What do you think of when you hear people talk about self care? I formally learned about self care when I was at college. I have a Bachelors of Social Work, and self care was an actual topic of study and a requirement for professional social workers as per the NASW. These days people talk about self care as manicures, pedicures, time at the sauna, exercise, relaxing, and things that are highly instagramable, but self care is about how you re-charge yourself-not about taking the perfect selfie.
A while back I talked about the 7 dimensions of wellness, and how I follow them you can read about that here. Self care also has multiple parts, and they are similar to the dimensions of wellness. They are physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and professional self care. These are all very important. I will share my self care routine with you, and maybe that will inspire some ideas of how to bring more self care into your own life.
Physical Self Care
This is the most talked about type of self care. This is where the mani/pedi, sauna, long bath, massage, eating well and exercise come into play. Anything that helps you physically recharge.
For me physical self care is making sure I exercise at least 3 days a week. I enjoy taking classes at The Bar Method, going for walks, and I recently started using a fun program called the ABCs of Fitness.
I try to eat a fruit or vegetable with each meal, and I do not classify any foods as good or bad. Food is just food, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying it. This is self care for me, because I used to feel guilty if I ate a cupcake or “junk” and now I just eat it and move on with my day.
I do enjoy the occasional mani/pedi when my budget allows for it. I have started being more intentional about a skin care routine and taking that time out of my morning and evening to help physically put my best face forward.
Emotional Self Care & Psychological Self Care
I am putting these two together, because they play off of one another so much. Emotional self care is about feeling and acknowledging your emotions, but not letting them control you. Psychological self care is about taking care of your mind.
I practice these types of self care in a few different ways. The most important one is that I have a therapist that I talk to. When I first started seeing her back in 2015, I went weekly, now I go about 2 times a month. Seeing a therapist is a wonderful thing. I can talk about ANYTHING I want in that room, and not have to worry about making anyone around me angry, and without judgement. It’s nice to have a sounding board that is a neutral party when making life decisions. This practice helps me process my emotions in a healthy way, and prevents me from falling off the deep end and letting them rule my life.
This is the type of self care where setting boundaries comes in. I set boundaries by saying no to attending events that will make my schedule too chaotic. I keep certain evenings blocked off from scheduling anything, so I can make my own appointments during those times.
Spiritual Self Care
This is all about being spiritually fed. This does not necessarily mean being part of an organized religion. It’s about connecting with our higher power and finding our purpose in life.
My spiritual self care consists of attending church, practicing gratitude, spending time in prayer, and connecting with nature.
Professional Self Care
This type of self care is about the balancing act between work and other life. If you are not taking care of yourself and keeping your wellness in balance (yes all 7 aspects) and not taking time for the other types of self care, your professional life will suffer. All of us have some sort of profession/job in life, and we all need to balance it.
I work as a professional nanny, and a performer. I also have the job of cat mom and partner while I am at home. This does not always allow for much “me” time, so I have started to get creative to help my work/life balance.
I spend a lot of time in my car driving to and from work. I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the commute a few weeks ago. I asked myself why it was so frustrating to be in the car for up to 2.5 hours a day and the answer was that I felt like I was wasting time. I have turned my drive time into a time of self care- multitasking is fun-by checking out audiobooks on CD from the library. I prefer this to listening to books on my phone, as it makes it so I can only listen to the story while I am in my car, and it makes the drive time more exciting, and I will finally “read” the Harry Potter series.
I get a break during my work day while the toddler takes a nap. Once I finish my work tasks (dishes, laundry) I get time to myself. I fill this time getting my own things done. Making appointments, catching up with family, watching netflix, writing blog posts, online classes and sometimes this is when I get my workout in. These are all things that I do while he naps to help me be back on my game when he wakes up, and they are things that I do not have to worry about getting done at 7:30pm when I am home for the night.
So there you have it, the main ways that Alyssa practices self care. Its not all insta worthy or glamorous. Some might call it “boring self care” but its very important when it comes to keeping that wellness wheel (pictured above) in balance.