What Is Self Care? Techniques And Methods For Mental, Emotional, And Physical Well Being
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC
Self-care is one of the most important things that a person masters in their life. And it’s a lot more complicated than it seems! Maintaining your well-being inside and out is a task that’s vital for not only your survival, but also for your happiness, success, and peace of mind. Everyone struggles with proper self-care from time to time, and that’s normal. In such a busy world, it can be difficult sometimes to keep up with good, healthy self-care practices.
If you’re looking for some tried-and-true self-care techniques and methods, this article will explore some of the absolute best possible ways that you can take care of your mental, emotional, and physical well-being without having to break the bank or take too much time out of your busy day.
What is Self-Care?
When most people think of self-care, they probably think of taking a shower, brushing teeth, or getting enough sleep at night. But while all of these basic care activities are essential, self-care is so much more than that! Self-care means taking care of all aspects of yourself. When we’re children, we learn how to take care of our basic physical needs. But as we become teenagers, we start to realize that we need to also care for our mental and emotional well-being (our parents stop being responsible for our well-being in these departments, so we have to manage them on our own).
Self-care requires thought and effort at first if you’re not used to practicing self-care techniques regularly, but once you develop some good habits, these methods described below (or the ones of your creation) will become second nature. Taking care of yourself properly is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do, but it’s the most important thing you can do for your life and relationships, not to mention for yourself!
The Top 6 Ways to Improve Your Well Being
Below are some tried-and-true techniques for improving your entire well being. But keep in mind, this is only the start! Self-care is highly personal, so don’t be afraid to experiment with what makes you happy, what makes your body feel better, and what makes your mind clearer.
Exercise and daily physical movement are essential parts of a healthy physical self-care routine. Most experts recommend 20-30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day, though this varies depending on age, physical condition, and the presence of any related health issues. The exercise you do is your choice; be creative! Aerobic activities like jogging or swimming are great choices, but well-planned martial arts, dance, or sports routines can also do the trick.
The key here is that you get plenty of physical movement every day. Even if there are days when you simply don’t have the time to fit in a regular exercise routine, make sure you spend time standing, walking, and moving around to ensure good physical health and boost your focus and emotional well-being. Standing desks are a great way to increase physical movement during the day, especially for people who spend most of their day working at a computer or desk.
Meditation is one of the best self-care practices for improving both mental and emotional health. There are many different ways to meditate, so just like with anything on this list, it’s possible to choose the method that works best for you. Some meditation methods recommend trying to think of nothing for a set period of time to give your brain a kind of “reset” and to let your mind rest. Other types of meditation may be referred to as guided meditations and encourage the meditator to explore the mind and thoughts in a particular way to facilitate peace, focus, and mental well-being. You can even explore meditation apps on your phone to get an introduction.
Journaling is a great way to work through your thoughts, understand your current situation, and reflect on your week or day. This is a very private practice, and you’re not required to share your journal with anyone! Whatever you write in your journal should (unless otherwise specified by you) be for you, and you alone, to read and look at. If you take up a regular journaling practice, try to find a journal that’s unlined so that you can draw, write, glue photos, or do anything else you so choose to express yourself and convey your inner thoughts and emotions. If you’re trying to improve some part of yourself, journaling is an excellent way to work through inner issues and to begin to understand your behaviors (and even the behavior of other people).
- Adopt a Healthy Diet
Having a healthy diet can’t be underestimated when it comes to self-care, whether it be emotional, mental, or physical. Even though many people usually believe that diet is solely a way to care for their physical body, in reality, diet can change your mood and mental state in significant and surprisingly dramatic ways! The body requires certain nutrients and substances to be able to function properly, so when you nourish your body with whole, nutritious foods, you’re more likely to be happier, clearer-headed, and physically capable. For example, the body requires vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats to produce the hormones that control whether or not you feel happy or sad; if you don’t have enough of these nutrients, you may start to feel depressed. However, if you usually eat healthfully, you’re less likely to experience these (often) unusual and unfounded bad moods or unfocused days.
- Do Something You Enjoy
Taking the time to practice a hobby or to enjoy your favorite pastime is an essential part of any self-care practice. Most people have something that they love to do in their free time; giving yourself the chance to do the things you enjoy will boost your happiness, but it will also increase your productivity in other parts of your life. Doing the things, you enjoy, whether it be reading a good book, baking cookies, or going for a walk at sunset, will improve your general well-being and the benefits can extend into all areas of your life. Although often practicing hobbies is a way to practice mental and emotional self-care, many people have hobbies that involve exercise or a lot of physical movement or exertion, so there’s a lot of variation here!
- Socialize Regularly and Honor Private Time
Some people are more introverted, while other people are more extroverted. Still, no matter your orientation, an adequate amount of socialization, and a healthy amount of private, quiet time is essential for yourself. Self-care isn’t only about spending time alone; it’s also about spending time with others!
Humans are social creatures, and we thrive off of interaction; even the most introverted person craves a good conversation or a touch on the shoulder from a friend. But, at the same time, at the end of the day, it’s healthy to take some time to yourself to think and reflect. It’s difficult to strike a balance between social time and private time, and the exact balance varies from person to person because everyone’s needs are different. Finding your balance can produce wonderful benefits. It is incredibly essential to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally and physically because of how your physical body is often affected by thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you may feel guilty when you don’t always feel the desire to hang out with your friends and family, but it is important to remember that you can only extend yourself so much and time to recharge is essential.
Other Ways to Practice Self-Care
The number and variety of self-care practices are nearly infinite. Everyone has a unique way of taking care of their personal, physical, emotional, and mental well being. To give you some more ideas, here are some other ways to practice self-care:
- Establish a regular sleep routine
- Spend time outdoors
- Organize your home
- Take a “no technology” day
- Practice deep breathing exercises
- Wear clothes that make you feel good
- Pamper yourself (put on some lotion, get a haircut, do a foot bath, etc.)
- Work toward acceptance (of self, others, and your situation)
- Listen to music
- Read your favorite book
- Try something new
- Spend time with family or close friends
Self-care is a never-ending task that every single person must learn how to manage for themselves successfully. There are so many different kinds of self-care practices! Whether you prefer calmer, quieter activities, or if you’re more extroverted and outgoing, self-care is essential, and there are activities for everyone that can help balance the mind, body, and soul.
If you’re struggling to physically, mentally, or emotionally take care of yourself, contact one of our licensed therapists at BetterHelp for advice and support. Sometimes one of the most important self-care activities that you can do is to ask for assistance during difficult times!