Did you know, consciously engaging in an enjoyable self-care routine is proven to improve your mood, increase levels of happiness, and minimize symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression!?
What’s interesting about self-care is that it can look very different for every one of us. Activities that may soothe the soul and inspire positive emotions for one person may be stressful and draining for another. For this reason, it’s important to recognize the types of activities or routines we create for ourselves that foster more joy, energy, and long-term benefits to all aspects of our wellbeing.
Throughout this article, we will reveal the purpose of self-care, common misconceptions, and how to personalize your self-care routine to benefit you the most based on the 8 dimensions of wellness. Follow along for all the best self-care tips!
When you think of self-care, many assume it’s about taking a break to relax. Although for some people self-care is as simple as reading a book or enjoying a bubble bath, it can also be more stimulating like going for a hike in the mountains or playing a new riff on the guitar.
Self-care is defined as the process of taking care of oneself through activities that promote health while actively preventing or managing illness. It is not defined by what you are doing, but how these activities are supporting your own needs. For this reason, self-care can come in a variety of forms and is something unique to each of us.
Self-care is a purposeful set of behaviours used to strengthen our endurance and increase our resilience to life around us. In other words, self-care helps cultivate the skills and self-awareness to cope with challenges in our everyday lives.
Here are a few benefits of self-care:
- Improve levels of concentration
- Minimize frustration and anger
- Boosts mood and levels of happiness
- Improves energy (both mentally and physically)
- Reduce or eliminate symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Reduce daily stress
- Increases life satisfaction
If you’re experiencing guilt, shame, or uncertainty about practicing self-care, you’re not alone. Here are the most common misconceptions about self-care and how to overcome them!
When we think of ways to unwind after a busy day, adding extra effort can feel like a tall order. During these low energy times it’s helpful to acknowledge these feelings and be more realistic in ways to comprise a self-care solution that better fits your energy levels.
Research has found that when barriers to self-care outweigh their benefits, the likelihood of healthy behaviours will decrease. In other words, there’s no use going for a run in this state while your barriers to physical exertion far outweigh the benefits of self-care.
If the idea of carving out time for yourself feels exhausting, start small. Remember, the purpose of self-care is to feel like you have more time, energy, and freedom to be productive, not less! With practice, it will feel more like an enjoyable part of your routine rather than an unpleasant chore.
Taking the time to address your own needs can bring about feelings of shame along with questions of whether or not you deserve care and compassion in the first place. If you’re experiencing these thoughts, you may assume self-care is selfish.
In reality, self-care is not equivalent to self-indulgence or being selfish by any stretch. It’s important to reframe your understanding of self-care to help overcome these thoughts. Recognize that self-care is about replenishing your own resources without draining someone else’s.
Finding time in a jam-packed schedule can feel impossible — especially when self-care feels too time consuming. Although everyone is busy, self-care can be prioritized in a way where it becomes a part of your everyday routine.
When time is an issue, self-care can be introduced in small doses. Rather than carving out 3 hours, start with a few minutes of an enjoyable activity. This way your mind and body will recognize that self-care helps you without wasting any time.
Creating a healthier and more fulfilling life starts by addressing the 8 core dimensions of wellness. Since wellness as a whole is such a broad term, it’s better understood as being a conscious, evolving, and multidimensional component of our lives.
To build a personalized self-care routine, it’s important to create harmony across each dimension in a way that works best for you. By doing this, you can refine your self-care routine to offer you the greatest benefits at any given moment.
Self-Care and the 8 Dimensions of Wellness
Emotional wellness describes one’s ability to build satisfying relationships, experience confidence, increase resiliency, and effectively cope with life’s challenges. Emotional wellness can be improved through self-care activities such as journaling, reading, listening to music, talking to someone, taking a walk, cuddling, or attending therapy.
Environmental wellness relates to the surroundings you occupy — both naturally and socially. When your environment is affecting how you feel, you can manage your feelings by taking a walk outside, picking up litter, recycling, cleaning your home, or gardening.
Financial wellness describes the feeling of satisfaction or gratitude about your own financial situation. When finances are creating stress, it’s beneficial to practice self-care that will improve this dimension, such as investing money, saving money, cutting back on purchases, or requesting a raise at work.
Intellectual wellness helps you cultivate mental growth through activities that use both knowledge and skill. Reading, listening to podcasts or audiobooks, watching a documentary, or working on a puzzle can all help improve your intellectual wellness.
Occupational wellness relates to your sense of satisfaction with your job. If you’re looking to improve this dimension of wellness, it can help to take on tasks you enjoy, train for a promotion, learn a new trade, or apply for a dream job.
Physical wellness describes your ability to perform life’s daily activities. Self-care that looks after your physical wellness includes practicing yoga, lifting weights, going for a run, eating healthy, reducing alcohol, or getting enough sleep.
Social wellness relates to having a sense of connectedness and belonging with others. If you lack social wellness your self-care routine can include meeting a friend for coffee, volunteering for a cause, or Facetiming a long-distance partner.
Spiritual wellness describes the values and beliefs that help you discover your true purpose in life. Improving your spiritual wellness can be done through activities such as meditation, mindful reflection, journaling, praying, or yoga.
No matter how you look after yourself, self-care forces us to attend to our own needs in a unique way that can benefit us in both the short and long term. By offering a positive escape to our complicated lives, self-care helps us shift our focus inwards to energize, motivate, and inspire our minds and bodies.
Remember to check in with your needs on a daily basis to find out which dimension of wellness needs improving. From here your self-care routine can be personalized based on how you’re feeling in that moment.
For more information or guidance on self-care, book a free consultation with one of our many experienced clinicians. At On Your Mind Counselling we’re committed to helping you become the healthiest, happiest version of yourself.
Written By Tori Mudie BA, MA, RP, CCC