Self Care: its deeper than you think!

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Self Care: its deeper than you think!

Self-care?! It seems like its the newest trend. We often see adds in magazines, television and on social media applications. We see the idea pushed by bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers. It seems like we see and hear this idea of "Self-care" everywhere! What exactly is self-care? Is it simply practicing yoga and lighting a candle like all the adds suggest? Or is it deeper? Is it helping us find a greater sense and purpose or is it consuming us and turning us into more self centered creatures?  I'm glad you tapped in! Now lets explore!

Media, as it does with any industry, social concept, or trend plays an incredible role with determining what images we associate with "self-care".  Thus many people only associate self care with rituals such as practicing yoga, meditation, lighting candles or taking long baths. But do those practices (that just so happen to be multi-million dollar industries) really have a monopoly on the model for self-care and are those models adequate enough? 

Self-care, as defined by Google, "is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health." Google further defined self-care as, "the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress"

If you have read my blogs then you know I like to lead with the literal definition because regardless of your personal interpretations the definition gives us our starting point and foundation. By simply analyzing the definition I can see how certain multi-million dollar markets have built an entire industry to profit from the ideas of self-care. However, I can also see that the definition does not directly mention nor emphasize any of those external images to be neither a requirement nor prerequisite! Thus I can exclaim that it is all a scam! I'm kidding, however those things are not needed nor required for you to actively practice self-care. Solely using the definition, the only requirement is that you have a set of practices that protects your own well-being and happiness. 

I'll say it again just in case you missed it. Having a set of practices that protect your own well-being is all you need! The literal definition definitely helps us recognize and define self-care, but how can we apply it to our lives? This is where the external images and concepts of self-care come into play! The media has an agenda to define the world around us. However it is my belief that it is our job (within reason) to define those things and we shouldn't rely so heavily on the media to define every aspect of our existence. It is not necessary to follow the trends in order to figure out what works best for you. After all aren't we individuals of higher consciousness?

However, with that being said, it would be a remission on my behalf if I did not acknowledge that some of those trends are backed by scientific study and historical application. In other words, some of those trends and concepts pushed by the media do in fact work for a large number of people. The list of "self-care" activities and industries are numerous. Popular practices such as, yoga, meditation, exercise and holistic diets and other abstract medical practices are pushed to define self-care. However, through some preliminary research, I have discovered that self-care activities can be split into 6 main categories; mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, practical, and social. It is my position that these categories are not finite, and activities may or may not be limited to one category. Meaning that one activity can be shared between multiple categories within this model. So lets jump into these categories and evaluate which category resonates with you the most. 

1. Mental Self-Care: Mental self-care can be activities that are mentally stimulating or ones that allow you to take care of your mental state. Activities that fall in line with this category include; playing games, journaling, blogging, or practicing kindness to yourself. 

2. Emotional self-care: Emotional self care includes taking time for your emotions, or doing pleasurable activities. At first glance it sounds quite similar to mental self-care, and it can be. In fact they aren't dichotomous. Activities in this category may include; counseling, therapy, playing with an emotional support animal, or performing any relaxation activities that help you clam your emotions! 

3. Spiritual self-care: Spiritual self-care will be different depending on your spiritual beliefs but might include mediation,praying, reading/researching sacred texts, or going to church. 

4. Physical self-care: Physical self-care includes popular activities such as; exercise, hiking, biking, lifting weights, or practicing yoga. There is another aspect to this category that many overlook and that is dieting. Making sure you eat well and that your diet is balanced can be the best form of physical self-care! 

5. Practical self-care: Practical self-care is typically about your life and what you need to do in a more logistical or practical sense, such as working on de-cluttering or tackling something challenging on your to-do list. Maintaining goals, setting boundaries and self evaluation are all practices of "practical self-care". Activities such as removing yourself from tempting or toxic situations can also be included in this category. Yes self evaluation and holding yourself accountable can be unpleasant but it is most certainly a category of self-care. 

6. Social self-care: Social self-care uses friends and others to help take care of yourself. This would be engaging in activities that include others or allow you to be social. Many assume self-care is a solitary experience, and it most certainly can be, but it doesn't always have to be. In fact depending on your situation and anxiety level it might be best that you are not isolated and alone. 

Everyone's self-care routine or set of practices will look different depending on their areas of need. When discussing self-care I like to remind people to make sure that you take care of body, mind, and spirit. All of these parts of you likely need attention and care to not only help you feel complete but to help you grow and advance as an individual. No matter which set of practices you choose, it is important to remember that self-care is not selfish, however it can be used as an excuse to be selfish. Self-care is not ignoring the feeling and opinions of loved ones around you. Self-care is not an excuse to mistreat others for selfish desires or personal gain. Self-care is simply what the term states; care of ones-self. 


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