A Checklist for Deep Self-Care (And Why You Need It)
In a culture that prizes itself on the ability to multi-task and push to the limit, self-care has often been scoffed at as weakness or self-indulgence. It’s not.
Despite this, self-care has become a serious buzz word. Like most buzzwords, the depth of the concept is often overlooked.
It’s multi-dimensional, incorporating the mental, emotional, physical, relational and spiritual aspects of yourself.
It’s something you deserve; a radical strategy for surviving, thriving, and feeling empowered in an often demanding and overwhelming world.
Through these types of deep self-care, you can balance the stresses on your system and be more present in your life.
Getting enough sleep and exercise might seem a predictable place to start. However, sleep protects against chronic disease, supports healthy brain function and emotional regulation. Exercise, aside from the obvious benefits, boosts serotonin and dopamine, and helps productivity, creativity, and self-confidence.
Also, receiving all the nutrients you need each day fortifies your body against illness and fatigue and has a big impact on mental and emotional health. Eating regular balanced meals, low on sugar and processed ingredients, is a broad and easy benchmark to use. And don’t forget your 8 glasses of water a day!
Finally, and linking to our next point (since self-care is holistic): Choose one or a combination of mindful relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, and breath-work are all ways of checking into your body/mind connection, discovering how you store your emotions and stresses, and helping you to release them.
These two categories have been combined because the distinctions between them, when it comes to self-care, are slim. They are all strategies that allow you to feel internally balanced and clear-headed.
Engaging in creative hobbies lets you use a different part of your brain, calms the nervous system, and brings back a sense of play to your life. Do whatever excites you, and you’ll find the time for it.
A daily reflective journal, alongside gratitude and forgiveness lists, is a lot more potent than it sounds. It provides one safe way to make room for your emotions and thoughts, and can act as a protective touchstone in negative or stressful moments.
Disowning or repressing parts of your experience is at the root of much emotional distress. When you make space for that experience, you begin to integrate it in a way that helps re-wire your brain, building new neural pathways and greater resilience alongside it.
I am connecting the relational with the spiritual because at the root, both are about fostering a sense of connection and a perspective beyond yourself. Feeling alienated or isolated is at the root of much unhappiness.
Community is powerful, whether you are inclined toward participating in a spiritual or religious group, a neighborhood garden, or engaging in acts of service (or all three). These are all ways of feeling threaded into a larger web which is beyond your immediate circle.
Prioritizing close relationships in your life, where you feel seen, heard and loved, can be the most impactful of all self-care strategies. Studies show this is an essential marker of wellbeing throughout life.
And don’t forget. Sometimes you can’t fit all or any of these practices in. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Nothing is more detrimental to self-care than guilt. Do what you can, when you can. If that means picking one thing for each day, or each week, then do it. Find a way to make it work for you. Self-care is, at its core, figuring out how to best check-in with and support yourself.
To wrap things up, here is a self-care worksheet to get yourself going!