Sydney Gideon, LSW

Today, “self-care” has become somewhat of a trigger word when discussing mental health. If you’re stressed, feeling down, or are having a crappy week people’s go to response tends to revolve around what you should be doing for self-care. While it’s great that more and more people are becoming aware of the necessity of self-care, I wonder if we really understand what self-care means. Is self-care using a facemask? Is self-care going for a run? Is self-care something you do once a week and are set? By going to therapy are we able to hit our “self-care goal” for the week? While the terminology has become more recognized, the definition is still unclear. It’s important to understand what self-care actually means in order to effectively implement these practices into our lives. There are actually four different types of self-care: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. These variations are discussed below.

Mental Self-Care

The most important part of mental self-care is ways to manage stress. In order to manage stress one has to develop the ability to challenge and reframe negative thought patterns. As humans we have the tendency to jump to worst case scenario which greatly increases our anxiety levels. If we’re able to rationalize with ourselves in order to create more logical thought patterns our stress levels will decrease. This is a skill that takes time and patience to develop. For guidance and support in creating more positive thought patterns seeking therapy is very helpful.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care encompasses all aspects of how you treat your body. This includes what you eat, how much sleep you get each night, your exercise routine, and even how much water you’re drinking in a day. Without adequate focus on each of these categories our body will struggle to function. Some other factors that can negatively impact our bodies are caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and sugar. Ironically, these are many of the things we turn to in times of stress for temporary relief. Unfortunately it’s just that. Temporary. Limiting the consumption of these things and trying to find alternatives is crucial in your overall physical health.

Emotional Self-Care

When we live a life true to ourselves our emotional health is at its all time high. While this may seem easy, it’s easy to get swept up in societies opinions of things as well as the desire to please others. This can pull us away from living our authentic lives. Developing our assertiveness is an essential factor in living an authentic life. Often times when faced with a problem or confrontation, our lack of ability to deal with it efficiently causes a depletion of our emotional and mental capabilities. Developing the ability to confidently stand up for ourselves while expressing our opinions and beliefs can lead to healthier relationships with others with a foundation of respect.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care is simply allowing yourself time, each day, to connect and check in with yourself. This can include going on walks, meditating, journaling, or engaging in other calming activities you enjoy. You can even use your shower or bath time to check in with yourself and reflect on your emotions. During this time it’s also beneficial to identify and acknowledge things you’re grateful for whether big or small. This practice is essential to remain grounded.

If you or someone you know is struggling to implement self-care into their daily routine, , it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Visit symmetrycounseling.com or call 312-578-9990 to make an appointment with one of our skilled therapists today!