When I first started studying to become a counselor, my initial thought on self-care was taking a vacation once or twice a year. While that can be fun, enjoyable, restful, and therapeutic, the idea of self-care I discovered is a much broader topic and can encompass several areas of life. One doesn’t have to wait months and spend tons of time and money on planning, scheduling, booking plans, hotels, and automobiles. No, it can actually be the little daily things we carve out time for that help reenergize and refocus us.
A series of little things done daily can help us maintain our mind, body, and spirit in the face of difficulty, adversity, worry, doubt, or fear. Below are six areas that, when attended to, can help us all continue to move forward in life even when the going has gotten tough.
For some, looking after our physical bodies might be the more difficult of all six. But don’t worry; you don’t have to join a gym to help yourself in this area. Never underestimate the power of a hot shower or a good soak in the tub. Simply taking care of our personal hygiene can be a great way to recharge our batteries. Yes, exercise is important, but simply taking a walk around the neighborhood every day can have a lot of benefits. And let’s not forget the importance of getting sufficient sleep and watching our diet.
Our mental self-care can take a lot of different forms as well. Turning off the news can be a great way to lower our stress levels. Replacing the news with a good book or a favorite entertainment can help shift our focus to something enjoyable or thought-provoking.
This is going to be a shameless plug for counseling, but spending time with a trained mental health counselor is an excellent way to process any emotional pain, trauma, or grief you may be experiencing. It can also be a great way to help raise insight into those areas of vulnerability we all have. If counseling is not an option, then a close friend or mentor, someone who can walk with us and help share our burdens, can be very beneficial.
For those who hold to spiritual beliefs, the engagement of faith can be very helpful during difficult times. This can be attending a service or volunteering at a local place of worship, reading scriptures or other faith-based texts, or spending time in prayer or meditation.
Given the circumstances, maintaining interpersonal relationships is sometimes the first area that falls by the wayside, and yet it is so very important to our self-care. And as stated above can have a great positive impact on our emotional well-being. A simple phone call or visit with a friend over coffee or lunch can be just wanted is needed to help you feel connected to life again.
This area might not be as fun as the others, but it is still important to make sure we pay attention to the mundane areas of life, like paying bills, doing laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning, and going to work. Neglect in this area may likely be an indication of a problem in any or all of the other areas. And while it may seem like a chore, I have known many who like taking care of these typical domestic activities, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment when completed.
While I encourage all to try and spend time with each of these areas, please don’t feel like you have to hit each one every day. Instead, I would recommend making a plan and carving out a little time each day for any of these areas paying particular attention to the ones that are most important and beneficial for you. Hopefully, after a little practice and making time for yourself, you will begin to feel a difference in your overall mental, physical, and spiritual health.
MEET MAX MERRITT: Max is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia and works primarily with children and adolescents, but he also enjoys working with adults and couples. Max loves meeting and working with people from all walks of life and has helped clients address many concerns related to ADHD, grief, anxiety, depression, self-harm/suicide, anger management, addiction, relationship concerns, bullying, self-esteem, and career counseling. Max counsels largely from a Cognitive Behavioral and Person-Centered Therapy orientation and also offers both individual and group Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).