Author: Taylor Musarra
“Rest and self-care are so important.
When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow.
You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” -Eleanor Brown
When you hear the phrase “self-care”, what comes to mind? For some, it may be treating yourself to something nice. For others, it may be taking a trip and exploring somewhere new without any distractions or obligations of the busy world. It could be a spa day, an afternoon away from your phone, or even taking a “mental health” day. Sounds fun, and like something we would want to do, but is it a priority?
Mental health awareness has become more prioritized over the recent years; it’s at “buzzword” status even. Isolation during COVID-19 caused many people to evaluate their own mental health during this time. Work-life balance was now intermingled as many individuals used their home as both their office and a place for living. It was easy to overlook self-care when you felt like there was no space to really implement it. Or when you felt like you were caring for yourself (and others) by simply being home.
Now, post COVID-19, we continuously aim to work on arranging our lives and wellbeing so that we can feel a healthy balance between work and life. The world keeps spinning and often times we may feel like we need to move in conjunction or the earth will fall of its axis and us along with it. It can be so easy to lose ourselves in the midst of a busy life. It can feel overwhelming when priorities shift and when we feel like we can’t ever catch a break. For a lot of us: We often take care of others so much that we forget to take care of ourselves. It can seem selfish, but in reality, it’s far from a selfish thing to do.
“Self-care is done with the intention of caring for yourself, not with the intention to harm or take from others.”– Stephanie Grunewald
So how do we do it? Self-care can be split into four areas.. the things we do to recharge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This can look different for everyone and it should. Each person needs something different in order to replenish themselves fully.
Physical self-care can involve anything that helps to improve your physical well-being. Taking a walk, running, working out, dancing, eating healthier, getting a good amount of sleep, or playing sports are all examples of this. But you might be thinking, “My life is so busy, I don’t have time to do any of that.” While that may be the case, there can be ways to integrate physical self-care even during your busiest days. Things like going to bed a little earlier, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, taking a walk during a phone meeting, or even packing a healthy meal instead of going out to eat during your lunch break can all contribute to ways of implementing physical aspects of self-care in your life.
It can be hard to practice self-care when our bodies are mentally and emotionally exhausted. It can be difficult to turn your attention to yourself when there are so many things going on in both your life and the world around you. But it is important to check in with yourself mentally and emotionally from time to time. Practicing self-care mentally and emotionally can look like numerous things. One of my favorite ways to practice caring for my self is taking part in mindfulness exercises and reminding myself to be present in the moment. You could simply take a moment to ask yourself the question of “How am I feeling right now?” Taking 30 seconds out of your day to focus on deep breathing to help relax yourself can be a great self-care practice. You could even set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day to sit in the quiet and journal or reflect on how you are feeling in the presently.
Next, how do you take care of yourself spiritually? This form of self-care can also look different from person to person. Spirituality is a way to help individuals find a sense of connection whether it be religiously, with others, or with the world around them. It can also help people find a sense of meaning and purpose in their life. Spirituality self-care can involve praying, meditation, deep mindfulness exercises, or even spending time in nature. Checking-in with yourself spiritually by keeping a journal or focusing on your goals and values is another great practice of spiritual self-care.
Self-care will look different for every person. When we learn how to take care of ourselves, we can take better care and serve those around us. It is so easy to lose yourself in life because you are being pulled in a hundred different directions. Prioritizing others can be easier than prioritizing yourself, but I implore you to try to take time to implement self-care in your daily routine. It is important to keep in mind that self-care tasks should not feel like a burden or a chore but rather something you enjoy doing or find peace or pleasure in. Here are some a few great resources to find different self-care practices if you are not sure where to start.
Finally, reaching out to a mental health professional can be another great resource to utilize and an incredible self-care tool. Here at The Refuge Center, we are prepared to walk alongside you through your self-care and healing journey. We can work with you to find that balance between your busy life and prioritizing yourself, while also arming you with strategies to implement better self-care habits that can contribute to a more balanced mental health.
Blog written by Master’s Level Intern, Taylor Musarra
West Tennessee Healthcare. Why self-care is an essential for your mental health. (2021, April 27). https://www.wth.org/blog/why-self-care-is-an-essential-for-your-mental-health/
Restorative Counseling. Is self-care selfish? (2023) https://rcchicago.org/self-care/#:~:text=2)%20Self%2Dcare%20is%20done,resources%20without%20depleting%20someone%20else’s.