Taking care of yourself is not indulgence, it’s a necessity for good mental health.
Self-care is a sustained and intentional practice to preserve wellness and maintain wholeness in being. Many times we place ourselves last on the list — or not on the list at all. We ask, “Is it not selfish to put yourself first?”
How can we care for others if we never take a moment for ourselves? It is self-FULL to be first, to be as good as possible to you, to take care of you and to be emotionally stable and healthy. That doesn’t mean disregarding everything and everyone else. It simply means not running on empty emotions, creating a breeding ground for mental health issues like emotional masking, impulsive decision-making, isolation, depression, anxiety, overeating/under-eating and suicide ideation.
So many of us pour ourselves out for others in hopes of being in their good graces, seeking constant affirmation and trying to score points as though we are earning stars on a behavior chart or a prize on Friday from the treat basket. Giving, to the degree of sacrificing who we are, becomes a crucifixion of our inner being. Never feel ashamed or guilty for taking care of yourself. Remember that it’s necessary in order to fulfill your life’s purpose.
Eight key areas of wellness are a great place to start when creating a self-care regimen. All eight dimensions are connected and keep our lives balanced. These dimensions of wellness are: emotional, soul, body, finance, environmental, occupational, social, and intellectual.
1. EMOTIONAL WELLNESS
Emotional wellness focuses on the ability to cope effectively with life and build satisfying relationships with others.
2. SOUL WELLNESS
Soul wellness is related to values and beliefs that help us find meaning and purpose in life. Soul wellness may come from activities like volunteering, self-reflection, meditation, prayer or spending time in nature. Signs of strong spiritual health include having clear values, a sense of self-confidence and a feeling of inner peace.
3. PHYSICAL WELLNESS
Physical wellness is affected by physical activity, healthy eating and adequate sleep.
4. FINANCIAL WELLNESS
Financial wellness is a feeling of satisfaction with your financial situation. Finances are a common stressor, so minimizing worry about this aspect of your life can enhance your overall wellness. Options for managing financial wellness include making a household budget, starting a savings account (and adding to it every month, even if it is just a small amount), creating an emergency account, cutting back or limiting unnecessary expenses and avoiding credit card debt.
5. ENVIRONMENTAL WELLNESS
Environmental wellness is related to a person’s surroundings. This dimension of health connects overall well-being to the health of your environment. Your environment, both social and natural, can have a significant impact. Feeling good can prove hard in cluttered, unsafe or disorganized surroundings.
6. OCCUPATIONAL WELLNESS
Occupational wellness is a sense of satisfaction with your choice of work. Occupational wellness involves balancing work and leisure time, building relationships with coworkers and managing workplace stress.
7. SOCIAL WELLNESS
Social wellness is a sense of connectedness and belonging. The social dimension of health involves creating and maintaining a healthy support network. Building a healthy social dimension might involve joining a club or organization, setting healthy boundaries, using good communication skills that are assertive rather than passive or aggressive, being genuine and authentic with others and treating others respectfully.
8. INTELLECTUAL WELLNESS
Intellectual wellness involves recognizing your unique creative talents and seeking out ways to use your knowledge and skills. When intellectual wellness is high, a person participates in activities that cultivate mental growth.
Make lifestyle changes that result in an expanded sense of purpose, greater self-care and finding meaning in life through healthier coping skills. Cultivate a lifestyle that sustains you for the long term in all eight areas of wellness. We have the power to create a personal environment conducive to self-care, health and well-being.
Shelia Rivers is owner and chief licensed certified social worker with Rivers Psychotherapy Services. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.