COVID, lockdown, and quarantine have taken a big toll on our mental health and to be honest, the world isn’t the same anymore. The pandemic had its impact on every person across the life span. Everything has become virtual and working from home has now become a lifestyle. It is even difficult now to make time for ourselves. Even before COVID and lockdown, not much awareness of self-care was spread. The working class had always been busy and it seemed impossible to take a day off and reward oneself.
The demand for counselors and psychological services has increased during this time compared to pre-COVID time. In the survey conducted by WHO, 89% of countries reported that psychological support is a part of their national COVID- 19 response plans. Self-care now is no more considered as being selfish and arrogant. It is so important, it rejuvenates our mind and clears the clutter in our body, mind, and soul. It is not just a mere day off where we lay back and take a rest or laze around the whole day. It is to give ourselves a break from the harsh realities of life. Not many realize this but adopting self-care, time and again, has proved to improve work efficiency and productivity.
24th July is celebrated as international self-care day. It is an opportunity to appreciate and give ourselves a break. According to the global self-care federation, the theme for this year’s Self-Care Day focuses on the #SelfCarePromise, encouraging all to make a personal commitment to embrace a specific self-care action.
Self-caring can take many forms – one could seek rehabilitation or medical help, take health checkups, adopting measures to a healthy lifestyle, taking steps to prevent any diseases, promoting or educating on any aspect of a better lifestyle, etc. Self-care has now become a necessity due to the alarming rise in chaos and sophisticated livelihood.
Through this article, we would like to introduce the eight pillars of self-care that are known to bring a sense of wholeness to one’s life. The eight pillars of self-care are – mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, recreational, social, and financial. These eight pillars of self-care, balance our lives and we must make sure that one does not drag down the other.
- Mental self-care: It is about creating a healthy mindset or a lifestyle through mindfulness and retrospection. It focuses on decluttering the mind and leading with a positive mindset. It aims to distress and enhances productivity or creativity or knowledge. Few things that might help boost mental self-care would be journaling or meditating or engaging in mind-related activities or games. Avoiding any kind of technology or internet for a while would help in refreshing the mind. Writing down simple goals for the day or making a list of things one wants to achieve soon can help in a productive and confident day.
- Emotional self-care: Involves taking care of emotional aspects of life. It deals with improving coping strategies we use to tackle mental trauma or emotional issues. It reinforces better emotional responses to develop a healthy self-compassion and strength to face challenges and setbacks. Watching a favorite movie or grooving favorite songs or even writing positive thoughts and self-affirmations are known to have a strong effect positively and help in emotional upliftment. Trying not to be too hard on oneself by asking for help every time we are stuck would not harm and in case if we are finding it difficult to even move forward, setting up deadlines or boundaries for small goals would do wonders.
- Physical self-care: Our body does so much for us and it is a gift that we must cherish and be grateful for. Physical self-care deals with taking care of our body to strengthen us from within. A healthy eating habit with proper nutrition along with daily exercises and a good amount of sleep would ensure physical well-being. Taking care of our physical self is very much required, especially during this pandemic where our body is fighting so much for us. We must nourish and protect it in return. Going for a physical health checkup regularly, taking vitamins on time, drinking more water, eating meals at regular intervals, and making time for a simple workout routine would help in taking care of our physical health. Investing in good skincare, getting a proper amount of sleep, or even going for a trek or hike with a friend would motivate us internally towards a healthier lifestyle.
- Environmental self-care: Taking care of the space around us makes one feel safe and comfortable. Environmental self-care involves taking care of the places around us that are our immediate environment and this helps us feel at ease as any disorganized space is known to provide discomfort. A clean and organized or an aesthetically pleasing space around us would calm the mind and help us thrive better and feel a sense of belonging. Organizing the clutter around or taking a peaceful walk alone in our neighborhood or even exploring new ventures can help relieve the mind from problems. Investing in house plants can provide solace from time to time. Allocating a therapy session at the end of the day like listening to music or reading a favorite book or even sitting calmly in comfortable clothing with dim lights and a lighted candle, alongside a good cup of warm drink would be appealing to our five senses and help us relax the most at that moment.
- Spiritual self-care: This involves taking care of the inner soul and providing calmness. To nourish the soul, we must take up activities or practices in our life or maybe even subtly change few routines in our lifestyle so that we can attain a sense of belonging and find meaning in life. Spending quality time in nature to naturally heal the soul and practicing spiritual practices like yoga or manifestations can help in feeling more grounded. Finding a community where one can actively participate or volunteer, be it online or offline, and exploring and finding one’s true values and principles would eventually soothe the soul. Any peace-giving practices can be taken up to set the soul free for the moment. To indulge in spiritual self-care is all about making our inner soul secure and at peace.
- Recreational self-care: Our inner child would sometimes get disturbed and feel unsafe due to the chaos of reality and hence, it is vital to rejuvenate it by taking pleasure in new hobbies and activities that will help keep the child in us livelier and happier. These simple activities help us from escaping the monotonous routines of our busy schedules. Making changes from time to time to our daily routines, going on a small trip or adventures over the weekend by our self or with friends, or playing board games and indoor games with friends at home is also viable. Exploring different kinds of hobbies and activities and learning something new or even just simply taking time to do absolutely nothing and allow the creation of random thoughts will enhance problem-solving skills.
- Social self-care: Self-care of course revolves around oneself but it is also vital to connect with friends and family and also meet or connect with new people from time to time. We must cultivate healthy relationships with the people around us to seek positivity. Social self-care deals with positive relationships with the people who are close to us and those who help us physically and mentally at the time of crisis. One must always check up on their loved ones and this gives a feeling of connectedness and acceptance. Spending time with friends and family over a weekend or planning a get-together would boost one’s well-being and others. Writing a letter or email to a friend and checking up on them or attending study groups online can help in making new connections and maintain the old ones. It is very important to be socially connected to bring a sense of acceptance to oneself.
- Financial self-care: The pandemic has and will continue to have its impact on financial stability for years to come. Travel bans, events canceled, drop in industrial production, schools closed and many such things have made everyone’s life from street vendors to big companies to manage the finance wisely. It’s very important to be responsible for our finances and having a conscious relationship with money. Some steps to follow for financial self-care include the source of income, completing tax responsibilities on time, being cautious about due dates and careful from fraudsters, and most importantly spending and saving money wisely
Self-care comes in all forms and is often a very difficult process to go through. Our mind, body, and soul are very much accustomed to this busy life that we are unaware of how to take care of ourselves. Each would have their way of self-care but what’s more important is self-care is almost like a reset button. We have fought several battles internally and externally as well and this is our cue to mend our broken souls and worn-out bodies and repair the damage that they had endured for so long because each one of us deserves a beautiful and healthy life. True self-care is not salt bath and chocolate cake; it is choosing to build a life that we don’t regularly need to escape from.
Sai Deepika, is currently pursuing her BSc Psychology degree from MCHP, MAHE, Manipal. She has contested and won many prizes in speaking contests. Of the several interests she has one among them is self–care therapies.
Dr. Deepa Rasquinha, is an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology, MCHP, MAHE. In her 17 years of experience, she has been involved in teaching, counseling and research. She specializes in gerontology psychology. As an avid writer, she is been writing articles, both in print and e media to create awareness about mental health through various topics.
Image by Gerd Altmann