With World Mental Health Day coming up on the 10th of October, we’d like to offer a reminder to anyone who needs to hear it -- self-care is not selfish! We know how difficult it is to carry responsibilities in different areas of life: family, work, friends, school, household chores, and on and on. But it really is true that when you’re running on empty, something’s got to give.
Self-care is so much more than a buzzword. The reason why people are talking more about our self-care needs is because we’re all starting to realize that taking "me time" is essential. Struggling does not mean you’re weak; it means you’re human, just like the rest of us! So, as fellow humans who struggle to find balance, we’d like to talk about 6 different types of self-care and offer up practical steps and self-care strategies that can help us all give ourselves the attention we deserve.
Our mental health affects how we think, feel and behave. It also helps us make healthy choices, connect with others and handle stressors, big and small. It’s at the root of so many important things that it’s high time we give it the attention it deserves. Let’s all take a break before we reach our breaking point and take small steps to practice self-care today!
We all know what emotions are, but when it comes to connecting with those emotions, we’re not all where we’d like to be. What makes it so hard to connect with and process our emotions? One of the main reasons is that we all have a level of resistance to negative emotions, not giving them our full attention or actively trying to bury them, while we exalt our positive emotions, striving to be or appear to be happy, even when we’re not.
If you think back to childhood, you’ve likely had the experience of hearing, “Don’t be sad,” while you were in a fit of tears. And, even if they were well-intentioned words, feelings are meant to be felt, whether happy and sad. Life comes with ups and downs for all of us, at every age, and we deserve self-compassion through it all.
So, what are some ways we can practice emotional self-care and begin honoring our emotions and recognizing them for what they are? Maybe one of the best ways to get in touch with our emotional well-being is by seeing a therapist or joining a support group, but since therapy isn’t always affordable or accessible, practicing mindfulness is an effective and low-cost way to check in on our feelings. Putting on an informative podcast, journaling, and boxes like CoachCrate can help us do a self-assessment and learn healthy coping skills.
Another side of emotional self-care is finding a source of inspiration. Whether it’s getting out into your garden, creating art, expressing a little more Earthlove or becoming active in a cause that matters to you, finding inspiration can help you do more of what you love––and doing more of what you love brings more joy into your life!
Just like it sounds, physical self-care is all about doing activities that improve our physical health. In addition to improving our daily lives and our longevity, focusing on our health can also give us more energy to tackle our to-do list, help us manage stress better, and even increases our productivity and performance at work. Practicing physical self-care can help us really tune in to our mind-body connection and improve our lives in really powerful ways.
But one thing that’s important to remember––it’s not about sizes, numbers on a scale, or doing your personal best every time you hit the gym. It’s about doing right by your body because you’re worth it! If your physical self-care activities look like smashing those fitness goals, training for a triathlon, or climbing the highest peak in your area, more power to ya! But taking care of your body can also look like walking, stretching, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep at night. These things are just as important (if not more so) for our physical wellness, so it’s okay to start small.
Making sure you get a full eight hours of sleep each night, taking a light bike ride on your lunch break, sipping a nourishing cup of broth, or going all-natural on your skincare routine are simple ways to incorporate physical self-care into your daily life. And, if this is one of the aspects of your life where you feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to get a little help from the pros with clean beauty boxes like Laurel & Reed or healthy snack re-ups from BroteinBox. Whatever you choose, your body will reward you for your efforts!
While lots of practical self-care can feel like a chore, if it’s not overlooked and it's included in your self-care plan, you stand to gain so much. Practical self-care is really about preparation and making sure you’ve done the little things that keep your life running like a well-oiled machine. When the organizational work has been done, you can prevent stressful situations in the future and keep life running smoothly.
What are some of the ways to get practical with our self-care? Well, a good place to start is by taking an inventory of areas of your life where stress creeps in. For many families, this can look like stress in the before-school rush, or difficulties winding down at the end of the night. Making little tweaks to your routines, like making school lunches the night before or diffusing some sleepy-time essential oils before bedtime, while seemingly insignificant, might make things a whole lot easier.
Getting a handle on your household is important to keep things moving forward. Organizing your closet space and getting a system in place for the never-ending stream of laundry can make it all feel doable. Financial self-care matters, too. Money woes require budgeting, saving, and budgeting to save! And, because somebody’s got to say it, meal plans and cooking boxes make it so much easier to eat affordable, healthy meals, not to mention help you focus when you’re already hangry.
Yes, these are all the little things that give us routine headaches, but stay on budget or stick to a meal plan for a month and we dare you not to flaunt it! In fact, ironing out the kinks in everyday life is so satisfying, we think you should plan a monthly reward for yourself with a stress-free dessert (and baking project!) with a box like Whisk Takers.
Part of focusing on mental health is taking care of the mind by treating it to some rewarding stimulation! Mental self-care is any activity that tickles the brain, stimulates the mind and engages your intellect. This is where your personality can shine, because what makes us tick is unique to each of us. Playing games, solving puzzles, going to a local museum or even rearranging furniture in pursuit of the coziest space can all be mentally engaging and bring joy into our lives.
Whether you’re an introvert who prefers to snuggle up in your favorite chair and put your nose in a good book, or an extrovert who enjoys a classic title with a side of cocktails, reading is an integral part of mental self-care for many of us. Routine trips to the library or monthly book boxes can offer a great way to top up your TBR stack and explore new titles in all of your favorite genres.
For some of us, a great way to quiet anxiety and engage the mind in a healthier pursuit is to get crafty with a hands-on project. Take inspiration wherever it comes, letting your creativity flow freely, or explore new techniques and get pro tips with subscriptions like The Adults & Crafts Crate. Self-care for the mind can look like everything from your favorite romance novel to DIY home decor!
You may have heard the saying that self-care means soul care, and that’s certainly a part of it! Spiritual self-care activities are those that nurture your spirit and help connect you to something bigger, no matter what that means to you. For some of us, that will look like a closer connection to God or a creator, and for others, it can look like a spiritual connection, or perhaps a dedicated meditation or yoga practice.
A nice thing about spiritual self-care is that it can be anything from worshipping and devotion to new age mysticism, as long as that practice helps you tune in to the tie that binds us all. Self-care for the faithful may come in the form of daily prayers, Bible study, or spending time each day learning how to center your family around your beliefs. Faith-filled subscription services like The Believer’s Box can help you give back and find ways you can be of service to others.
Nature is often seen by many as the perfect place to practice spiritual self-care. Hiking, fishing, or simply sitting with our feet in the grass watching a pink sunset can be so good at grounding us and connecting us to something bigger. The daily grind has a way of putting us at the center of our own world, which can diminish our connections and increase our stress levels. From crystals and magick to card readings and cleansing baths, spiritual tools and exploration can provide that soul care we all need!
Last, but not least, is social self-care, the type of self-care that helps us deepen bonds and strengthen our relationships. Much like emotional self-care, social self-care is a bit of a double-sided coin. On one hand, you have fulfilling activities, like having date night with your significant other or making time to reach out to long-distance family members to maintain close connections. On the other hand, you have the hard work of setting healthy boundaries to maintain those relationships by clearly communicating your needs and saying "no" when necessary.
How you practice social self-care really depends on what you enjoy to do. If you like to throw a potluck game night with family and friends and engage in some healthy competition, then by all means, let the games begin! If that seems like it might get a little too rowdy, maybe you prefer to call your good friends over for drinks and laughs. Wine boxes and DIY cocktails can strengthen your bonds by offering a shared experience, too, even over Zoom.
Whether it’s Sunday brunch at home, a family trip to the U-Pick apple orchard, or playing a pickup game in the neighborhood, making time to nurture our relationships with those closest to us is essential to our mental health and well-being.