When we hear about self-care, the usual images come to mind: bubble baths, pedicures, reading, writing, arithmetic (ok, maybe not that one). But true self-care extends so much beyond that. In fact, there have been 8 dimensions of wellness that have been identified by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Successful self-care is about taking a well-rounded approach and devoting our time and energy to each of the areas. When we focus on only a few, we neglect to really care for ourselves.
Self-care has been a sort of buzzword of late. Through the pandemic, we have been flushed with constant messages about how we need to care for ourselves. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about the importance of self-care. So, why don’t we do it more often? Well, we are busy. Self-care often seems daunting and can be intimidating, but doesn’t have to be if we make it simple and individualized to our own needs.
The Wellness Wheel
The key is to start small and start with something manageable. It doesn’t have to be something new or even all that sexy. It just has to be meaningful to you. Let’s take a look at a few different strategies for each of these:
Discover what you like to do best, and do it often. It will help keep your spirits and emotions up.
Take some time to yourself regularly.
Find a place where you feel comfortable and go there when you feel a need for comfort, quiet space, or safety.
Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.
Identify resources that can help you with a sleep schedule or ideas for meal planning
Keep a calendar. Be sure to look it over and schedule time for activities that you enjoy.
Use tracking tools to balance your workload. Ask for help if your workload becomes overwhelming.
Take the time to think of what you enjoy most, and research careers/ employment in that area.
Talk to your employer/coworkers about how they like to communicate so everyone can be responsive to individual needs and work styles.
When something is not working at work, let people know what would help.
Befriend people who can stimulate your mind, and get into a discussion with them about topics that interest you.
Subscribe to your local newspaper or pick up a free edition. Many offer sections on subjects that are local, national, and international.
Find a community group or organization where you could teach a class or a workshop, or lead a discussion.
Consider becoming a member at the local public library to gain access to books, book readings, and other events.
Explore public events in your community by checking out the events section in the newspaper.
Look for cleanup volunteer efforts, such as collecting trash from roadways or parks.
Figure out what outdoor activities make you feel good, then find a few options that make it easy to do that.
Make a schedule to clean up your home or living space. It could be by room or activity (bathrooms on Sunday, dusting and sweeping every Wednesday, etc.).
During work hours, take a break to walk around the block or buy bottled water from a nearby store.
Ask the bank about the types of accounts available—such as checking and savings accounts—so you are using them to your advantage.
Look in your classifieds or search online for organizations that can help you pay down debt.
There are free or low-cost services that can help you plan for the future. The local library can often direct you to affordable financial planning resources.
Check out the classified ads— particularly on Sunday. Search them online any day of the week.
Find out if the bank offers tools you can use to keep track of your money.
Look online or in the local paper for groups that share your interests—whether it’s knitting or playing softball.
Ask in your spiritual community or any other community about volunteer opportunities.
Keep track of when you need to catch up with someone or when a friend or family member is due for a visit.
Organize a calendar of events that would be good ways to connect, or reconnect, to friends, like a public concert or a class reunion.
Volunteer with a local organization or initiative.
Keep an open mind and exercise your curious inquiry when meeting new people.
Check out local food co-ops if one is in your area for good, affordable food.
Meet with dietitians and nutritionists if you need help, or try programs like Weight Watchers.
Check out free resources, such as YouTube, to learn how to do yoga or other exercises.
Try managing your routine to carve out time to rest and sleep, and cut back on caffeine.
Find support groups and 12-step groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), in your community and attend meetings.
Discuss preventive health care with your doctor, dentist, or other health care provider.
Learn more about potential side effects from Consumer Med Safety.org (http://www.consumermedsafety.org) and Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org).
Read about other types of beliefs to help you become more understanding, accepting, and open-minded.
Share your beliefs, values, and principles with others, as appropriate, as a means of deepening relationships and expanding your worldview.
As often as possible, find a peaceful location to reflect and meditate.
Keep your beliefs in your thoughts to use them in your everyday life.
Learn other religions through books or conversation.
Use the above guide as a starting point or brainstorming activity. Carve out a few minutes each day to reflect on how you can focus on your own needs across the different dimensions. Use yourself as your guide. No one knows you better than you. Just remember, it isn’t selfish to care for yourself. You deserve to be well.