Self care appears easy on the surface, but can be hard to genuinely implement. Yes, it is easy take a bath now and then, but when was the last time you self reflected to make a lifestyle change? Tried a social media cleanse? Felt good about your image? We can all do things that seemingly fall under "self care," but what if we dug deeper?
There are four fundamental elements of self care: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. Each has its own purpose and plays an integral role in keeping you healthy. Bettering yourself and learning to treat yourself right is the most important thing you can do for you. This can be hard; sometimes it means pushing past feelings of self loathing or insecurity in order to recognize that you are worth the effort it takes to obtain a better life. The better care you take care of yourself, the more receptive you become to your future, and the more you try to positively influence it. And remember, while taking care of yourself means putting yourself first, it doesn't mean putting down others on the way.
So, here is how you can identify and implement the four types of care:
Physical self care has to do with taking care of your body in order to optimize your physical wellness. It can be hard to implement this when you're busy or feeling down about yourself, but exercise not only nurtures your physical health, but your emotional health too. Physical care can be cathartic, as it works on getting out negative energy through physical momentum. This means moving your body, eating right, taking time to relax, and getting through an entire beauty routine when needed. Try mediation, yoga, going for a walk, taking a nap, or making small changes in your diet. Making sure you get enough sleep, get some sort of physical activity in, and practice good hygiene to ensure that you're maintaining your body's needs!
Emotional self care is often the most difficult to implement, because it requires that we do some introspection, and make the changes that better us and the people around us EVEN IF WE DON'T WANT TO! It can be so easy to neglect your emotional state, or lay around in denial of what you're actually feeling. Whether it's stress, heartbreak, anger, relationships, insecurity, emotional maturity, empathy, anxiety, depression or issues that go beyond that mentally and somatically, it's important to make sure that you are being honest with yourself and making active efforts to cope and make the changes that will help you find peace of mind. See a therapist, re-connect with whoever is causing problems in your life, be empathetic and look out for others, and realize that not everyone is perfect, but it DOES matter if you are trying your hardest to improve yourself or not. Change doesn't happen over night, and it can be hard, but as long as you are trying in order to better yourself as a person in your heart and your mind, you are going in the right direction to take care of yourself in the long run, and help relieve yourself of emotional stressors.
Social self care pertains to who you interact with and how. What kind of boundaries have you set? What kind of communication do you chose to engage in? Humans are inherently social individuals, but we forget that often times the connections we make in our social lives can also become toxic as much as they are meaningful. It's great to have friends and want to go out, but it's important to evaluate how these interactions make you feel. If you don't really feel like hanging out with a group of friends, responding to your Snapchats, scrolling through Instagram, or pregaming Thirsty Thursday, that's okay too. Taking time alone is a healthy way of socializing too; you're spending time with yourself, which we often forget to do (especially in college). There's no one way to set boundaries; they can pertain to anything or anyone. You've probably heard that communication is key a million times in your lifetime, but it's true. No one can read your mind or play games with you to try and figure you out. If you don't say how you feel, it's not fair to expect others to give you exactly what you're looking for. BUT, as important as communication is, comprehension exceeds it. You also have to be eager to listen to whoever is trying to communicate with you, even if it isn't want you want to hear. Taking care of yourself socially means finding a balance between being heard and hearing others. Do what makes you happy, but be cognizant of what your actions may mean to those around you. Maybe your friend just really misses you, or maybe it's really not a big deal if you skip that party because you aren't feeling it. Read the situation, and think about what's worth it.
Let me get this straight—you can be an atheist and still be spiritual. Spiritual self care can often get lumped into emotional self care because of its association with healing and self reflection. The key difference is that your spiritual self is more focused on your ability to feel at ease as a whole, not just with particular things that are happening in your life. This means doing the things you love, taking time to reflect and grow, and feeling in tune with yourself overall. Spiritual self care looks different for everyone. There's no way to really know what works for you to feel one with yourself. Maybe it's journaling, visiting a sacred place, getting in touch with nature. Being spiritual means tuning in and appreciating the energies that make you feel safe, and yet being open to what the world will bring you. Ultimately, it's about finding peace with yourself. Discovering what it is that helps you achieve this is the path to self improvement.
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