The Basics of Self-Care

Foster mental, physical, and spiritual well-being

The Basics of Self-Care

With a personalized self-care plan that includes mental, physical, and emotional practices, we can feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle our goals.

After the busy holiday season, we may feel as if we’ve been caring for everyone except ourselves. However, with the help of a personalized self-care practice, we can feel rejuvenated, optimistic, and ready to tackle our goals.

What is self-care?

Self-care is the act of refuelling ourselves and attending to our needs. It’s a simple concept, but for many of us, the thought of doing something exclusively for our own pleasure may leave us with feelings of guilt and shame. In a society that values self-reliance and putting others first, it can be difficult to justify taking the time to nurture ourselves.

If we notice we’re feeling stressed, running low on energy, and lacking balance in some areas of our lives, it may be time to work on developing a regular self-care practice. Although it may seem that finding the time for self-care is an impossible task, the many benefits indicate it might be worth a try.

What are the benefits of self-care?

  • lessened emotional reactivity
  • improved relationship skills
  • increased well-being
  • increased optimism and hope
  • better physical health management
  • improved mood
  • improved quality of life
  • decreased stress levels
  • increased ability to maintain a work-life balance

How will I tune in to my self-care needs?

  • Take a few quiet moments away from distraction to sit quietly and focus on your breathing.
  • Focus on each of the following areas of your life: spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional.
  • Assess how you feel in each area on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Ask yourself which needs most attention and what you can do to nurture this part of yourself. You may find it helpful to write this down.

How will I make self-care a routine?

Daily

  • Tune in to and assess your self-care needs (see previous section).
  • Take five minutes each day to do something that brings you feelings of joy, comfort, or peace. If you have more than five minutes, that’s great—but five minutes is enough. You may need to schedule these five minutes in your day planner.

Weekly

  • Take 15 to 30 minutes one day per week (perhaps on a Sunday) to write down any areas of stress or feelings of imbalance that may have come up over the past week, and write potential self-care solutions for each. For example:

Problem: I am feeling stuck and uninspired. I feel like all I do is go to work and do chores around the house.

Solution: I will go to the library and take out some books on topics I find interesting. I will look into classes in my areas of interest and carve out an hour each week to engage in my hobbies.

Monthly

  • In a journal, brainstorm a list of the self-care activities that help you to feel energized and restored. They may change depending on where you are in your life, what your schedule and budget allows, and what your values and goals are. Creating a new list each month will keep you engaged in your own self-care and attentive to your ever-changing needs.
  • Have a big joyful experience. Perhaps it’s hiking with your family, having a romantic night out with a partner, getting a pedicure, or taking a special yoga class. We all deserve to do something wonderful every so often.

Yearly

  • The new year is a great time to assess whether your current way of living and caring for yourself is working for you. Are you satisfied with your quality of life? Do the things you spend your time and energy on reflect your values? If they do, celebrate your great self-care!
  • If you feel you have some areas to work on, write down what your ideal life would look like—no matter how far-fetched. What elements of this ideal life might you be able to bring into your current situation? It may be taking small daily steps toward a life-altering career change, or just making a few minutes each day to engage in an activity that excites you. How you live each day matters.

Examples of self-care

These suggestions for self-care will inspire you to come up with more ideas.

Mental

  • Discover new authors and topics of interest in the books you read.
  • Do mental puzzles such as crosswords, sudoku, and online brain training games.
  • Look into classes on topics you’re interested in at a local community centre.
  • Pursue hobbies that engage the mind.

Physical

  • Move your body in ways that feel good.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Cuddle with a pet or loved one.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Let your body have ample rest time when sick.

Spiritual

  • Find time to be in nature.
  • Pray.
  • Meditate for a few minutes per day.
  • Journal about your wishes and hopes.
  • Pursue experiences that ignite awe and inspiration.
  • Identify your values and live in ways that honour them.

Emotional

  • Allow yourself to cry.
  • Spend time with people who make you feel loved.
  • Journal about your feelings.
  • Express your emotions through art, music, and dance.
  • See a therapist if you need extra support.

How to make time for self-care

Integrate it into your life

It may be that the only convenient time is on your lunch break, during your commute, or after the kids fall asleep. Find a time and make it a habit.

Ask for help

If you feel you just can’t take time away from your chores, ask someone to help, explaining that you need a few minutes to yourself.

Prioritize it

Taking good care of yourself has countless benefits, and also makes you a better partner, parent, friend, employee, and citizen. Write it down and make it a priority, like you would any other responsibility.

Make it your own

Find activities that truly enhance your life and give you energy. This will make it a lot easier to keep it up.

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