by Sukhmeet Kaur
Self-care is when someone actively looks after their own physical and mental health. The phrase self in self-care is a bit misleading, as it may imply benefits for just the individual. However, self-care allows one to better handle challenges and support others with a mental health illness. ¹ During an emergency, we know we need to have the right equipment for ourselves before we can help another in need.Similarly, self-care should be recognized as a critical practice for everyone.
When we hear the term self-care, we may think of shopping, spas, and other indulgences. When in fact, self-care is not only for those with the privileges of money and time. The perception of what self-care means, has been distorted because we often see expensive, out of reach indulgences, labeled as such. Self-care is checking in with ourselves regularly to make sure our basic needs are met. Self-care can be broken down to these 8 areas of care: ²
- Physical self-care
- Psychological self-care
- Emotional self-care
- Social self-care
- Professional self-care
- Environmental self-care
- Spiritual self-care8.Financial self-care
A routine of getting enough sleep, a balanced meal, acting on our creative interests, identifying what triggers and calms our stress, reflecting on our beliefs, and being part of a supportive community, nourishes so many of our essential needs. In addition, having boundaries with ourselves (protecting our time and energy), with others (being okay with saying no), with our work (negotiating for self), with our finances (practicing healthy spending habits) and with our physical space (cleanliness), all allow for a much need balanced lifestyle. Now, all these different forms of self-care may seem daunting at first, so we should not aim for perfection.
The first step to practicing self-care can simply be to reflect on which areas we already focus on. This will allow one to choose a form of self-care to strengthen or focus on an area of self-care that has not been nourished thus far. Many times, it is helpful to speak to peers that are having similar experiences to us and/or mental health professionals that can support us. Here is a link to the many peer-lead and mental health professional-lead support groups that can help us feel part of a community. Practicing self-care allows us to feel more connected with ourselves and with the world around us. Self-care enables us to show up for ourselves and others much stronger and resilient in times of hardship and more grateful in times of celebration.