Self-care is defined as behaviors, activities and skills that you use to take care of yourself. There are a number of dimensions to the practice in each of us – physical, emotional, mental, social, intellectual, environmental and spiritual. Each aspect requires:
Well-being, in the broad sense, is about the happiness, health, stability, purpose and meaning in our lives. Think of a circle with each slice representing one element of well-being. The state of each slice influences, impacts and contributes to your overall well-being. If one area suffers, the others are affected.
Committing to take care of yourself is often low on the priority list. However, you should think about where the foundation of well-being starts – with physical self-care. Everything else is built upon. How we care for our bodies impacts our ability to cope with stress and the demands of life.
So, where to start? Begin with improving your overall physical well-being. Assess how you currently manage physical self-care and then make the necessary changes to reach your goal. Get more sleep, decrease caffeine intake, increase your intake of healthy food and start being more physically active…every day.
Also, commit to emotional self-care. Our emotions and feelings change often throughout the day. What comes first? Do emotions guide our behavior or is it the other way around? Senior Wellness Coordinator Michelle Gifford says, “Instead of asking what comes first, we must accept the fact it’s a combination of both. We know that emotions guide us in response to people, situations and other factors.”
Paying attention to feelings, we can determine what actions can improve or manage our emotional state. So what’s a “normal” emotional state? She continues, “I laugh at the word ‘normal’ because it can’t be defined easily. Emotionally healthy people experience a variety of feelings (positive, neutral and negative emotions) and can manage those thoughts and behaviors in healthy and productive ways.”
Last, but not least, is mental or emotional well-being. This includes the internal thoughts, values, morals and principles. It includes how a person thinks about themselves, others, the world and their future. Again, similar to our emotional self-care, our thoughts impact and influence our feelings which in turn influences our behaviors (it can also work the opposite as well).
All three of these dimensions influence one another. They affect every part of our lives: within ourselves, relationships with others and globally.
Michelle surmises, “If you take anything from this article, as the new year begins remember that you matter tremendously. Take care of yourself!”