The Five Types of Self-Care

Self-care, a timely, trending ritual designed to leave us feeling uplifted, energised, and nurtured. The benefits of self-care include better concentration, higher energy levels, increased positivity, reduced stress and anxiety, and the list goes… The self-care hype is filling our social media feeds, though we’re often left with some unanswered questions. For instance, what different types of self-care exist and what do they actually entail? How often should I practice self-care?

Do not fear, this guide breaks down five types of self-care and how they can be practiced daily. Yes, that’s right daily! Despite contrary belief, self-care should be viewed as a priority, not as a weekend luxury. Treating it as a luxury may leave you feeling drained, overwhelmed, or unequipped to face life’s challenges with a growth mindset. Self-care is not all about face masks, and baths, (though they are definitely needed at times!) nor is it selfish or a sign of weakness. Self-care is defined as “the act of tending to one’s physical or mental health.” The five pillars of self-care covered in this post are: physical, social, mental, spiritual, and emotional. So, let’s dive in!

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care refers to any physical activity you engage in. We look after our body to enable it to run efficiently, providing it with the fuel it needs to reach our potentials. Firstly, this requires us to be active on a daily basis in a way that works for the individual. You’ll feel more driven to exercise if you actually enjoy it, be it walking, workouts, fitness classes or cycles. Keep experimenting until you find the one that gets you moving without clouding your joy. Secondly, sleep plays a fundamental role. Start by asking yourself if you get enough sleep and, if not, take action to make healthy changes. Thirdly, think about your diet. Fuel your body with a balanced, healthy diet. Another thing to bear in mind is health concerns. Attend to any health matters by seeking professional help if and when needed.

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Social Self-Care

As social beings, human connection is essential. Cultivate and maintain close relationships with loved ones including friends, family members, partners and pets. It is easy to neglect our social life when life gets in the way, you know like when you’re too busy to even finish that to-do list. The amount of time devoted to relationships is subject to the individual. Extroverts may need a weekend-full of social activities to get their fix, while introverts may require a more precise balance of alone time and socialising to feel fulfilled. Regardless of personality type, a great question to ask yourself is if you devote enough time to catching-up or having fun with your loved ones and is there any relationship that you may have unwillingly neglected.

Mental Self-Care

Mental self-care encompasses anything related to the mind, and closely intertwines with psychological and emotional health. The way the mind works greatly influences our overall sense of well-being. Mental health involves our reasoning and decision-making skills as well as our ability to concentrate and retain information. A great way to sharpen the mind is by carrying out mentally stimulating activities daily. Such activities include reading, learning a new skill, word puzzles, maths problems, or anything that requires a mental effort like writing, drawing, painting etc.

Mental self-care also entails how we think, process and understand information. It’s vital that you work towards a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. Do you find yourself doubting your abilities, questioning yourself, or frequently clouded with negativity? These are signs of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset sees problems as challenges, mistakes as learning curves, while driven by self-belief and persistence. Throughout life it’s natural to experience both mindsets, though it is of greater value to practice a growth mindset for our mental well-being. Check out this short video for a more detailed explanation and tips on how to achieve this.

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Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual health does not necessarily refer to religion, though commonly associated with this pillar, and can be practiced by atheists and agnostics too. It’s concerned with meaning and purpose; having a defined set of values and morals and living in accordance with them. Essentially, it’s acknowledging what you believe to be right or wrong, important and meaningful and applying them to our actions and goals. Spiritual well-being greatly impacts our overall well-being and can bring us inner peace. For instance, have you ever done something you don’t agree with like gossip about someone or tell a lie, and then been flooded with guilt? That’s because it doesn’t align with your values and principles.

Spiritual self-care practices include being surrounded by those that are aligned with your values, whether it be a friend or forms of entertainment like podcasts or books, all these things influence us greatly so choose them wisely. Another key pillar to spiritual health is to ensure that our actions represent our beliefs. Intentionally set out your values and purpose by creating Stephen Covey’s innovative personal mission statement as seen in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The statemen defines what is most important to you, the person you want to be and how you’d like to be remembered by those that cross your path, and lifetime goals you would like to achieve. A value could be something as simple as kindness or honesty, while goals could be starting a family, becoming an entrepreneur or being a valued employee. The statement can be a guide for decision-making processes, behaviour, actions and stay focused on long-term goals.

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Emotional Self-Care

Emotional health is both the awareness of our emotions and the ability to manage and express those feelings appropriately. It’s about acknowledging, processing, and expressing emotions in a healthy way. Developing supportive friendships is crucial in order to talk about negative emotions or doubts and support you through any emotional turmoil. It’s also essential to be your own best friend. Self-talk can be the be-all or end-all. For more guidance on negative self-talk, work on self-love and how you can silence your inner critic.

A great practice for anyone who has a tendency to struggle with this pillar is to journal at the start and end of each day. Outline affirmations, gratitude and three goals to keep you focused on the day ahead and control a wandering mind. Likewise, at the end of each day note down what you are grateful for to stay on track. Let’s face it, processing and expressing emotions in a healthy way isn’t always a walk in the park. Try out a range of practices until you find one that works for you and make a concerted effort to practice the technique that’s effective for you when faced with particular emotions. For instance, when stressed focus on breathwork or learn to release anger in a healthy way like with exercise or journaling. And, finally, schedule in fun activities and always have something to look forward to. Don’t fall into the trap of punishing yourself based on fleeting emotions.

Self-care shouldn’t be expensive or overly time-consuming. If you find yourself neglecting one of the pillars of self-care, work to improve that specific area. Reap the benefits by establishing rituals that work for you. See it as a concoction of healthy habits that enhance your overall well-being and enable you to flourish.

P.S. Check out my free five-minute morning journal below to start the day as you mean to go on.

“Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others and watch yourself bloom.” – The Sprouting Sunflower

Simple Self-Care Guide to Health

Following the Christmas holidays, it’s time for some self-care in time for the New Year. After weeks of eating and drinking to our heart’s desire in addition to numerous late nights, it starts to take a toll on our body, skin, and mood in general. Forget waiting for January, start feeling revitalised, and get glowing with energy today. Follow these five simple steps to see the New Year in feeling healthily replenished.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water may seem pretty obvious, especially as our bodies are 60 – 70% water. It’s essential to get the doctor-recommended two litres a day due to the healing and purifying properties water contains. In fact, if you find yourself with reduced energy levels, water may be the answer. That’s because our brain is around 75% water requiring a specific amount to function properly. Water is key as it enables the body to remove any unwanted toxins, which in turn helps boost our immune system.

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Get Moving

Earn yourself that downtime on the sofa by getting active beforehand. Movement, be it yoga or a gentle walk, encourages blood flow and the release of impurities. In addition, it increases energy levels, reduces stress calming both the mind and body. Plus, exercise stimulates the production of the brain chemical dopamine, also known as the “feel-good” hormone enhancing our mood and happiness levels. Be sure to make getting active part of your self-care routine.

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Rest Up

Be sure to get enough sleep, preferably the recommended 7 to 9 hours, in order to feel truly replenished. Sleep deprivation promotes low morale meaning it’s vital to get enough rest. Establish a good sleep routine or even throw in a siesta if needed. Sleeping is the best meditation after all.

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Eat Smart

Christmas is renowned for indulging in sweet treats, alcoholic beverages, and an abundance of food as part of the festive fun. But now it’s time to slowly get back on the healthy bandwagon in order to get our body functioning optimally. Focus on cleansing your body with foods that help eliminate toxins. Any foods high in anti-oxidants are a great place to start, think fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds. Cut down on unhealthy snacks by substituting them for some food medicine. Blueberries, avocadoes (homemade guacamole definitely counts!) and apples are particularly good for cleansing the body.

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Reflect

2020 has certainly been a different year with a rollercoaster of ups and downs for everyone. As easy as it may seem to write 2020 off as a year worth forgetting, take a moment to reflect on this year’s journey around the sun. Think about what you have accomplished and what you’re proud of. Were you kind to yourself? Have you helped others? Are you aligned with your values? Jot it down in order to analyse what went well and what could be improved. These reflections will act as a guide for next year’s goals. Remember, you can only ever be better than the person you were yesterday.

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As this year comes to an end, be sure to celebrate the completion of 2020 by feeling replenished and energised. Don’t wait for those New Year’s resolutions, boost your body and spirits before this year closes. What are your top self-care tips to leave you feeling revitalised and replenished?

Simple Self-Care Tips for the Winter Season

As winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the perfect time to embrace the seasonal changes. Winter is rolling in which means our self-care routines and leisure activities, much like our wardrobes, are in need of a switch-up. Welcome in the beauty of winter with these simple self-care tips to embrace the chill.

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The Benefits of a Seasonal Routine

Did you know that the seasons affect both our body and mind? Scientific studies show that seasonal variations including temperatures, daylight, and weather conditions affect us. Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is an example of human seasonality. Those with the disorder tend to suffer depressive episodes in late autumn or early winter, sapping energy and augmenting mood swings. One reason for this is that reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels.

Luckily, there are some simple steps we can take in order to stay in sync with the seasons. Our daily self-care practices help keep us happy and healthy. So with the arrival of winter, it’s time to prioritise self-care.

Winter Walks

Nothing is quite as refreshing as a winter walk. Not only is it a wonderful way to get a dose of fresh air, it also provides us with the natural light that our body craves during the winter months. It may seem less appetising during the cold months, especially on those frosty mornings. Even so, you won’t regret it. It’s a wonderful way to get exercise and even enjoy the company of a loved one. Or, to make the most of some alone time, why not make it meditative by giving a walking meditation a go?

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Vitamin D

During the winter months, it can be hard to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. Yet, vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones and strengthening our immune systems. Studies actually show that vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression. Luckily, between 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight several times a week is a great way to get your dose of vitamin D. And, for those gloomy days, there are some delicious sources of vitamin D including: fortified soy, almond and rice milk, mushrooms, fortified orange juice, oily fish and fortified cereals and oats.

Soak in Hot Baths

Soaking in a bath is a pleasant way to relax and, according to the Healthline, it can also help reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Basically, a relaxing bubble bath can be used as an excellent antidote to a stressful day as well as warming you up amid the winter chill. Soak in a hot bath whilst soothing your senses with some scented candles or fragrant bath salts. Or why not make a day of it and schedule a spa day for the ultimate relaxation.

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Ayurvedic Rituals

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of holistic health, which embraces natural practices to nurture the body and mind. In Ayurveda, wellness is known as the absence of disease and the vibrancy of being at ease with yourself and others. Although Ayurveda focuses on three different body types, there are many lifestyle practices to benefit from regardless of our dosha. Tongue scraping, for example, first thing in the morning is an effective way of removing toxins and bacteria accumulated overnight. Drinking warm water first thing also has incredible benefits including hydration of the body’s tissues, aiding digestion, and, of course, keeping you warm and cosy on those winter mornings. For more amazing Ayurvedic practices and an in-depth guide to rituals and recipes specific to your body type, check out this Ayurvedic Beginner’s Guide.

Journaling

Momentaneous sadness or irritation is normal irrespective of the seasons. Yet, those rainy days or winter chills can take an extra toll on our mood at times. This is when journaling can come in handy. Relaying your thoughts on paper is a great way of coping with fleeting negativity. It can help to understand the reasons behind these emotions, or even enable us to stumble upon some solutions. Positive affirmations are also a great way to stay on track in moments of self-doubt or worry. We are what we think, and in turn, our moods, days, and lives stem from our thoughts. Release some “feel-good” hormones with the help of psychologist Doctor Carmen Harra’s expertise in affirmations.

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Music

Did you know that your brain actually releases dopamine, also known as the feel-good neurotransmitter, when you listen to music? Pleasurable music induces release of dopamine, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. So, if you’re looking for an instant mood-boosting hack to cure your winter blues, it’s time to put your favourite playlist on. And what better way to get in the Christmas spirit than dancing, cooking or showering to some Christmas classics. Because, who doesn’t feel happier after listening to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, right?

Ignite Your Inner Creativity

Getting creative is entertaining and provides us with an abundance of benefits. From stress relief to increased confidence, we have all experienced first-hand the feeling of accomplishment that creativity brings. Whether it be some mindful baking to whip up some tasty treats, reading in a cosy corner of the house or drawing and painting to your heart’s desire, the options are endless. To practice some seasonal creativity, why not create a beautiful hand-made gift this Christmas or have a go at making some delicious wintery drinks to feel replenished.

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Winter is a wonderful season that has so much to offer. From snuggling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate to exhilarating winter sports, this season deserves to be celebrated. Wintertime is renowned for its frosty mornings and crisp air, yet it’s also a time to embrace the beauty of winter walks, cosy corners and festive spirits.