What Are The 8 Components Of Self Care?
In today’s world, taking time for ourselves can be difficult. From working, to taking care of families, or getting the basic necessities, our lives are filled with 24/7 commitments. You may ask yourself how can we take time to be mindful of our health (not just mental) and fulfil other areas of self-care? The answer, of course, is practising and being mindful of the eight components of self-care. All of which keeps us rejuvenated and healthy.
1. Physical Self Care
Physical self care involves taking care of the body. The subject areas this can encompass include sleep, diet, and physical exercise. A healthy example of taking care of ourselves physically can be as simple as eating proper meals that fit our dietary needs. In our article Getting Healthy, we go into detail about what makes a good diet. A not so healthy example can be pulling an all nighter before work, thus losing out on crucial hours of sleep we need to function.
If you’re feeling fatigued, tired easily, or find yourself getting sick more often than usual, it could be a sign that this area in life needs to be pampered.
How Do I Nourish It?
There are many ways to nourish physical self care. Here are some key examples.
Allowing the body to rest after extended periods of exercise or physical strain.
Just like any exercise in life, it’s always best to follow a workout with a period of rest. If you’ve spent an entire shift on your feet, it’s worth making time to have a hot bath, and allow your muscles to relax. This is particularly true if you’ve had a lot of shifts in a row.
Getting outside and into nature with a jog or walk.
Reconnecting with nature isn’t just a good way of providing yourself with a mindfulness opportunity. If you find yourself sitting at your desk most of the day, enjoying a gentle jog or walk through the woods can make a world of difference. When we raise our pulse, we pump blood through our body at a faster rate. This not only gives us the opportunity to shift gears mentally, but to also let those all-important happy chemicals work their magic.
Just remember, the heart is a muscle that will need to build up strength slowly. As such, take things slow rather than jump at the deep end. That way, you’ll feel more confident in your strides rather than struggling to accomplish unrealistic expectations.
Setting up a proper sleeping schedule. This can be done on a mobile device, on a clock, or worked out on paper.
Sleep is an important component of physical self care that most of us take for granted. If you find yourself getting little to no rest, have insomnia, or struggle to relax and get into bed, using a tool to help coax the body into sleep can be useful. By creating a sleep schedule we train the body to have a system of checks and balances. Overtime, this helps the body prepare to wind down and be ready for rest.
Brushing your teeth three times a day and taking care of general grooming.
Grooming ourselves can sometimes take up a lot of time, but by doing simple procedures we can be our best selves physically. Brushing three times a day keeps our teeth safe against bacteria and other unwanted germs. Showering and bathing at least every other day will keep unwanted grime and other potential hazards off our bodies, thus keeping our internal systems safe from infections and sickness.
Grooming can also overlap with our emotional self care. When we groom ourselves, we see the best version of ourselves physically which can help motivate us to take care of our bodies.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
You may get tired of hearing it, but drinking water is vital to keeping the body healthy. If you feel fatigued easily, and have a constant dry throat, you’re more than likely experiencing dehydration. Over time, dehydration can put the body under stress and cause us to lose vital nutrients, thus not having the energy to carry on. Drinking several glasses of water a day can keep our bodies nourished and prevent our physical energy from burning out.
2. Psychological Self Care
Psychological self-care involves taking care of the mind. This can encompass the need to be stimulated mentally so we aren’t bored with routine, creative processes, and the need to learn something new. An unhealthy example can be neglecting to stay off social media thus not giving the mind time to recuperate after a fast-paced week. A healthy example of taking care of our psychological needs, such as wanting to learn something new, can include watching a YouTube video on how to build a computer, or bake something.
If you’re feeling unchallenged creatively, overstimulated or understimulated, these could be tell-tale signs that psychological self care is needed.
How Do I Nourish It?
There are easy ways to nourish and maintain psychological self care. Here are some key examples.
Picking up a new book from your favorite bookstore.
Reading is fundamental to mental stimulation. If you are bored, picking up a book is a sure way to ease that problem. Having a trip to your favorite bookstore to find a new story, or search for something that interests you can help the mind keep itself refreshed. By reading we give our minds time to digest new information, and expand our critical thinking.
Researching a hobby or something that is of interest.
Hobbies are arguably what we stay alive for, things that we are passionate about. If you’re having trouble finding a hobby or want to do something different, going onto websites such as Pinterest can help narrow down ideas. Researching a new hobby can help our minds develop more neural networks in the brain, making it easier for us to soak in new information.
Developing a new skill that’ll help with work.
We are not only social, but learning creatures. As such, when we learn something new, it’s not only to our benefit but to others as well. When you take the time to learn something brand new such as a software program, it can open up connections not only to potential hobbies and skills, but to other people whom you might network with. That software skill you learned could help you land a career in programming, or give you enough education to teach others. Having a skill that helps with work not only stimulates the mind, but also fulfills emotional and social needs.
Practicing meditation or mindfulness.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed, or have too much information coming at you at once. Overstimulation can be just as damaging as not having enough. An example can be your boss giving you new tasks on top of a huge project you’re already in the middle of doing. Meditation can be easy such as taking 10 minutes to close your eyes and clear your thoughts, while being mindful can include being aware of how your workspace affects your productivity.
Mindfulness and meditation can help ease the mind back into a neutral state, or allow clarity to situations. By practicing either of these, it can help you compartmentalize what needs to be done and which tasks to tackle first.
Sign up for an in person or online class on a subject that you haven’t tried before.
Sometimes we need our psychological needs taken care of by having people around us. Some of us learn or are stimulated better when we have other like minded folks on the same playing field. For example, taking a figure drawing class with people who have never done art before like yourself. Trying something new can be scary, and having the extra support in the form of classmates can help us take in information with ease. Signing up for a class we haven’t tried before also takes care of many other needs we might have such as social, emotional, and psychological.
3. Emotional Self Care
Emotional self care involves taking care of our feelings, or ensuring that our emotional intelligence is being well-stimulated. This can include managing stress, increasing empathy towards others, and managing how we interact in social settings. A healthy example of emotional self care could be saying no to someone when we acknowledge there is too much on our plate mentally. A rather unhealthy example is not being compassionate to ourselves especially if we are going through rough times.
If you’re feeling sadness, anxious, or withdrawn, these could be signs that emotional self care is strongly needed.
How Do I Nourish It?
There are great ways to nourish and grow emotional self care. Here are some key examples.
Taking 30 minutes out of the day to have a “Worry Period”.
We all worry at various degrees, such is the nature of being human. A way to help ease those anxieties, is to schedule a “worry period”. You can do this by taking 30 minutes out of the day to sit in worry, be it paying a bill on time, visiting family, or taking care of tasks. Once the time is up, carry on with the rest of your day. By scheduling a time to worry, we give our fears time to be taken care of and then free up the rest of our time with activities that make us feel good.
Being aware of our emotional boundaries.
We all at one point have put others before ourselves, especially if we are compassionate people. Over time this can turn toxic, such as sacrificing your needs to please a loved one, or blaming others for your own problems. An emotional boundary can be not talking about politics with certain friends or family members, knowing that it’ll cause tension. Another can be not taking responsibility for how someone is hurting after they have vented to you. Having emotional boundaries such as these can keep our empathy intact, and our loved ones respectfully distanced.
Dressing up in attire that makes you feel good.
Everyone has a favorite article of clothing, something that stands out and gives life to their identity. Go through your closet and choose a clothing item that you associate with happiness. By doing this, you can dress with more confidence and learn what works and what doesn’t with the mood you want to represent. Dressing up and looking our best has the power to influence others as well as ourselves.
Journaling. In particular, writing things throughout the day that made you happy.
Journaling as well as crafting is a great mental stimulus for emotions. There are so many routes to journaling that there is no right or wrong way to make one. You can create a mood tracker, keeping tabs on your emotions throughout the month. You can also list and prioritize concerns, and triggers. Journaling provides the opportunity to practice self-gratitude and helps us be aware of our emotional status. The key to journaling is to have fun, and be creative so go at your own pace.
Join a peer support group, or contact a Peer Support Specialist to help with emotional goals and needs.
There are times where we need a helping hand. Or, perhaps, a third-party perspective to allow us to see where we can improve. Finding a peer support group, or getting help from a PSS (Peer Support Specialist) can be helpful. A PSS is trained to respond to emotional needs, and guide people to much-needed resources that they may be lacking. Having another point of view can help you see your emotional goals and how to go about accomplishing them easier.
More information on PSS and peer support groups can be found on website mentalhealth.org.uk if you’d like to educate yourself further.
4. Social Self Care
Social self care involves taking care of our relationships with other people, and the community at large we may be part of. An unhealthy example of social self care is overextending ourselves to others when we need rest, and time away from people. A healthy example of social self care could be scheduling a day out of the week to go out with a friend and do an activity together.
If you’re retreating from positive relationships, don’t have a supportive network, or feel isolated, it may be time to reach out and practice social self care.
How Do I Nourish It?
There are simple ways to improve social self care. Here are some key examples:
Asking for help when you need it.
Asking for help is never easy, but it can greatly influence your relationships with other people. Getting a second opinion from a friend, or confiding in a loved one about a problem can greatly reduce our stress and also allow us to feel connected. It can help build trust and reassure friends and family that we too are there for them. Our need to be social with others can be fulfilled when we know we have people in our corner.
Cuddling with a pet companion.
Sometimes it’s not comfortable going to a person for social needs or comfort. Having a pet, be it a cat, dog, reptile etc. can help fulfill the role just as well. I myself like to talk about my day with my bearded dragon Bowie, and enjoy how he sits back and listens.
Taking care of a pet can help us not feel lonely, satisfy our needs to be interactive, and help regulate our emotions. A pet may not be human, but they are just as important as having a family member, or friend for social stimulation.
Keeping commitments to friends and family.
We live in a 24/7 world, and it can be easy to let quality time slip through the cracks. Keeping commitments to our family and friends is important to healthy relationships. Scheduling time to be there for a parent on their birthday, or see a friend after work are good ways of keeping tabs on relationships and fulfilling your social needs. Communication is key. And be sure to talk thoroughly with loved ones about what commitments you can make and what is not within your power.
Hosting a game night (online or not) with friends or family.
A great way to forge bonds with friends and family is to host a game night. Taking time to play with others is a great way to be social, not to mention can be a potential ice breaker if meeting new people for the first time. You aren’t limited to in-person gaming with board games too. Playing online games is easy in this day and age, perhaps suggest a new title for your friends to engage with.
Prioritize relationships that you want to invest in.
With the limited time we have, we can’t invest in every person we come across. Taking time to prioritize what relationships are important can help us mitigate the stress of being social. Writing down everyone important in your life, and brainstorming ways to be supportive can help you figure out how much you can commit to being social. Remember, when we actively choose to surround ourselves with people that uplift and inspire us to be our best selves, we can fulfil not just our social needs, but those of our loved ones.
5. Professional Self Care
Professional self-care involves taking care of our purposes in work-related environments, along with sharing our strengths. A healthy example can include attending classes for professional development so interacting with work clients will be easier. A negative example of professional self-care could be neglecting to feed yourself at work due to a time constraint on a project.
If you’re feeling burnt out, underappreciated, or unequipped, it might be a sign that professional self care is needed.
How Do I Nourish It?
There are excellent ways to practice professional self care. Here are some key examples:
Use vacation and sick days without feeling guilty.
You’ve been here before: working around the clock, tackling many projects, and are starting to feel the brunt end of working the grind. You may have gotten sick quite often, and don’t feel up to par with work requirements due to your health being low. Taking a break from the work environment is the best course of action when dealing with burnout from a job. Your professional self-care, and emotional needs will greatly thank you for the rest and relaxation.
If you are someone that struggles with guilt for taking time off for sick days or vacation, create a list of accomplishments you’ve done at work and use them to reaffirm your decision to take time for yourself.
Form supportive relationships with co-workers and the boss.
Our professional self-care is greatly influenced by the people we are surrounded with at work. Forming positive relationships with our boss and co-workers is fundamental to surviving in our work environments. Going to regular meetings with the boss doesn’t mean you’re ‘sucking up’. Indeed, having lunch with co-workers, and taking breaks with one another can help strengthen not only social bonds, but give your professional life a boost. Especially in regards to networking.
Negotiate time off, or what will best work for your schedule.
Advocating for ourselves can be scary, or downright terrifying, but it’s vitally important in the workplace. If you don’t speak up and negotiate time off, it could allow your employer or co-workers to take advantage of your time. Remember, only you know your limitations. Speak up to your boss and co-workers about what will work best for you. Don’t be afraid to compromise, but keep self-advocating your priorities.
Having honest communication with employees at the workplace.
In today’s work environments, communication is a key component to keeping our professional self-care in check. If we lack communication with our boss and co-workers or vice versa, it can lead to issues in the workplace. Examples of these include projects being delayed, an upset boss, and a lack of new opportunities. Practice being open with your co-workers and boss by being mindful of their time, sticking to the facts of projects, or addressing concerns about something work-related. The more open you are, the more reliable you will be.
Arrive at work and leave on time everyday. Don’t be afraid to say no to extra hours and such if not needed.
Going above and beyond at work can be a blessing. Nonetheless, there are chances for people to take advantage of the good work we put into a project or task. Setting up personal boundaries when it comes to work is important, such as telling a boss no to extra hours or saying no to a co-worker who wants you to cover a shift.
Sometimes, it may be tempting to get extra pay, or time on the work floor. However, taking on too much can affect your professional life and potentially make you a workaholic. Try to prioritize rest and recoup so your professional self-care can remain intact, and your life outside of work can be balanced.
6. Environmental Self Care
Environmental self care involves taking care of the space in which we reside. An unhealthy example could be letting dishes pile up in the kitchen, thus leaving the family exposed to harmful bacteria. A positive example of environmental self care could be downsizing items that are no longer serving the household.
If you’re feeling more at home at work, feel constrained, or feel there’s a strong lack of organization, these are clear signs environmental self care is needed.
How Do I Nourish It?
There are simple solutions to solving environmental self care. Here are some key examples.
Giving all items a “home” where they go after each use.
A great way to stay organized at home is to give all items a permanent “home”. You can easily do this by labelling shelves, putting items into drawers, or any form of containment that will help you keep track of things being used or not. Practising the KonMari Method of organisation may be beneficial to you and your household. This method focuses on organizing items that spark joy, and getting rid of items that are no longer serving our needs.
Having clean clothes, bedding, and furniture.
Clean clothes, bedding, and furniture are important to environmental self-care. A good way of making sure these items are cleaned is by having a visual, such as a calendar to designate what days of the week or month they need to be taken care of. You can also do this on your phone, or set up an alarm system for when clothes, bedding, and furniture need to be maintained. When we see our personal space and articles of clothing clean and orderly, it helps us maintain order in our environments.
Taking time out of the week to sweep, mop, or scrub messes.
Work and obligations to others can prevent us from doing general household upkeep. To keep track of messes and general cleaning, try creating a weekly cleaning schedule. This can be done on your phone, or if you want to get creative, put it on a white board somewhere in your living space where you can be reminded. By having a strong visual with tasks, it can make taking care of messes easier.
In our article, The Best Kitchen Cleaning Hacks, we have examples of how to tackle grime and other messy incidences in the household.
Scheduling a day out of the month to redo setups in the home.
Sometimes we only get a certain time out of the month to take care of our home and environmental needs. Try scheduling 1 day at least out of the month to redo setups around the household. An example could be rearranging the furniture, or moving your bed to a different location in your room. Making our spaces feel new again can significantly impact our mood and assist our environmental self care.
Create a space in the household where you can retreat to and have time for yourself, free from distractions and others.
We’ve all had moments of wanting to get away in our own home. Going to our bedroom to have space is fine, but it can take away relaxation. And even affect our sleep if we associate the bedroom with a place to have a time out. I personally have turned the spare closet in my apartment into a safe space, where I can unwind and read away from my roommate while he’s gaming. By creating our own retreat within the household, we can protect our environmental self-care.
7. Spiritual Self Care
Spiritual self care involves taking care of our systems of beliefs and values. A healthy example can include reflecting how our day went via journaling. A negative example of spiritual self care could be forcing our beliefs and systems onto others without consent.
If you’re feeling a lack of purpose, strongly feel detached from yourself, or don’t feel your beliefs or values align with others, it may be time to reflect on spiritual self care.
How Do I Nourish It?
There are solutions to helping spiritual self care. Here are some key examples.
Going to a place of worship.
It’s as simple as it sounds. Attend a church or gathering of people that share the same beliefs as you. When we come together as one, we are capable of accomplishing great things. Especially when pondering the great mysteries of life. If you need more spiritual enlightenment, being surrounded by others can boost your spiritual morale. As well as helping with self-care.
Taking time to reconnect with nature.
Unlike physical self-care, when I say to reconnect with nature, I mean embracing it in full. Go camping and take in the local flora and fauna, explore what makes the little things outside pop out, draw or paint pictures of the landscapes you see etc. There is no right or wrong way to do it. When we connect with nature, we connect with our primal roots and for many that can be tied with spirituality. Another way to reconnect with nature and spirituality is to go stargazing.
Communicate with people who have different beliefs and values.
Talking with people who have different values than us can be challenging, and even scary. Nonetheless, if we want to grow spiritually and seek peace in our lives, it’s important to have these conversations with others. I recall when I first encountered a college peer who was Muslim, I was wary due to the media coverage surrounding 9/11. However, when she and I began talking and sharing our spiritual beliefs, it turned into quite a learning experience for both of us.
It’s important to take a leap of faith not just with our beliefs, but with the values and morals of others. Being open to communication about spirituality can help us figure out if our path is truly serving us or not.
Challenge and self reflect on your own systems of beliefs.
We are not fully practising spiritual self-care unless we can dissect and look at our own beliefs objectively. The best way to find out what is working and what’s not in our spiritual values, is to put them into practice. Asking ourselves questions, and seeing if there is action behind our words are great ways to see if we need to take a step back and reflect.
Educate yourself on different spiritual and belief systems by going to the library, or looking into books dedicated to spiritual practices.
When we don’t have access to a church, or other individuals, the best place to practice spiritual self-care is by researching. Websites such as the BBC have examples of the most popular religions, with additional links about where they originated. You can also look for books on Amazon regarding different spiritual practices. There are many options to consider when practising spiritual self-care. Choose the direction that will help you the most.
8. Financial Self Care
Financial self-care (probably the most dreaded) involves taking care of matters involving money. We have a great article on money tips available, if you’d like more details.
An unhealthy example would be spending money on something frivolous when we are short on a paycheck. A positive example of financial self-care can be setting aside a small amount of money. Ideally, this would be weekly, so we can enjoy a holiday in the near future.
If you find yourself not able to make ends meet. Either by struggling to pay down debt, or finding yourself lost on expenses, it may be a good time to sit down and practice financial self-care.
How Do I Nourish It?
Financial self care can be easy to navigate. Here are some key examples.
Track income and expenses going in and out.
The best way to see how well you’re spending is by looking at your accounts. A great way to manage your money is to check your bank statements periodically. I myself check my bank statements at the end of the day when I’m done working. For me, this gives peace of mind regarding my finances. Using apps such as MINT which are designed for tracking finances can be a great tool for money upkeep.
Create a monthly budget.
Easy, right? Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The first step is to gather all your financial documents. Second, calculate your income. Third, create a list of monthly expenditures. You’ll then figure out your variable and fixed expenses and, finally, total your monthly income and expenses. You can easily create a budget using your phone, computer, or writing it down so long as you have your financial information available.
Prioritize certain debts.
Debt can be a huge burden for most of us. A great way to tackle debt is by using the Snowball Method. This technique requires that you pay off your smallest debts first, and like a snowball, it will start off little and keep growing over time. You basically pay the minimum on all your balances. But, on your smallest one, add as much money as you can to it. Once it’s paid off, roll the extra money you were using for that balance into the monthly payment for the next smallest balance. I myself am using this technique to tackle medical debt, and thus far it has worked wonders.
Look at what you spend monthly and see if there is anything that can be cut down or out.
If you find yourself debating whether or not to ditch Netflix or skip dinner, it’s time to cut down. Look over your apps, phone and internet plans, streaming services etc. and see where your money is going. The best way to cut down on expenses, here, is to let go of the apps and services that we are not using as much. If you use them all equally, try cutting down the most expensive ones if they can help your finances.
Speak to a financial adviser or a friend who can help you become savvier with your income and other expenditures.
Asking for help is difficult, but asking for help on money matters is another matter entirely. Nonetheless, speaking to a financial adviser can greatly benefit us. For one thing, hearing about our money issues from another person can help us learn and improve. Websites such as Experian and FindYourCreditUnion are great tools to help find someone who is financially savvy.
I Understand All The Components of Self-Care, Now What?
Try incorporating the examples of each of the components into practice. Taking care of our wellbeing begins with taking the first step. It may be difficult or challenging, but many of these components intertwine with each other. For example, taking care of debt can help with our psychological well being. Especially as the pressing issues and stress of debt are wiped out.
If we begin now to practice wellness in different areas of our lives, it’ll be the key to living a more enriched and stress-free existence.