Let’s talk about self-care!
By Mary Myketyn Driscoll (she/her),
BHPRO, MHA, Health Promotion Specialist
July 24th is International Self-Care Day and we’re here to celebrate the importance self-care can play in our lives.
What is self-care?
Self-care can be anything we do that helps us feel better, be better, or do better when it comes to our physical, mental, social, emotional, or spiritual health. So, you’re probably thinking – anything? Really?
Let’s think about it for what it is – which is care of the self. When we take care of ourselves, we can try doing small things that take little time and no cost, all the way up to bigger and long-term things that may take more time, energy, and commitment. All of it is considered self-care.
Self-care practices can come from different domains of health and wellness. These practices can be focused on our physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual health.
What is self-care for YOU?
Self-care is for everyone! But your self-care may look different than others because YOU are different and have a unique set of needs, likes, and wants. It’s important that you reflect and find what self-care means to you and what it feels like when you practice it in your everyday life. Self-care practices should also be what you can find sustainable in the life you are living – so starting simple and small can be the way to go if you find it challenging to fit it in.
To reflect on our self-care, we can use questions to help explore our self-care bank and get curious about what else we could do. Try out a few questions from below to see for yourself!
Am I getting enough sleep?
Is my diet fueling my body well?
Am I getting enough movement or exercise?
Am I taking steps to take charge of my health with things I have control over?
Example: not using screens for an hour before bed to help improve sleep
Psychological & Emotional Health
Am I making enough time for activities that mentally stimulate me?
Have I taking steps to proactively stay mentally well before I get to a point of feeling unwell?
Am I making enough time to find healthy ways to process my emotions?
Am I making time for activities that help me feel recharged and that give me energy?
Do I incorporate activities that help me practice gratitude?
Example: journaling as a part of your morning to set intentions or note what you’re grateful for
Am I getting enough time in person with friends?
What am I doing that helps me nurture my relationships with friends and family?
Am I involved in any community or organized groups that keep me connected to others?
Do I have any relationships that cause me stress where I may need to set better boundaries?
Example: making a regularly scheduled time weekly or monthly to call or meet a friend
What am I doing that helps me feel grounded?
Am I making time for activities that help me feel connected to who I am?
Do I have ways to feel connected to my faith and power?
Example: finding a place you feel safe and noticing what you can see, hear, touch, smell & taste
Some Summer Self-Care Ideas
- Opt for the outdoors: try getting out for a walk or exploring a new place in nature!
- Check out your community: see what you can find going on in your neighbourhood, town, or city and find something interesting or fun!
- See the sunrises and sunsets: appreciate the beauty of the sunrise as an early bird or find the sunset and soak in the magic of golden hour!
- Clean out the car: tidy spaces can be soothing for some and that can come from taking some time in your week to clean up a space you use a lot!
- Set up summer tunes for sunny drives: putting a feel good playlist together can be the perfect addition for a nice summer drive to relax and decompress!
- Experience the exercise endorphins: daily exercise or movement can be just what the body and mind need to increase some of the happy neurotransmitters and make us feel better!
- Get out in the garden: try gardening to connect with the earth, nurture and see growth, and have the payoff of your own fruits, vegetables, and flowers!
- Make mocktails: beat the summer heat with refreshing and fun drinks that you can get all family and friends involved in!
- (Re)fresh with seasonal fruits: berries, peaches, pears, and apples are all grown well locally and can be found at the u-picks for a fun adventure or as a market find.
When is it not about self-care?
Self-care is not a cure for mental illness or severe mental distress. Self-care can be one part of strategies one uses to manage their mental health and stress. You should seek professional help if you’re experiencing sudden changes or chronic difficulties with sleeping, appetite, weight gain/loss, getting out of bed in the morning due to mood, concentrating, loss of interest in things you typically enjoy, or performing usual functions and responsibilities.