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How to approach whole-person self-care

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As we begin to see our new normal emerge in our post-COVID era, you may find that prioritizing yourself is becoming a challenge. The pressure of attending social gatherings or keeping up with professional and personal responsibilities may be present once again but staying committed to your well-being is critical. It’s important to make a conscious effort to carve out time for yourself every day and do something that benefits you and only you.

Self-care allows you to build and maintain the most important relationship in your life – the one you have with yourself. Often, people may feel guilty about prioritizing themselves, but self-care has tremendous benefits to reduce stress, anxiety, and low moods. When you take care of yourself and “fill your cup,” you can be better equipped to handle life’s challenges or responsibilities and even improve your physical health.

When you consider the ways in which you take care of yourself, think about the various components of your overall well-being to look out for – physical and psychological, the latter comprised of both mental and emotional self-care. How can you take care of each area that makes you who you are? Here's how:

Your body is your powerhouse. When you take care of your physical needs, you can prevent potential physical conditions from developing and you reduce the risk of heart diseases, strokes and even cancer. Taking care of your physical health means getting restful sleep, eating nutritious meals and attending regular health checkups with your physician. If you struggle to include physical care as part of your weekly schedule, consider blocking off time in your day to exercise or prepare your meals at home so you can control the ingredients you’re using to fuel your body. By prioritizing this aspect of your health, you’ll see the benefits reflected in your mental and emotional well-being as well.

The way you think, the associations you make, and the conclusions you draw (among others) are all part of your mental health. The practice of acceptance and self-compassion can play a leading role in taking care of your mental health. Acceptance doesn’t mean resigning control or being ‘ok’ with our circumstances - rather, it means that we understand that what we’re going through in a given moment is real and valid. Self-compassion can influence the way you speak to yourself so you can access a positive internal dialogue. Consider the people you surround yourself as well and the kind of news and information you digest on a regular basis.

Emotional self-care deals with developing skills that help you cope with life’s challenges in a healthy way. Taking care of your emotional well-being may look like opening up to a friend or therapist and talking about your feelings. Therapy is also a powerful tool in your toolbox which can serve to maintain or improve your mental health. When you do feel like your mental health is suffering, a therapist can help you through. Another important part of emotional self-care is setting and maintaining boundaries with others. Take some time to think about your own boundaries and the boundaries you need to establish based on what makes you feel drained. Once you get a sense of your boundaries, practice what you’ll want to say to others to communicate these boundaries and prepare for how you’ll handle certain questions and conversation topics when the time comes.

Taking care of ourselves is the key to living a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle. If you’re somebody who experiences feelings of guilt when you prioritize yourself, remember – self-care gives you the energy you need to take care of the other responsibilities in your life, helps you stay calm under pressure and maintain a positive emotional state, increases your ability to focus and reduces the risk of developing physical illnesses.

If you find yourself struggling with taking care of your needs, you can access our therapy programs by visiting our Virtual Mental Health Therapy Clinic. If you are part of our Workplace Mental Health Program, please visit your company page for access to services covered by your workplace.

This article has been reviewed by Kayleigh-Ann Clegg, PhD, Clinical Content Specialist. 

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.