Honestly, so much of self-care isn’t the cute, filtered Instagram story version that we usually see. The stuff that makes a difference usually takes place behind the scenes and focuses on more than just the physical. We’re talking about all aspects of ourselves, which includes how we think, feel, move and connect. Creating a self-care practice that you’ll feel real benefits from requires a holistic approach that’s consistent and tailor-made just for you, as there’s not a one-size fits all approach. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Write some ideas down
We’ve all been there, on a Thursday evening deciding what film to watch on Netflix, and being so overwhelmed by the choice, that we fail to watch anything. The same is true of self-care as when you’re in the moment and wanting to do something, it can be really hard to think of a practice or activity to do. Plan ahead by writing down a list of things that you love doing in the below categories:
This is all about tending to your physical body. Some of us focus too much on our physical selves, while others may feel disconnected or prone to neglecting their bodies. So, we can see physical self-care as a way to bring our bodies into greater balance. The body can store so much tension, stress and trauma, so activities where you can listen to what your body is telling you can be incredibly healing. Shift from the idea of exercising and working out to simply moving your body. This can feel more expansive when thinking about what activities you might like to do. Physical self-care can include walking meditations, yoga, dancing, boxing or just moving your body in a joyful way. It can also look like massages, body scan meditations, stretching or being barefoot on the earth or sand.
Looking at our mental wellbeing is all about the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. It’s our thought processes, stress response and how we handle and process what happens to us on the daily. Some really beneficial ways of incorporating mental self-care into your routine is by working with a therapist, using affirmations and examining limiting beliefs and any fears that are holding you back in a journal. Meditation is the big one here. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate, there’s a style of meditation for everyone, so you can work with a meditation teacher who’ll help you to find one to suit you. You can also dedicate some time every week to trying out a new meditation style, whether it’s guided, breath or mantra based.
This is all about the feels when we work with our emotional landscape. Real talk, emotional self-care can just be owning that we’re human and with that comes a whole spectrum of emotions. Allow yourself to feel all of them, whether that looks like giving yourself permission to release them by crying, shaking, breathwork or dancing. Focus on prioritising your needs, which might look like playing games on your phone to connect with your inner child to setting boundaries with people. Forgiveness is huge here, whether you’re forgiving yourself or others, it can be a huge weight to release the energy of holding onto that. Soothing the nervous system can also include touch, whether this is with yourself or through intimacy and hugs with others. Using your journal to let go and process emotions can be really nourishing, as are long baths and restorative yoga.
Tuning into our spiritual side is all about our connection to everything that’s both within and outside of us. Whether you call this the universe, spirit guides, your higher self, spirit, divine or God. The focus here is on the practices that we use to connect to this and the guidance it can give us in our everyday lives. For you, a self-care practice might start with exploring what spirituality means to you. If you want to take it a step further then try booking in for a tarot reading or reiki session. While self-directed practices can include working with crystals, moon rituals, working with the energy of the zodiac sign each month and deeper meditations. A great way to begin is with a daily gratitude practice, just write out 3 things that you’re grateful for in your journal at the end of the day.
Step two: Make a plan
Once you’ve taken some inspiration from the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self-care categories, now’s the time to actually plan them in. We rarely break our arrangements to spend time with friends or anything else in our calendars, so treat yourself in the same way. Try and commit to one practice from each of the four categories per week, pop them in your diary and take it from there. With time, you can do this in more of an intuitive way and feel into which category needs more attention for you at any given time.