Self Care Focus: Physical Self Care

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Just over a month ago, I wrote a post about the different types of self care where I discuss nine different kinds of self care that are all important for wellness. Having good self care is more than just occasionally taking an evening off to binge your favorite show, or taking a luxurious bath. It is a mindset. It is a collection of small habits that you do on a regular basis to maintain your health and happiness.

My approach to improving myself care is to make small changes, on a weekly basis, to help me form habits that will help me feel healthy, energized, motivated and happy. Of course, I use my bullet journal to keep track of these changes, and to reflect on my progress.

This week, I am focusing on improving my physical self care.

What is Physical Self Care?

To quote my own blog post:

“Physical self care is one of the more obvious categories [of self care]. It is likely when you think of ‘self care’ at least one of the first things you think of will be in this category. This is the care of our physical bodies. This can include things like: exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, skin care, beauty, stretching, rest, medical and dental appointments, medicine, and pain management.”

Take a moment to reflect on your own physical self care. Are there any obvious gaps in how well you are presently taking care of your body? Do you need more sleep? More movement? Better nutrition?

For myself, I take a 25 minute walk several times a week and I do a 12 minute stretching/yoga routine three times a week. I also pack my lunch everyday and I eat most of my dinners at home. I try to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies into my daily meals. I frequently floss, and I see the dentist every 6 months. I see my doctor at least annually, if not more often. I try to maintain a somewhat consistent sleep schedule too.

There are definitely many ways I can improve my physical self care routine, but it’s also important to acknowledge the good things I am doing! So…yay for all of the above! I feel like there is room for improvement in all the areas of my physical self care with the exception of perhaps making and keeping routine appointments. However, there is one thing in particular that I’ve been wanting to work on lately.

My New Physical Self Care Habit Goal

As I said before, good self care is a collection of small everyday habits that make you feel better. This week I’ve added one new goal to my to do list- form a better hydration habit!

I do drink water and I typically have water with me. However, I don’t drink as much as I’d like to. Drinking a certain amount of water a day (such as 8 glasses) or trying to drink as much water as you can isn’t useful or healthy despite the common myths surrounding it (https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/how-much-water/). My problem is that I’m not always drinking when I’m thirsty.

I check-in with myself often throughout the day to record my brain state, emotions, etc… as part of my work with EBT. One of the things I record is physical states or body sensations such as hunger, thirst, feeling too hot and anxiety symptoms. I’ve noticed I record “thirsty” quite a bit. I think I need to do a better job of noticing, acknowledging and responding to thirst.

I’m currently testing out an app that tracks water intake, but I might come up with another way of working on this habit. Mainly, I just need to remind myself to drink more often.

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Other Physical Self Care Ideas

Hydration might not be an issue for you, but there’s likely something else you can do to improve your physical self care. Here are some other ideas:

  1. Keep a record of what you eat for a couple days. Also record how hungry you were before you started eating and any other activities or emotions. Make some observations about your logs.

  2. Track how many servings of fruits and veggies you eat daily for a week. Average it. The following week aim to get that average one higher than it was the week before.

  3. Look up what a serving of fruit and veggies looks like.

  4. Make a list of fruits and veggies that your really enjoy. Use it for inspiration when you go shopping.

  5. Find a few new healthy recipes to try, or start a healthy recipe board on Pinterest.

  6. If you track your steps, look at your average daily step count. Try to increase that next week by 500.

  7. Start taking an extra 20 minute walk each week.

  8. Find an exercise you can do at home (hula-hooping, an exercise machine, etc…) and schedule a weekly session.

  9. Increase your normal exercise routine by 5 minutes.

  10. Think of something you enjoy doing that requires movement (playing basketball, swimming, geocaching, playing Pokemon Go) and make plans to do that.

  11. Track and/or log your sleep. Make some observations.

  12. Establish a bedtime.

  13. Setup an evening routine that helps you fall asleep.

  14. Try meditating before sleep to increase your quality of sleep.

  15. Adjust your thermostat settings so that you are cooler when you sleep.

  16. Make a doctor’s appointment- either an annual check-up or for an ongoing problem you’ve been having.

  17. Make a dentist appointment.

  18. Refill a prescription.

  19. Ask a doctor for suggestions on treating an ongoing problem such as allergies.

  20. Make an appointment to get a massage.

  21. Floss every day.

  22. Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush heads.

  23. Ask your dentist for suggestions on how to improve your dental hygiene- perhaps getting an electric toothbrush or using a flouride mouthwash.

  24. Start a skin care routine.

  25. Moisturize regularly.

  26. Get your haircut.

  27. Change your hairstyle.

  28. Find time to rest- take a relaxing bath, sit on the porch or take a nap.

  29. Replace an item of clothing or shoes that no longer fits or isn’t comfortable.

  30. Make your own list of physical self care activities.

Will you be taking the time to improve your physical self care this week? How? Let me know in the comments!

Types of Self Care: A Comprehensive Look at Self Care

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I’ve become increasingly interested in self care recently. I want to feel happier and healthier, and proper self care seems to be the best path forward for that journey. I want to create some weekly self care goals in my bullet journal. While I could write a long list of all the different activities that would be good self care for me, I wanted to make sure I was considering all my options. Were there self care activities that I wasn’t thinking of that would be beneficial for me?

As always, I did my research! What I found was that self care touches on all aspects of life and that I probably would not have considered all these areas. Or if I did, I wouldn’t have had a balance between them.

I started with the simplest question- What is self care? According to Merriam-Webster, it is “Care of oneself.” Um...I could’ve guessed that much, thanks. I think you pretty much used the word in the definition there, and a teacher would have taken points off of you, Merriam. Google told me “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” or “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health”. Now there is a proper definition, thank you!

Those definitions cover a pretty broad area. We need to consider our own health, happiness and well-being. Even on their own, those three areas (health, happiness and well-being) are complicated with a bunch of factors contributing to them. What factors should we look at? Here’s where the self care categories come into play. I consulted six websites and found a lot of overlapping information, but with some variety too. I’ve consolidated the information I found into the following list, and added my own examples. You can explore my sources in the links at the bottom if you’d like a second (or third, or fourth, etc...) take on this information.

Types of Self Care

1) Physical- Physical self care is one of the more obvious categories. It is likely when you think of “self care” at least one of the first things you think of will be in this category. This is the care of our physical bodies. This can include things like: exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, skin care, beauty, stretching, rest, medical and dental appointments, medicine, and pain management. If you’d like to improve your physical self care try setting a goal like one of these:

  1. Increasing your daily step count

  2. Setting a bedtime

  3. Eating 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables daily

  4. Establishing a skin care routine

  5. Making an appointment to see a doctor about a medical issue that concerns you

2) Emotional or Psychological- This is self care as it relates to your emotional and mental health. This involves being aware of your emotions- recognizing, honoring, accepting and feeling them. Activities in this area might include: crying, laughing, therapy (including traditional talk, EBT, CBT and others), self awareness, journaling, mood tracking, art, self compassion, meditations, gratitude journaling, mindfulness and being aware of your own triggers. Examples of goals you could set for emotional self care include:

  1. Making an appointment to see a therapist (you do not have to wait for someone to diagnosis you with something, talking with a therapist on a regular basis is just as important as getting a physical checkup with a PCP)

  2. Read a book such as “Wired for Joy” or download a CBT-style workbook

  3. Journal for five minutes every night

  4. Each day identify three things you are grateful for- you can’t duplicate them, so keep a log and be specific

  5. Find websites or apps that explain meditation, mindfulness or self compassion and complete a daily exercise in one of those areas.

3) Spiritual- Spiritual self care does not mean religion, which is good since I’m an atheist. Spiritual self care focuses on providing meaning and purpose, and increases your humanity. Some activities might include: donating time or money to important causes or charities, learning about different cultures, religious activities, spending time in nature, meditation, anything that helps you get perspective, gardening, bonsai, alone time, visiting historical places and learning about history. Activities that can help your improve your spiritual self care might include:

  1. Visit a local museum and learn something

  2. Volunteer

  3. Take a walk in nature

  4. Read a book from another religion

  5. Travel to a foreign country

4) Intellectual/Mental- Intellectual self care is to nourish the mind, to prevent it from getting bored and to keep the brain healthy by learning new things. Some activities might include learning, puzzles, games, reading, hobbies, professional activities, career development and critical thinking skills. Some examples of things you can do include:

  1. Research ways to improve your critical thinking skills

  2. Play a resource management game such as Settlers of Catan or Two Point Hospital

  3. Listen to a science podcast such as Science Vs.

  4. Read a book about a topic you are interested in

  5. Do a crossword

5) Social- Social self care involves interacting with other humans in a positive way. Humans are social creatures and, even those of us who are introverted, need to feel connected to other humans. This may include activities in areas such as having meaningful and healthy relationships, support groups, clubs, friend gatherings, setting boundaries, and being intentional about our social interaction. Family relationships are not included in this category. It is important to socialize outside your family.Things you could do to improve social self care may include:

  1. Making an effort to improve your relationship with coworkers

  2. Writing or calling a friend whom you haven’t been in touch with recently

  3. Arranging a game or movie night

  4. Joining a club or other recreational organization

  5. Arranging a weekend trip with close friends.

6) Environmental/Sensory- Environmental and sensory self care involves making your surrounding environment comfortable for you. This might involve things having to do with your five senses, climate control, the tidiness of the space around and the appeal of your local environment. Ways to improve this area might be to:

  1. Light a candle with your favorite fragrance and put on fun or soothing music.

  2. Declutter and clean a shelf in your living room.

  3. Decorate your work area with a plant or favorite picture.

  4. Invest in a good desk chair.

  5. Wash your sheets, change your air filter, and vacuum often if you have allergies.

7) Play/Fun/Joy- An aspect of self care that you may not consider is having fun! Finding moments of play throughout the day keep us energized, motivated and optimistic. We enjoy having fun and we aren’t our best if we aren’t finding enough of it. This includes any activities you truly enjoy- watching a movie, participating in a hobby, watching television, going out with friends, playing games, reading etc...Here are some ideas of ways you can improve this area of self care:

  1. Consider your work-life balance. If you feel like you are working too hard and finding no time for fun, reprioritize.

  2. Intentionally watch a tv show. Flipping channels when you are tired or putting something on in the background doesn’t count. Find a show you really enjoy and set time aside to do just that.

  3. Play a board game you’ve never tried before

  4. Add to a collection or organize it

  5. Put “play a video game” on your to-do list

8) Family/relational- This category includes your relationships with those whom you consider family. Family might include your blood relatives, your pets, your spouse, friends you’ve had since you were tiny or friends of the family that you treat like family. It also can include family planning, if you plan to expand your family at some point. Here are some ideas for working on family self care:

  1. Schedule a family game night.

  2. Call a parental figure you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

  3. Create a family photo album

  4. Look into adopting a new pet (even something as small as a fish or rodent)

  5. Using either your DNA or information from your family, start researching your ancestors and genetic connections.

9) Safety & Security- This area of self care considers your risk of harm from others, preparedness in an emergency situation, and other practical concerns. This might involve insurance, finances, self defense, risk assessment, gathering resources and increasing your ability to be independent. In extreme situations, this may involve extricating yourself from an unsafe environment (such as in the case of domestic violence), breaking an addiction, or seeking legal help. Some less extreme examples might include:

  1. If you live with someone, take a moment to consider the possibility of suddenly being on your own. Do you have the means to support yourself? Are there any activities that your partner, roommate or family member does that you might want to learn how to do? What can you do to prepare from a practical standpoint?

  2. Check to make sure you have smoke detectors in enough places in your home. Do they need new batteries? Should the be replaced? Do you need carbon monoxide detectors?

  3. Take a self defense course.

  4. Open a savings account.

  5. Review your home and/or auto insurance.

Sources:

https://themighty.com/2017/11/types-of-self-care-for-mental-health/

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/05/the-7-vital-types-of-self-care/

https://tulipandsage.com/2018/11/08/6-types-of-self-care-ways-to-practice-them/

http://lunanimafox.com/blog/self-care-types

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shyness-is-nice/201403/seven-types-self-care-activities-coping-stress

https://www.coffeewithsummer.com/self-care/dimensions-of-self-care/



What areas of self care do think you need to work more on? If you want more blog posts related to self care be sure to check off the “self care” option in the poll in the sidebar! If you’d like me to go more in depth with each category of self care in future posts, comment below.