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How Different Categories of Self-Care Work for Me

Editor's Note

Check out The Pencil Case group on The Mighty app for creative self-care and connection (journaling, affirmations and more!).

I’m an avid fan of the self-care movement and the normalization of taking the time out of your day to take care of your mind and body. I’m also a big fan of fancy baths with flowers, bath bombs, bubbles, sliced fruit and anything else you can think of adding. While I love to throw a nice bath into my self-care routine, I realize that it takes a lot more to keep my mental health balanced.

There are many different types of self-care and each type is necessary in its own way, including physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Many of the types can overlap depending on the activity or action you take. Continuing with the bath example, this could fall under both physical and emotional.

Physical self-care can range from exercising and eating a balanced diet to brushing your teeth and combing your hair. Taking care of your physical body not only helps keep you healthy, but it helps boost your self-esteem. It’s easy to fall deeper into your depression when you don’t have the motivation to get out of bed, much less brush your teeth. However, forcing yourself to do some essential physical upkeep can give you some daily attainable goals and a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Emotional self-care can be anything that connects you to your feelings and emotions. This can be keeping a journal where you write and process your experiences, get thoughts out of your head and onto paper, reflect on your mental health journey and anything else that might pop into your head. You can try working on a gratitude list to keep track of the good things that happen each day; this is a particular favorite as it allows me to end even my hardest days by reflecting on some of the good things in life. While it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, I can find gratitude for the small beautiful things in my life, like long cuddles with my dog.

Psychological self-care can range from taking your prescribed medications to setting boundaries in any and all of your relationships. It’s incredibly important to remember to take medications that alter your mood and/or brain chemistry. If you have found a medication that works for you, be sure to keep taking it as prescribed, even when you start feeling so good you don’t think you need it anymore. Talk to your doctor and therapist, allow yourself to be honest and open about anything and everything. Set boundaries with friends and loved ones; remember “no” can be a full sentence. You don’t need to feel guilty for taking care of yourself first.

Spiritual self-care is taking care of your soul. You don’t have to believe in a specific god or religion, or anything for that matter. All you need is a willingness to connect and understand the world around you in a deeper way. As someone who is not religious, I struggled to differentiate between religion and spirituality at first, but I discovered I could be a spiritual person without worshiping a god. For me, I find myself most comfortable and connected when I’m out in nature or spending time with animals. I find the best spiritual self-care for my soul is to walk or hike while meditating. This simple activity lets me feel connected to the world around me, particularly when my Disney princess powers come out and butterflies land on me.

Keeping these categories in mind when brainstorming potential activities can help you focus on what you’re aiming to achieve through different types of self-care. Self-care is a stepping stone on the path of well-being, recovery and self-love. Find activities that work with your schedule and feel right for you. Indulge in some of the more fun forms of self-care like fancy bubble baths from time to time, but don’t overlook some of the more mundane forms. All efforts to engage in self-care are valid and worthwhile; remember you are worth your own time and effort.

Photo by Kyle Sudu on Unsplash

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