Dr. Susanna La
Updated: Mar 10
Are you feeling stressed out and/or emotionally drained? Do you tend to focus on taking care of everyone else’s needs above your own? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may benefit from some intentional self-care.
What is Self-Care?
We hear about self-care all the time, but what really is self-care? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), self-care is meant to “empower individuals and communities to manage their health and well-being.” Self-care focuses not only on mental/physical wellness, but also on the prevention of worsening symptoms and how to cope with current difficulties.
Self-care looks different for every person. This is because what is nourishing for one person may not be for someone else. For example, introverts may find alone time restorative, whereas extroverts may find this lonely and energy depriving. You can read more about introverts here.
The essence of self-care is in the name, doing things to help us care for ourselves. While many of us think of self-care as a luxury, in reality, it is a necessity. If you think about our electronics like cell phones or laptops, they require daily charging or they will run out of battery. Also, if our electronics are doing multiple tasks, the battery gets depleted quicker and requires more charges. Our electronics can also overheat if it's running too many programs or hasn't had time to sleep/shutdown. This is true for us too as we also need breaks and time to recharge in order to restore our health.
Benefits of Self-Care
Practicing self-care can help us to reduce our stress, enhance our energy, and increase our life satisfaction by engaging in activities we enjoy (Phoenix, n.d.). Self-care is an important buffer to keep us live a sustainable life. In fact, it is usually when we stop practicing self-care that we need it the most! Consequences of poor self-care include increase vulnerability to stressors and mental health symptoms like anxiety/depression. Self-care also helps us to reduce burnout, be more present in relationships, and be effective at work.
Types of Self-Care
The self-care wheel by Olga Phoenix (n.d.) is a very helpful resource that breaks down self-care into six categories. They are psychological, emotional, spiritual, personal, professional, and physical self-care. We can focus on one, several, or all domain(s) of self-care depending on our needs and what can help us create a more balanced life to interrupt our general busyness. You can find the self-care wheel by clicking here.
Psychological self-care can include seeing a therapist, reading a self-help book, joining a support group, journaling, and/or taking time for self-reflection.
Emotional self-care can include practicing self-compassion (you can read more here), watching a funny movie, engaging in a hobby, cuddling with your pet, and/or telling ourselves affirmations like “I’m doing the best I can.”
Spiritual self-care can include spending time in nature, engaging with a spiritual community, meditating, watching the sunrise/sunset, and/or volunteering for a meaningful cause.
Personal self-care can include spending time with loved ones, reading, making a plan to work towards life goals and values (you can read more about values here), and/or learning a new skill.
Professional self-care can include setting boundaries by saying "no" at work, taking breaks, going on vacation, and/or taking mental health days.
Physical self-care can include getting adequate sleep, eating consistent meals, exercise, receiving medical care, and/or physical intimacy.
Practicing self-care is an important coping skill, and you get to decide what this looks like. You can start off small and work towards larger self-care goals. Take some time to reflect on how you can create more balance and head towards wellness in your life. If you are interested in learning more about self-care and want to work with us, you can contact us by clicking here.
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” - Katie Reed
Phoenix, O. (n.d.). Self-Care Wheel. https://olgaphoenix.com/self-care-wheel/
World Health Organization (n.d.) Self-Care Interventions for Health. https://www.who.int/health-topics/self-care#tab=tab_1
Stay tuned. The next topic is "Enjoying Your Vacation."
Written by Susanna La, Ph.D.
Edited by Elena Duong, Psy.D.