Self Care 101: The 6 Different Types of Self-Care
Too often, we feel swept up in day-to-day tasks, suffocated by our long-term goals, and stumped by the opposition that life relentlessly throws our way. Not to mention, for many of us, these last few years have undoubtedly been some of the most challenging – and for spectacular reasons. Following a two-year pandemic and the mental health spirals that have accompanied it, practicing self care can feel like a foreign concept. However, it’s time we change that. It’s time for self care 101: self care is never selfish! Here are 6 different types of self care you can implement into your days.
- Taking time in your day to practice self care is not selfish.
- We often think of self care as physical and emotional, but ensuring that we are taking care of ourselves socially, mentally, and spiritually allows us to better care for ourselves.
- Disorganization in our personal spaces often leads to feelings of chaos inside; thus, it is important to take care of your living space to take care of yourself.
Self care 101
Author and activist Parker Palmer says it best: “Self care is never a selfish act– it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”
It is time to change the narrative that there is not enough time in the day to practice self care. Society has instilled in us the idea that taking care of ourselves has to include some combination of bubble baths, face masks, and a night in bed with a book. Don’t get me wrong – these are all *excellent* ways to practice self care; however, that isn’t the only version nor is it a complete one.
Self care is defined by the WHO as the ability of an individual to promote and maintain their own health, prevent disease, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider. The key word here is “own.” Self care can look different for everyone. Someone’s own idea of self care may not be yours. And that is okay– you don’t have to explain your self care process to anyone.
It’s also important to note the wide range of ways that self care can be practiced and the ways it can impact your body. More specifically, taking care of ourselves extends well beyond the traditional perception of pampering. There are six types of self care: emotional, physical, social, mental, spiritual, and space. Although self care can be categorized, it also overlaps in so many areas. Physical self care is also mental self care for many of us, and so on. Keeping that in mind, here are six types of self care.
Starting with likely one of the most talked about forms of self care, physical self care includes all of the activities you do (or don’t do) that support your physical health. It’s important to include the activities that we don’t do because being physically productive looks so different every single day based on our energy levels, mental and emotional state, and to-do lists. Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do for yourself is do nothing at all. Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is choose to rest rather than force yourself to finish your to-do list.
Ways to practice physical self care include:
- Getting a massage, manicure, or pedicure
- Getting a haircut
- Taking a walk during lunch breaks
- Sleeping seven to nine hours each night
- Wearing clothes that make you feel good about your body
- Staying hydrated
- Moving your body intentionally
- Cooking healthy meals
Emotional self care includes performing activities that help you connect, process, and dwell on your full range of emotions, often done through creative expression. Emotional self care is easy to overlook or ignore without physical signs or results from our bodies. However, caring for your emotional health should be prioritized just as much as physical health.
Ways to practice emotional self care include:
- Seeing a therapist
- Asking for help when you need it
- Writing in a journal
- Creating art
- Playing music
- Actively practicing your coping skills
It may be called self care, however, our interpersonal relationships often have a direct impact on the relationship we have with ourselves. Social self care includes activities that deepen, strengthen, and nourish the relationships with the people in our lives.
Many of us can think of at least one person in our lives that is toxic or that brings us problems. It’s important to remove those people from our lives, if possible, or to find ways to reduce their impact. Who we choose to spend our time with each and every day aligns so closely with how we feel about ourselves. So, introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts alike, it is critical we figure out exactly what our social boundaries are and set them!
If you’re looking to practice social self care, try:
- Grabbing dinner with friends
- Having a movie night
- Going on a date
- Calling your mom or long-distance friends regularly
- Learning to say no
- Spending less time on social media (or using it positively)
- Asking others for help
- Connecting with a support group
The difference between mental self care and emotional self care is that mental self care includes all activities that help to reduce your stress levels and clear your mind. It also includes tasks that foster a healthy psyche or invigorate your mind. Do you struggle with productivity throughout the day? Do you struggle to think straight at the end of the day? These activities are meant to challenge and develop your mind to encourage a strong relationship between your mind, body, and soul, and to make you feel accomplished.
These activities include:
- Reading or writing poetry
- Reading a book
- Listening to a podcast
- Visiting a museum
- Watching a documentary
- Playing puzzles or board games
We’ve covered the mind and body, but what about taking care of your soul? How do you choose to get in tune with your spiritual self? Spiritual self care activities include those that nourish your spirit and allow you to get deeper and consider the bigger picture.
For many, these activities are often religious, although they don’t have to be. When thinking about spiritual self care, many of us think first of yoga or meditation, but the list is much longer. Anything that allows you to spend time reflecting on yourself is included.
These activities look like:
- Going to a place of worship
- Spending time in nature
- Hiking or walking
- Taking deep breaths or practicing breathing exercises
- Practicing mindfulness
- Repeating mantras
Space self care is often overlooked. Personally, when my space is a disaster, it often translates into feelings of anxiety, lack of control, and chaos in my day-to-day life. Taking the time to create a welcoming and inviting environment in your personal space is the perfect way to unwind, relax, and advocate for self care.
Here are some ideas to declutter your personal space:
- Make your bed
- Decorate your living space with greenery
- Diffuse essential oils
- Clear out the tabs on your phone and computer
- Wash your sheets
- Donate used items and clothing
- Fold your laundry
- Light a good candle
- Organize your closet
Understanding the different categories of self care and their respective activities allows you to better perceive the level of effort required when considering daily habits, to-do lists, and energy levels. Setting time aside each day with the intention of enhancing and nourishing your overall health and wellness is a necessity: whether it is taking the time to wash your sheets, lighting your favorite candle, or spending a few hours walking, hiking, or cooking. Self care looks different for everyone, but the overall benefits are the same.
Written by Jordan Hammaren
- Photo by Katie Barrett on Unsplash