble baths, saying “no” to things that cause unnecessary stress, giving yourself permission to take a pause, or setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend.
  • Physical self-care, such as prioritizing sleep, adopting an exercise routine you can stick with, and choosing healthy and nourishing foods over highly processed ones.
  • Spiritual self-care, such as attending a religious service, spending time in nature, meditating, incorporating regular acts of kindness into your day, or keeping a gratitude journal

Additionally, self-care can be put into two further categories: temporary and enduring.

An example of temporary self-care is going to dinner with a friend. You’ll benefit from the social connection, but it won’t last for very long after you part ways. Enduring self-care, on the other hand, has more permanent effects for example of this is practising mindfulness regularly, because it leads to brain changes. According to a study (one of many on this topic) published in Psychiatry Research, eight weeks of mindfulness training led to changes in grey matter concentrations in the brain areas involved with learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective-taking.

Difference Between Self-Care and Self-Medication

An important aspect of self-care is knowing when to help ourselves and when to ask for help from others. Self-medication has been a part of the WHO‘s definition of self-care but has limitations due to associated risks and dangers without the support and guidance of trained professionals.

Although self-medication seems convenient, we must think of lasting benefits versus consequences and keep in mind that if we are going to medically treat ourselves, it’s best to consult the experts. Again, responsibility is the foundation of self-care and individuals should be rational and responsible in consuming prescription medicines. Regular consultation with health professionals is essential to promote health and prevent disease. When facing illness and disability, one need not deal with it alone. To avoid complications and further mental stress, do not hesitate to seek aid from health professionals and allied health services.

Responsibility of Self-Care

Self-care is particularly initiated by individuals to promote health for themselves. However, the responsibility of self-care needs to come from the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, and communities for the promotion and maintenance of health, and prevention of disease. It is the duty of communities to be health advocates by pursuing public healthcare and utilizing the abilities of individuals and families to contribute to healthcare. Self-care practices must be advocated in a way wherein everyone is working towards holistic health- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. It is not a singular action, but rather a cumulative social effort in partaking in various activities to maintain health.

Self-Care Practices

Self-care comes in the ways of an individual drawn to achieve optimal wellness by promoting balance in different aspects of life. If you are thinking of activities necessary to promote self-care, you might want to read on and explore the following practices and initiatives suggested below:

1. Maintain good relationships with others

It has often been said that no man is an island. Achieving self-care involves establishing healthy relationships with people. Meaningful relationships boost emotional wellbeing not only for yourself but for others as well. Research shows that social networks, specifically close relationships, help individuals to thrive. Additional findings indicate that while we are quick to adapt to situational changes, we derive positive feelings from stable relationships over our lifetime. Investing in others is, in a way, investing in yourself.

2. Maintain a good relationship with yourself

A relationship with yourself is just as important as your relationship with others. You can invest in beneficial habits in order to replenish your internal power which calls upon the virtue of constant self-evaluation and self-development. You might do this by asking yourself simple yet vital questions like “Am I really happy?” or “What do I like?”. More useful emotional assessors for your mental health are “Who am I doing this for?” and “How could I feel better. Try to not deny yourself the satisfaction of self-love. Sometimes it is the simplest form of self-care you can get.

3. Acknowledge your own feelings

The process of self-evaluation involves not only assessing your emotions but also recognizing them as your own. Acknowledging your feelings and addressing them properly allows for growth and maturity. Being vulnerable is not a disability. It’s perfectly normal and healthy to feel negative and strong emotions like sadness or anger.

4. Acknowledge your support system

We all need a support system. These people are vital, especially during tough times. Studies show that spending time with positive and loving people diminishes stress and improves overall feelings. A network of support systems may come in the form of family members, close friends, or members of a support group.

5. Your mindset is your power

Quoting Rene Descartes, “I think, therefore I am”, credits your mindset its influence in approaching certain situations. Maintaining a rationally positive perspective motivates you to overcome obstacles in life, allows you to treasure pleasant memories, and learn from the bad ones. A positive mindset is a great asset and one of the most effective self-care practices.

6. Go for the healthier options

Choosing healthier options means valuing long term nutrition rather than short term pleasure. It can be choosing greens over fast food, activity over a sedentary lifestyle, or a healthy relationship over a toxic one. It is being mindful of what you do to your body the same way you evaluate the thoughts you let slip into your mind. Healthy options are those that benefit the body, mind, and soul in the long run. Self-care helps you maintain health.

7. Treat your body as your temple

Our body is the temple of our soul therefore it is important to treat it with proper care through regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate rest and sleep, and enjoying extracurricular activities. Regular exercise stimulates your body thereby giving you more energy. A balanced diet provides necessary nutrients. Sleep freshens the mind and renews body cells. Recreational activities allow room for relaxation. learning. All of these contribute to a holistic approach to self-care.

8. Know when to say “No”

Knowing when to say “no” is part of setting boundaries. It’s unhealthy to say yes to everything as we humans have our own limitations. You can always say no to someone especially if it means saying yes to yourself. Always remember that your mental health is a priority and that setting limitations and adhering to them promotes self- care.

9. Importance of Self-Care

Self-care is a worthy investment. You don’t only serve yourself but also the community you belong to. You cannot give what you do not have but once you take care of yourself, you are giving the best version of yourself to the people around you. Self-care is related to health care; It can help you cope with illness.

10. Too Much Self-Care

Everything has a limitation. It is our responsibility to weigh our priorities in life and while self- care comes first, we must be able to differentiate it from self-indulgence. Unlike other claims, self- care is not being selfish. For this to be true, we must always take into consideration that self-care need not be at the expense of our physical or mental wellbeing. Long term life gems always outweigh short term pleasures. Ultimately, self-care is not only about your present, but also your future.

11. Self-Care is for Everyone

Though self-care activities differ, it is for everyone. Investing in oneself may yield positive results, which in turn, can impact others. Pursue the best version of yourself through self-love and self-care.

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