Written by Kristin Kallas, ALMFT, Counseling Works
Self-care is prioritizing the time to do things that help you live well and improve the quality of your mental and physical health. Self-care strengthens our ability to manage stress, lowers risks of illness, and increases overall energy. We live in this fast-paced tech-savvy-centric society that is taking a significant toll on our mental well-being. Modern society has placed an expectation on us to move faster and increase our ability to multitask, and in turn we think “There must be something wrong with me if I turn on silent mode, engage in my present experience, feel joy, and choose to self-love”.
Sustaining a healthier mind and body is a necessity, not a luxury, in order to experience a thriving and balanced life in today’s world. WHO (Self-Care Interventions for Health, 2022) states that a self-care routine is an essential ingredient for living happily. There are four dimensions of self-care to enable fostering resilience and living longer. The dimensions are emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual. They are the building blocks for the prevention of distress, burnout, and impairment. It is not something that is “extra” or “nice to do”!
Taking time for meaningful activities for yourself is not selfish; it is self-love!
According to the Mayo Clinic Guide to Self-Care (Kermott & Millman, 2021), we must turn off our notifications. Blasphemy! Turn off my notifications; preposterous! Wait for it… having our notifications on 24/7 hijacks our attention and instantaneously injects anxiety into our day. Suppose we unplug a couple of hours a day; This simple act increases our natural ability to feel more physically present. Being present deepens our senses allowing us to experience genuine human interactions and connect with nature, improving our overall energy and pleasure of being. WHO recognizes that self-care involves empowerment, self-reliance, autonomy, and self-efficacy. Ways to start your self-care include checking in with yourself, turning inward, and acknowledging your negative thoughts, emotional needs, and feelings of self-loathing or doubt. Give yourself complete permission, explore yourself, and do YOU!
A great way to check in with yourself is to keep a journal, or note on your phone. Some ways to explore growing your self-care routine are using discovery questions such as:
- Where do I feel deprived?
- What do I need more of right now? Or less of right now?
- For what am I yearning?
- What is causing me to feel resentful right now?
- What am I starving for?
- What am I doing to experience pleasure in my everyday life?
Identifying your love language is an effective way to begin building individualized self-care behaviors, and is one of many interventions I would implement with a client in session. Exploring our own love languages is something we can all start to do at home. Here is a helpful article to learn more about the different love languages: https://5lovelanguages.com/
For example, if your Love Language is physical touch, you can cultivate a rejuvenating skincare routine, do yoga stretches and pleasurable body movements, chop up fruits and veggies, or experience varying food textures and flavor-experiences. If quality time is your Love Language, you can get out into nature, go to a café, or schedule a date night for yourself. If acts of service fill you up, then try decluttering your favorite space, cooking yourself a nourishing meal, or volunteering. Buying yourself flowers, starting a DIY project, and signing up for a new class are fantastic ways to work in the Love Language of receiving gifts. One of my personal favorites is creating self-care through words of affirmation by ending the day with a gratitude journal, writing your own self-love mantra, leaving yourself sticky notes of support around the house, or using skin-safe paints on your body to write the things you love about yourself on you, and then taking a selfie. These are helpful tips and tricks to build confidence, resilience, and autonomy. Self-care can be a powerful tool.
Sometimes a self-care routine can only do so much. Then it’s time to reach out to a Counseling Works professional. Reach out for help when:
- Self-care doesn’t adequately address the problem(s) you’re experiencing
- The issue impacts your ability to function in daily life
- You share thoughts of self-harm or suicide
It’s okay if you don’t have much practice with mental self-care. Your therapist can teach you self-nurturing techniques and help you put a self-care plan in place. Self-care can help improve physical, emotional, and mental well-being, but it doesn’t replace professional help. Call Counseling Works today to get started!