As the New Year rolls around, many of us are reflecting on the past year and considering what we want to focus on during this next trip around the sun. As I’ve spoken with clients and thought about my own goals, the topic of holistic, well-rounded self-care has come up regularly. Self-care is paying attention to and making good choices for your mind, body, soul, and spirit. Without being aware of this, we risk falling into complacency, remaining stuck in unhealthy patterns, and hindering our ability to live the kind of story we want to experience.
As you think about what kind of life you want to live this year, it can be helpful to separate the areas of your life into different categories in order to properly assess and plan. Here are seven common categories of self-care, questions to ask in each area, and possible strategies:
- Physical — Are you eating well, sleeping well, drinking enough water, and getting enough physical activity? Possible growth steps could include decreasing your sugar intake, setting a consistent bedtime, or making a commitment to exercise 3 times a week.
- Emotional — Are you noticing and processing your emotions in a way that is healthy for you? Possible growth steps could include starting an emotion tracking journal or developing a healthy outlet for expressing feelings.
- Mental — Does your thought life reflect the kind of person you want to be this year? Are you speaking as kindly to yourself as you would to others? Possible growth steps could include choosing a word or phrase to focus on for the year and placing reminders for yourself in a variety of places.
- Spiritual — Are you taking time to connect with something greater than yourself? Whatever your belief system, possible growth steps could include prioritizing spiritual, religious, or meditative activities or being part of a community that focuses on the greater good.
- Social/Relational — Do you regularly spend time connecting with others? Are you taking enough time for yourself? This balance will look different for everyone, but possible growth steps could include making plans with friends a few times a month or taking one night a week to stay in and enjoy quiet solitude.
- Occupational — Do you enjoy your daily work (student, boss, employee, stay-at-home parent, etc.)? Are you satisfied with your work/life balance? Possible growth steps could include making a plan to advance in your career or regularly scheduling fun or relaxing activities throughout your week.
- Intellectual — Is your intellect being challenged at the right level? Depending on what life stage you are in, possible growth steps could include reading an article or book on a new topic or learning a new skill.
Each individual’s plan for self-care can look different; the most important thing is that it suits you and supports your development into the healthy human being you desire to be.
Audrey Aukeman | MA, LLPC