Psychology of Self-Care

So, what is self-care?

Self-care is the mindful taking of time to pay attention to yourself, ensuring you are being cared for by yourself. Incorporating self-care routines into your everyday life helps serve as an armour to protect the energy you need to survive and thrive.

Psychological self-care involves learning, thinking, and growing based on activities that might include personal and professional development. Psychological self-care goes a long way in managing stress and helps you live your best life. Emotional, mental, and spiritual self-care will boost your self-esteem and your self-image, and when you’re paying attention to your own needs, you’re more productive, less stressed, and a more confident person.

Just like physical self-care, psychological self-care will keep your thoughts and emotions in check and a good state of well-being, allowing you to bloom. Both your mental and physical health are intertwined and crucial to any self-care plan. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing are refreshing and relaxing ways to unwind your body and mind.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, we have an epidemic of anxiety and depression all over the world; everybody feels it in some form. People are feeling lonelier than ever and are less able to unwind and slow down, which is where anxiety and overwhelm show up. Self-care is part of the answer to how we can all learn to keep up with the pace of daily life.

Self-care activities can affect your mental state in many ways. Without it, we are prone to depression, resulting in a loss of appetite, a drop in motivation, zero energy, low self-confidence and self-esteem. Anxiety can also result from not looking after our bodies and our minds, and stress can be a factor too. Psychological self-care is taking steps to tend to your physical and emotional health needs to the best of your ability, which will block all these nasties from showing up in our lives.

Self-care should not be something you do only when you have the time, nor should it be a reward that can only be gained once other tasks are completed. If practised correctly, self-care will become an integral part of your life, helping both your physical and mental health, being the foundation for your overall well-being. It is not an indulgence, it’s an essential component of preventing burnout and stress. It’s not something ‘nice’ to do if you have the time, it’s not selfish, and it’s definitely not a waste of time.

Here are 5 self-care practices for every area of your life:

Physical wellness is the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which allows us to live our lives and get through our days without tiredness or physical stress. We must get the exercise our body needs to stay fit, with our heart rate up and our blood pumping. Living a healthy physical lifestyle releases endorphins and serotonin (happy hormones), which improve our moods and energy levels, helping keep our mindset in check. Physical self-care also includes how you’re fuelling your body with good food and how much sleep you’re getting. You’ll feel, think, and look better.

> Social Self-Care
Social wellness is the ability to relate to and connect with other people in your life. Our ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers contributes to our social wellness and the people we meet in the coffee shops, in the supermarket and on the street. It involves using good communications skills, having meaningful relationships, respecting others and ourselves, and creating a support system of the people in your life in the real world, not on social media.

> Mental Self-Care
According to the World Health Organization, Mental health is defined as ’a state of well-being in which the individual realises their own potential, can cope with the everyday stresses of life, can work productively, and contribute to their community’. Mental health is about being cognitively healthy, the way we think, the way we feel and the way we develop relationships. The way you think and the things you’re filling your mind with greatly influence your psychological well-being, so the aim is always to think happy thoughts. Having social connections, good personal relationships and being part of a community are vital to maintaining a good state of mental well-being.

>Spiritual Self-Care
Spiritual wellness is the search for meaning and purpose in human existence, striving for a state of harmony with oneself and others, with the ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives. The ability to develop a balance between our inner values and our actions and be
mindful of our surroundings in our present tense. Some people use religion and faith to help them find their spiritual place, and others choose meditation, where they live in the present, letting go of the past and not worrying about the future.

>Emotional Self-Care
Emotional wellness is the ability to understand ourselves and cope with the ongoing challenges life can bring. The ability to acknowledge and share feelings of anger, fear, sadness, or stress, plus hope, love, joy and happiness in a productive manner all contributes to our emotional wellness. Being in control of these emotions means you’re observant of your thoughts, behaviour, and feelings, whether positive or negative, accepting them rather than denying them, having a confident and positive approach to life, and enjoying it despite its periodic disappointments and frustrations.

For many years, with depression numbers rising, suicide was the biggest cause of death for men in the UK, 16.1% of 100,000 decided to exit the game early. Now, in 2022 those numbers have dropped, and with help and self-care, we can all feel better about ourselves and our situations and keep ourselves safe.

Talking to someone when you’re low, lending an ear to others will give you purpose, meditate, sit with your emotions, ask yourself questions, pamper yourself, look after your appearance, take yourself out to dinner. Even the littlest act of self-care will tell your brain that you’re trying, that you are aware of your state, that you will be ok.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. We know that a good night’s sleep, regular exercise, and eating well all play a part in a healthy mindset. In addition, being conscious of the way we think, understand our emotions, connect with (real-life) people, and find our inner peace all make us happier and healthier people, which is what self-care aims to achieve.

Sometimes, it takes a few simple and healthy habits to improve our outlook on life. Deciding to create change to our daily lives, getting rid of the habits holding us back and introducing new ones can make us feel so much better and give us such an improvement, which
in turn will make a difference to your life and your health, body, and mind.

You’ve got this.