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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Falconer

The 8 factors of essential Self Care

Updated: Nov 9, 2023


 

The words “self-care” might make you think about lots of people on social media showing off their bath salts or maybe some relaxation techniques you can use to escape from your busy day. Perhaps the words self care make you initially guilty or fearful, as you begin to think of how you must be neglecting yourself according to society standards, or maybe they are empty words.


Whilst it is of course beneficial to take time off from our regular routines to avoid burnout and mentally, physically and emotionally recharge, self care is much more than getting a lie in or having a treat.


In this quick read blog, we will cover 8 different areas of self-care, making it easier to understand what self care really is, what areas of your life need more support, and how you can start implementing positive changes into every day life.


 

What is Self Care then?

Self-care is the act of engaging in different activities to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health that can add to your well-being. It’s a simple concept but one that often gets confusing as different opinions and ideas of self care are often thrown into the mix and cloud the over all understanding of what is, and is not “self care”.


However today we can consider this: Self care is the intentional care of ones mental, physical or emotional health, through every day practices and activities.


Why is it essential?

If you often feel physically, emotionally, or mentally drained, the chances are it is because you are neglecting an area of life that is trying to grab your attention, and something needs to change so you feel better within yourself.


Without improved self care, prolonged and chronic stress and physical, mental, and emotional fatigue will lead you to burn out.


And when we reach burn out, not only is our physical health is at risk, and we become more prone to colds, headaches, aches and pains, but we also become easily frustrated, upset and overwhelmed. The closer to burn out we become, the more we find simple tasks becoming difficult, leaving us feeling unproductive and sometimes completely unable to manage day to day.

However, when we understand that there are a variety of different forms of self care, it makes it easier to appreciate what area of life needs more support and care, and from there, what changes are necessary to help you improve your wellbeing, support your energy levels and nurture your emotional and mental state.




 

The 8 elements of self care


1.Physical Self Care

It’s probably one of the most obvious areas that need some tlc, and the area of life we tend to neglect, but a lack of self care in this area will impact all other areas of self care! It is essential to take care of our physical body, because when if we are constantly unwell and run down, we can not help or support anyone else.


And you certainly don’t need me to tell you that good physical health will come down to eating nutritious foods, exercising and using your body for movement, as well as getting adequate amounts of sleep to recharge.

You can support your physical self by:

  • Eating a healthy nutritious meal

  • Moving your body daily – whether it’s exercising, walking, dancing in your bedroom or something else entirely

  • Supplement your diet by taking vitamins or probiotics if it feels right to do so

  • Drinking a glass of water (not just because your thirsty) to hydrate your self

  • Getting the right amount of sleep for you as an individual

  • Sitting in the sun when you can for more Vitamin D – we here in Scotland are apparently lacking this!

  • Spend time in nature (even sitting watching from a window, or sitting in your garden) because it has so many health benefits

  • Enjoy a soothing bath or shower to feel cleansed


2. Mental Self Care

Mental self-care involves your cognitive abilities, and your mind’s abilities to understand and process information, remember, focus and experience. Mental self care for you might be about stimulating your mind to improve brain function, but it can include your mindset.


A healthy mind helps us process information easily, think outside the box, is better able to turn a set back to an advantage and has a clearer perspective of themselves, their life and other people.


In a similar way to boosting our brain, we can promote our mental self care by:

  • Challenging ourselves to learn something new – a language, skill, recipes, facts or something else entirely

  • Set intentions, mini goals or personal achievements to help us grow and push ourselves out of comfort levels

  • Learn from others with self help books or personal growth stories

  • Practice gratitude

  • Enjoy a social media detox if you need to break away from an ‘online life’

  • Play a game of chess or a strategy game


3. Emotional Self Care

It might be stating the obvious, but emotional self-care involves your feelings and learning to understand yourself and your emotions better. When we make time for our emotional self-care we are learning how to truly love and accept our self. Our emotional state helps us manage how we also expression our thoughts and feelings to others, and impacts our behaviours.


We can build on our emotional intelligence, our emotional resilience and create better emotional self care by:

  • Creating (or re-establishing) clearer boundaries of what we will and will not tolerate in our life

  • Make time to be alone without distractions

  • Journaling if it feels right do so

  • Speaking to others, a therapist or friend about your feelings and learn to verbalise emotions

  • Using positive affirmations

  • Asking for help (recognising when you need it, and learning to vocalise it)


4. Environmental Self Care

When we think of self care, we rarely consider our environment and how it may impact our mood or energy levels, but in order to truly thrive we need to be in the right environment for us. Whether that means being more social, and spending time inside a busy coffee shop, in a tidy and quiet room in your home, even just being outdoors more often. So, make sure you create the right type of environment that suits you as a person.


Your environment should be a place of inspiration that benefits you in some way, rather than somewhere that distracts you or makes you feel depressed. For many people (even those that hate cleaning) maintaining personal spaces that are clutter free, helps maintain a clutter free mind.


Environmental Self Care may include a variety of activities such as:

  • Making your bed every morning

  • Travelling simply for a change of scenery

  • Tidying or organizing areas around you that matter

  • Decluttering old clothes

  • Rearranging your desk space or moving to a different work zone

  • Exploring somewhere new

  • Playing music in your environment (or the opposite) cutting down on background sounds when possible

  • Bringing in new plants or flowers to bring vibrancy to your space

  • Changing your evening routine, to create a calm space and time before sleeping



5. Financial Self Care

For some people the thought of financial self care, or financial awareness may put a shiver down their spine, however having a healthy relationship with money is essential for our mental health, to prevent excess stress and anxiety even when times are hard.


Improving our financial self care might mean creating a more positive mindset around money, so we feel more clued up, or even less resentful to others who have it.


Financial self care might take some work, but also some consideration about what (if anything) is needed, but may involve:

  • Budgeting more strictly

  • Learning more about finances and banking

  • Investing more for your future

  • Setting financial mini goals

  • Using a money app to track spending

  • Dealing with debt head on

  • Being honest with yourself about spending habits

  • Allowing yourself money to have fun without feeling guilty


6. Social Self Care

Self care does not need to be a practiced ‘all by yourself’ and it doesn’t need to focus on just you!


Social self care includes building and maintaining healthy relationships with others, because who we choose to spend time with has a dramatic effect on our health and wellbeing. Social connections are essential for happiness, and good relationships help us feel loved and valued, and aid us in developing and improving communication skills.


Reconnecting with old friends or simply building and maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones is a great way to maintain social self-care, but it often requires making conscious effort and prioritising time to connect.


However, social self care can also involve creating space with people (when space is needed) to maintain boundaries and support your energy levels. It is said it takes 5 positive interactions to negate 1 negative social interaction which makes making time for positive relationships essential for improving our mood and mindset – and you can learn more in our quick read blog Social connectivity.


Social self care practice might focus on:

  • Creating new professional or personal relationships

  • Staying connected to people who matter in your life

  • Creating space for you and a friend to have a “no distraction zone”

  • Messaging a friend to let them know why you appreciate them

  • Limit time with people who drain your energy or schedule plans that helps you 'top up your cup’ of energy for after these get togethers

  • Ask for help when needed

  • Be brave enough to end relationships with toxic people

  • Accept family and friends for who they are

  • Write letters, send a card or handwritten note to a friend or loved one – it means so much more in your own handwriting

  • Engage in a community online – even a reading group, parenting support forum or a fan chat about something you love


7. Recreational Self Care

All the people I coach, people I work with, clients I see regularly, friends I know with the LOWEST stress - all have something they do for fun. Recreational self care is all about making time for things you enjoy – and when possible, things that don’t rely on someone else.

Having something enjoyable that you do, and do regularly, can boost your mood, and improve your emotional wellbeing and cognitive state. When we regularly do things we enjoy, we feel more optimistic and more of ‘ourselves’ which means when we become stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, we have a base state to return to it, as well as tools to help us feel good once again.


Recreational self care will be of course, completely unique to you and your interests, but may include:

  • Watching a favourite movie or tv show

  • Pampering yourself with a luxury treatment at a spa

  • Getting creative – painting, doing a jigsaw, a puzzle, flower arranging, changing a space you use frequently, redecorating

  • Spending time outdoors

  • Swimming or exercising

  • Reading books

  • Listening to your favourite music


8. Spiritual Self Care

While many areas of self care focused on nurturing your mind and body, spiritual self-care aims to nourish the soul, which, much like recreational self care, will be different for everyone.

To be clear, I am not talking about religion, unless that is important to you as an individual, but in a broader sense, spiritual self care is focussed on your inner being, which may include work on your deeper purpose and meaning in your life, as well as you living as your highest self, you best self.


Many people feel this area of self-care is about what makes your heart sing, or what makes you, YOU. For others is about creating an internal state of calm and peace to return to at any time.


Spiritual self care may take many forms, but can include:

  • Meditating or practicing breathwork

  • Doing activities that bring you joy

  • Spending time in nature

  • Going to a place of worship

  • Yoga and other forms of mindful exercise

  • Dedicating time for self reflection

  • Practicing positive affirmations

  • Practicing abundance and manifestation



 

Don’t confuse self care with indulgence

One area of self care coaching that frequently irritates me, is hearing other professionals tell you what is and what isn’t self care. The truth is, only you will know what you need.


Some professionals will tell you self care is making all about ‘me time’ and doing things you enjoy – sometimes it is. Whilst others will tell you, it isn’t bath salts, its about boundaries – which sometimes it also is.


In my opinion, practicing self care isn't just about spoiling yourself with treats, but it’s also not leaving yourself behind! Self care can be about internally ourselves, and whilst it's not putting ourselves as the priority, or before others, it is on equal footing as everyone else who is a priority in our life – without feeling guilty.


Self-care should be a blend of daily practices and habits, and often our self care is made up of small but impactful intentions, which help keep you energized, gratified, and able to show up for others.


Many people don’t realise that the small positive choices and actions they complete throughout their day are even considered self care, but they can be, if they benefit your mind, body and soul.

 

Making way for better self care

If you feel some changes are needed in life, but don't know how best to support your wellbeing and improve your self care, why not spend a few minutes with your own honest thoughts. Take a few minutes to be truthful with yourself, and trust your answers - you probably already know what self care support you need.


Here are a few to perhaps help you along your self care path:


1. What does self-care mean to me? 2. How might taking better care of myself benefit others? 3. Do I tend more toward self-indulgence or self-denial? 4. What are my guilty pleasures and why do they make me feel guilty?

6. Am I worn out because I feel like I'm 'on' all the time? 7. How do I tend to 'get in my own way'?

9. What does my mind need? 10. What is one thing I could stop doing, or start doing, or do differently, starting today that would most improve my quality my life?


Love & Light Jennifer xx

 

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References

Colorado State University Pueblo, 8 dimensions of wellbeing (2023) Available from https://bit.ly/3RpUmIG (Accessed 12 September 2023)

Rocky Vista Health Centre, 8 areas of self care and how to practice them (2022) Available from https://www.rockyvistahc.com/8-areas-of-self-care-and-how-to-practice-them Accessed on 11 September 2023)




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