Self care is an essential part of maintaining and improving your overall well-being. It’s about taking the time to prioritize your own physical, mental, and emotional health, and finding ways to cope with the demands of daily life.
Unfortunately, many of us struggle to find the time and energy to practice self care, and as a result, our well-being suffers. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the different types of self care and providing examples of how to incorporate them into your daily routine.
By the end, you’ll have a complete guide to self care and be equipped with personalized tools to prioritize your own well-being. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Self Care?
Self care is exactly what it says, it’s taking care of YOU. It’s the deliberate, intentional ways you maintain and improve your holistic wellbeing. Think of this as doing the things that nourish your body, mind, and soul.
It goes way beyond a manicure or bubble bath. It’s also not a long, overwhelming list of all of the influencer-inspired things you should be doing to live your best life.
Self care is creating nourishing routines and choosing to do things like eat well, set aside time for hobbies, connect with loved ones, etc., so that you have a meaningful and joyful life.
Why is it Important?
If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? The choices you make and what you do each day impacts your health and overall wellbeing.
Self care has the power to reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost energy levels, all benefits that give you more capacity to do the things you truly want (and need) to do each day.
Self care has also been shown to prevent burnout, benefit mental health, AND improve relationships. Additionally, self care habits are one of the few things you have control over on a daily basis (for the most part, of course).
You can’t control what your colleagues do, the family emergencies that come up, or the weather, but you can control how you take care of you, which makes it so much easier to deal with anything and everything that life throws at you.
It’s the classic “fill your cup,” “put your oxygen mask on first”, and “take time for yourself” cliche that we tend to roll our eyes at. Cliches aside, when you prioritize and take care of your own wellbeing, you’re able to do the things that give your life meaning and purpose.
Why are there Different Types?
Humans are complex, wellness is complex, and taking care of yourself is also complex. There are many different dimensions and elements to your mind, body, and soul, and it makes sense that taking care of yourself would be best when approached from different angles.
I love the National Wellness Institute’s model of wellness, The Six Dimensions of Wellness, which together “build a holistic sense of wholeness and fulfillment.” There are six different types of wellness, which each require different approaches to be maintained.
For example, think of it like baking cookies. To get a successful, delicious, treat, you need different ingredients that do specific things and interact with each other. Self-care is the same idea, the different components each have their role, yet are also dependent on the others. It’s also important to note that self care is also very personal. What works for someone might not work for others.
How Does Self Care Work?
Self care isn’t a quick-fix or a switch that suddenly activates health, happiness, and wellness. It’s a life-long journey that takes work and action. Once you figure out what you need and what works best for you, you need to consistently practice self care.
For example, let’s say you want to improve your energy levels. You’re sick of feeling exhausted, slow, and groggy. You recognize that you haven’t been sleeping well, so you decide to improve your sleep habits as a form of self care.
You limit screen time before bed, get to bed about 9 hours before you need to wake up, make sure your room is cool and dark, etc.
Box is checked for sleep self care, right? For that night, sure. To improve your energy, not so much. If you find these routines and habits work and improve your health, they must be repeated most nights.
Just like you wouldn’t water a plant once and call it fed and hydrated, self care isn’t a simple checkbox. It’s a daily lived experience that can have impactful benefits, but the results come from consistency, persistence, and reflection.
Where to Start
For self care to work for, it must be personalized and relevant to you. To start, simply check in with yourself and consider where you’re struggling the most. Scanning over the types of self care below might trigger some feelings of “that’s me!” and give you a good idea of what to focus on.
If writing things down helps you, here are some self care journal prompts that can also help you get started practicing the different types of self care that will be most helpful.
- What do I need?
- What do I currently do well with?
- What do I feel good about?
- What is lacking?
- What have I struggled with recently?
- What is most important to me when it comes to my personal wellness?
Take time to reflect, rather than jumping ahead to scheduling a massage or overhauling your kitchen. Ensure there is intention behind the actions you take.
The Types of Self Care
The 6 Types of Self Care:
- Physical Self Care
- Emotional Self Care
- Intellectual Self Care
- Social Self Care
- Occupational Self Care
- Spiritual Self Care
Physical Self Care
This is probably the most well-known component of self care. When we think of self care, we almost always skip right to thinking about healthy eating, exercise, and sleep.
Taking care of your physical body impacts both your short and long-term health and how you feel. Physical self care can improve heart health, digestion, physical fitness, longevity, and reduce pain and risk of chronic health conditions.
Examples of Physical Self Care
- Eating a variety of nutritious foods
- Attending preventative medical appointments
- Creating a personal hygiene routine
- Getting enough quality sleep
- Resting and seeking medical care when sick
- Regular movement and exercise
- Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol
Emotional Self Care
Emotional self care is about your ability to acknowledge and cope with feelings and emotions. It’s having self-awareness to feel and understand what your emotions are trying to tell you about yourself and what may be going on around you.
Emotional self care can have a positive impact on mental health, stress management, and resilience. Taking care of emotional needs equips you to handle difficult circumstances that come up, be more present, and able to care for others.
Examples of Emotional Self Care
- Identifying and expressing your feelings in a constructive way
- Practicing mindfulness
- Setting boundaries
- Taking breaks and relaxing
- Seeking support from mental health professionals
- Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment
- Reducing and managing stress
Intellectual Self Care
Learning and personal growth are key elements of intellectual wellness. Practicing intellectual self care means being actively engaged, being curious, and having an open mind.
Intellectual self care is important for your creativity, problem solving, and contributing to society in a way that aligns with your personal values. It allows you to be fulfilled and responsibly engaged with the world.
Examples of Intellectual Self Care
- Learning and practicing hobbies
- Taking classes to learn new things unrelated to work or school
- Recognizing personal strengths
- Reading articles and books
- Solving puzzles
- Playing games
- Trying new things
- Engaging in creative and/or artistic activities
- Participating in discussions and debates
Social Self Care
We often underestimate the impact and influence that personal relationships have on our wellness. Social self care is building and maintaining strong and supporting relationships with others. It’s important and well worth it to take the time to nurture your relationships.
Connecting with your family, friends, partners, and community members provide a strong sense of belonging, provide support, and reduce stress. Research has shown that people who have strong social connections are happier, healthier, and live longer than those who are isolated and alone.
Examples of Social Self Care
- Taking time to be with friends and family
- Meeting new people
- Keeping in touch with old friends
- Engaging with a meaningful community
- Volunteering with a cause that is important to you
- Seeking out advice from friends and family
Occupational Self Care
Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work. Contributing your knowledge, skills, and strengths through your job can bring a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment to life. Occupational self care allows you to thrive at your career while also maintaining a good work-life balance.
Work can provide purpose and meaning to your life through the impact it has on the world. Taking active steps to feel positive, motivated, and content at work can play a big part in your overall health and happiness.
Examples of Occupational Self Care:
- Acknowledging, using, and improving professional skills
- Setting boundaries around responsibilities
- Taking on interesting and rewarding projects
- Checking in with the “why” behind work
- Connecting with colleagues and leadership
- Managing priorities and time well
- Maintaining a healthy work life balance
Spiritual Self Care
Spiritual self care gives awe, meaning, and purpose to life. When you live according to your values and beliefs, you will likely feel connected to something bigger than yourself.
Practicing self care for spiritual wellness helps you connect with your inner self and spirituality to bring peace and calm to life.
Examples of Spiritual Self Care
- Reflecting on and living out personal beliefs and values
- Spending time in nature
- Praying and meditating
- Setting aside time for reflecting, thinking, and/or journaling
- Attending religious or spiritual ceremonies and traditions
- Participating in work and causes that are personally meaningful
How to Incorporate the Different Types of Self Care Into Your Daily Routines
There are many different ways to include self care into every day to improve and maintain all aspects of your wellbeing. How you take action isn’t important, as long as it feels good and works for you.
Take some time to reflect on what you need to feel your best for each of the dimensions of wellness. This way the changes you make are intentional and deliberate, making it more likely you’ll be successful to stick with them.
Start small with something that is doable and important. Give yourself permission to make slow progress, knowing that sustainability is more important than a short-term fix.
Be persistent, but also flexible. If something doesn’t work or go to plan, that’s okay. It’s expected when making a change and is part of the process. Remember to be kind to yourself and have self compassion.
Make a plan to realistically fit in self care habits throughout the week. It can be helpful to schedule self care, just as you would a meeting or appointment. This can be especially helpful if you struggle to prioritize yourself.
Some other ideas to consistently practice self care:
- Link new habits to current daily routines
- Set reminders and alarms in your phone
- Have a friend hold you accountable, or better yet, join you
- Use a habit tracker to stay motivated and consistent
- Keep a daily self care journal
- Set a specific goal with a reward once the goal is reached
- Choose one type to focus on for a week at a time
- Make it fun and enjoyable
Self care isn’t selfish and it’s also not usually aesthetic or easy. It’s making intentional choices on a consistent daily basis to take care of all of you – your body, mind and soul.
Real self care is tough work, and pushes you to get to the core of what makes you YOU. It’s about experimenting, reflecting, and pushing yourself to prioritize your own needs, even when it seems impossible.
Challenge yourself to set a self care goal this week and think intentionally about why it’s important to you and how you will make it a priority. Share this post along with your goal to encourage your friends and family to take care of themselves along with you!