It has only been 4 weeks since we started back to school and self-care has never been more needed! There are so many students that need help but only so many hours in a day. It can get really overwhelming. As a social worker, I am BIG on self-care. So, after having a little mental breakdown last week, I decided that I need to actually plan my self-care time. Otherwise, I won’t make it a priority and my mental health will suffer.
What is self-care?
Self-care is an action you do to take care of your physical, spiritual, and mental health. It is key to an improved mood, reduced anxiety, and a good relationship with oneself and others. Self-care essentially means to care for yourself and optimize your happiness.
How to make time for self-care
Taking care of yourself should be a high priority on any to-do list. I know our inclination is always to get all our work done, but when we become distracted more times than productive, it’s time to take action. There is no specific way to do self-care. You can do it every day or have a specific day dedicated to you. You can even do both!
As I said earlier, scheduling time is the key for me. I recently got a Happy Planner and have been trying to use it every week. I decided that every day I was going to plan 15-20 minutes to devote to “me” time. I shut the tv off, put the phone away and do something that I really love. This could be spending time with my dog, reading, meditating, or just sitting and listening to music.
Sometimes, with really tough weeks, a full self-care day is needed. During this time, I don’t think about work or the troubles that caused me that week. I don’t even look at my “to-do” list. Having this time to myself allows me to rejuvenate and be more productive at work.
What are you going to do?
There are so many things you could do to improve your health. Mental health experts talk about the five dimensions of self-care; physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Psychology Matters defines each dimension as the following:
Physical- “The physical dimension of self-care refers to the direct physical needs of our body to survive and thrive.”
Mental- “This dimension refers to our mental/psychological needs.” It can overlap with the emotional dimension as well.
Emotional- “This dimension refers to our emotional needs and includes specific kinds of experiences needed at the emotional level.”
Social- “This dimension refers to our social needs. In general, humans require a great deal of positive social contact/connection.”
Spiritual- “The word “spiritual” does not necessarily involve organized religion but rather refers to matters which transcend the material dimension of life.”
Some of these activities include going for a walk, getting a massage, dance, take a new exercise class, eat healthy, meditate, watch a film you love, saying “no” more, journaling, puzzles, coloring, yoga, spend quality time with a friend or family member, etc.
Some of these things you may already do but not realize all the benefits. Doing things for yourself can decrease your anxiety, stress, as well as decrease your chances of burnout.
What do you think about self-care? What do you do to practice self-care?