Self-care is a term that has been gaining increased popularity in the past few years. If you Google “self-care”, you will be greeted with lists of activities that you can do. Many of the ideas are focused on taking care of your physical needs including sleep, diet, and exercise. Others will aim to improve your mental health with journaling, going to therapy, and taking mental health days. These ideas are helpful to get you started with a self-care regimen.
A valuable question to ask yourself when you are doing anything is why are you doing it? What is the purpose or function of this behavior? Friedrich Nietzsche is credited with saying:
“He (or she) who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” By understanding the purpose behind self care, it becomes easier to utilize it to your benefit. One of the main purposes of self-care is to give yourself what you need in the present moment.
There are many aspects in each of our lives that impact us. When focusing on this purpose of self-care, it is important to check in with each of the domains of wellness. Some of the domains to check in with include: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, financial, environmental, and spiritual. Looking at how you are doing in each of these areas can allow you to better understand what you most need in the current moment. It is expected for the health in each of these areas to fluctuate regularly and for the self-care activities to change. For example, at times my social health needs may be high and it would be beneficial for me to go out and socialize with friends. At other times, I will need a break from socialization and a night alone is the appropriate form of self-care for me at that moment. By reflecting on my needs in the moment, self-care is used to serve me.
One of the forms of self-care I have adopted is to do things I’m procrastinating. For example, I tend to get nervous about calling people on the phone and will try to put it off as long as possible. Often by the time I make the phone call my anxiety is very high. However, when the call ends I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. By doing the things that scare me, I take care of my mental health. This form of self-care probably won’t be found on a list of suggested self-care activities. But, knowing the purpose of self-care, I am able to find activities that will help me fulfill my needs in the moment. That is why it is important for me to recognize the purpose of self-care and use that to guide my actions.
Self-care is a form of showing yourself love. By checking in with yourself and caring about your needs, you may be better able to accomplish your goals. If you are unsure of where to begin your self-care journey, check in with yourself and look at self-care ideas to decide what needs you have that you can meet in the moment you are in.
By understanding self-care that works for you, you can give yourself what you need in the current moment to show yourself the love and care you deserve.
Know that you are never alone and help is always available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to get connected with a local crisis center.