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From Burnout to Balance: A Blueprint for Holistic Self-Care

2023.12.21

by:  Samantha Jones

In my line of work, I encounter clients almost daily who admit to neglecting self-care. When I ask, “When’s the last time you gave yourself some love?” their reactions vary from laughter to rhetorical questions like “What’s that?”

The importance of taking care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, is often absent from school teachings. Growing up, I never heard my mom or other adults say, “Make sure you take care of yourself first.” Instead, the prevailing idea was to focus on others and consider yourself later.

It wasn’t until I went through a spiritual awakening that I realized how crucial self-care truly is. A lot of people view it as selfish, but nothing could be further from the truth. It reminds me of the safety instructions on an airplane—put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.

Self-care isn’t complicated; it’s about doing things that make you feel good. It could be anything from going for a walk, taking time for a hobby, or simply relaxing. Let’s explore various ways to take care of yourself in different aspects of your life—physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially.

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Physical self-care includes actions that promote optimal body function. Engaging in regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, and attending to personal hygiene are fundamental examples. Personally, I find joy in activities like massages and pedicures. We all have our thing, right? When I suggest these to clients, cost often comes up as a barrier. A couple of budget-friendly tips for massages: visit a massage school for amazing massages at half the price, and check Groupon or other discount sites for deals—they often have many.

It is essential to emphasize that physical self-care extends beyond the conventional. It involves tuning in to your body’s signals, recognizing when rest is needed, and treating yourself with kindness during illness or fatigue. A warm bath, a nourishing meal, or even a simple stretch can be transformative.

Emotional self-care is extremely important for maintaining overall health. Recognizing and expressing emotions, setting boundaries, engaging in joyous activities, and seeking support from friends or professionals are examples of emotional self-care.

Mindful journaling, creative expression through art, or engaging in a favorite hobby are additional avenues for emotional self-care. It’s not just about addressing negative emotions but also about cultivating positive ones. Creating a list of things that bring joy and consciously incorporating them into your routine can significantly contribute to emotional well-being.

Mental self-care differs from emotional self-care. As I’ve gotten older, I notice my brain isn’t processing things as it used to. For a while, I thought my hearing was declining, but I’ve found that sometimes when someone says something, it takes longer for me to process what they are saying than it did when I was young. I can’t reply as quickly as I used to, and I feel like I forget things quicker than in my younger years. Taking time for activities that stimulate your mind, such as reading, playing games, learning new skills, or practicing mindfulness and meditation, helps keep your brain healthy. Stimulating our brains is crucial, especially as we age.

In addition to these activities, it’s worthwhile to engage in cognitive challenges. Puzzles, brain games, or learning a new instrument are excellent ways to keep your mental faculties sharp. Cognitive self-care involves not just maintaining but enhancing your mental acuity.

One aspect of my life that I didn’t realize was a self-care issue until I was older is Social self-care. Building and maintaining healthy relationships, connecting with others, and fostering a support system can benefit many areas of your life. I’m an introvert and love to be alone. I could stay at home with my husband and dogs for days and not come in contact with people, thinking that’s perfectly healthy. The fact is, it’s not. It’s important for various reasons to have relationships and friends in our lives.

Social self-care involves not only the quantity but also the quality of interactions. Investing time in deepening connections, expressing gratitude, and regularly connecting with loved ones can significantly impact your social well-being. Actively participating in social activities, even on a smaller scale, contributes to a more balanced and fulfilling life. On the flip side, avoiding people who hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself is also a form of self-care. Don’t be afraid to assert your boundaries; not everyone may understand, and that’s okay. One of my favorite mottos is “You be you!”

Spiritual self-care is one many don’t talk about, but it’s important. We all have our own beliefs, and that’s okay. We should respect each other’s spiritual or religious beliefs. Spiritual self-care helps individuals connect with their inner selves, find meaning and purpose, and cultivate a sense of peace and balance. It provides a source of strength during challenging times and contributes to overall well-being. Engaging in spiritual self-care often involves practices like meditation, prayer, or mindfulness, which can reduce stress, enhance emotional resilience, and promote a positive outlook on life. It also fosters a deeper understanding of your values and beliefs, leading to a more authentic and fulfilling life. Additionally, spiritual well-being is closely linked to mental and physical health, forming a holistic approach to self-care.

Exploring various spiritual practices and finding what resonates with you is a dynamic aspect of spiritual self-care. Whether it’s connecting with nature, exploring different philosophies, or dedicating time to reflection, these practices can be deeply enriching.

We often forget to apply self-care to our careers and professional lives as well. Many people I know work ridiculously long hours and still have to juggle a family, social life, and self-care on top of that. Balancing work demands, setting realistic goals, and knowing when to take breaks to avoid burnout are all part of self-care.

Professional self-care involves not only time management but also boundary-setting. Learning to say no when necessary, seeking opportunities for professional development, and creating a conducive work environment are integral components of career self-care.

In the grand scheme of things, those who dismiss self-care as selfish or unnecessary might be the ones in need of it the most. In an era dominated by the pervasive push for synthetic medications to alleviate things like anxiety and depression, embracing a more holistic approach becomes not just important but imperative. Taking the reins of our well-being through proactive and continuous self-care is more than a necessity; it’s a profound investment in our overall health. It’s a mindful practice that nurtures diverse facets of ourselves, crafting a resilient foundation for a healthy and fulfilling life.

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