When we talk about self-care, most people think of luxurious bubble baths, days off at the spa, vacations to pretty places or trips to the mountains, and a lot of downtime. Unfortunately, for most busy adults, especially those who are also caregivers, taking a day of pampering might not be feasible with their schedules. Oftentimes, these busy lives prevent caregivers from even considering taking time for themselves and can result in caregiver burnout, stress, and frustration.
It’s important to know that self-care is more than a luxurious time spent pampering yourself, foregoing all responsibilities, and enjoying extravagance. Of course, there is a time and a place for pampering, and if you get the chance to take some time off, do it! However, taking practical steps to care for yourself daily is more important than one grand gesture and may help lead to longer overall health and success. Today we’re going to unpack some practical ways to take time for yourself and make sure you’re getting the care you need.
Types of Self-Care
To start, let’s talk about the different types of self-care: emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, social, practical, and professional self-care, and some examples of what those might look like.
Emotional self-care has to do with your happiness and overall emotional well-being, as well as the ability to regulate and identify your emotions.
Emotional self-care might look like:
- Journaling through negative emotions and thoughts
- Talking with a therapist
- Finding things to be grateful for every day
Mental Self-Care is similar to emotional self-care but relates more to protecting your overall mental health and well-being and taking steps to grow your mind, monitor your mental health, and take steps to maintain overall good mental health, however, that may be for you.
Mental self-care might look like:
- Taking time to learn a new hobby
- Meeting with a therapist
- Working with your doctor to make sure your medications are up to date and interacting properly
- Identifying stress triggers and finding ways to minimize them
- Identifying burnout and working on strategies to help alleviate it
Spiritual Self-Care is for everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation. Taking time to nurture your soul and your own internal being is also a critical part of self-care.
Spiritual Self-Care can look like a variety of things, depending on your personal beliefs.
- Daily devotionals and journaling
- Gratitude journaling
Physical self-care is taking care of yourself physically, such as exercising, going to doctor appointments, and even taking time to rest. Chat with your doctor to make sure you cover all of your bases before making any huge changes.
Physical self-care can look like a lot of things for many people:
- Drinking enough water every day
- Taking walks a few times per week
- Increasing exercise throughout the week
- Eat enough nutrients every day. Start small, like aiming to hit enough protein every day or eating enough servings of veggies per day.
Social Self-Care relates to relationship management and development, from personal, familial, and romantic, to professional relationships.
This can be:
- Going on a dog walk with a friend
- Grabbing coffee with your significant other and spending some quality time talking
- Scheduling weekly “venting” phone calls with a trusted friend
- Making family dinner a priority when possible
Practical Self-Care can be anything from personal chores and honey-do lists to financial planning, budgeting, cleaning your house, or organizing your calendar.
- Plan and stick to a budget
- Pick one chore a day to complete each day
- Go grocery shopping or have groceries delivered (the Avanlee App can help with this!)
Professional Self-Care is about creating a work-life balance. Turn on notification pause on Slack after 7 pm, practice calendar blocking for lunch breaks, and set professional boundaries to help balance your life more.
- Turning slack or teams off after 7 pm
- Taking sick days when you’re sick
- Using your PTO
- Blocking your calendar off to prevent meetings at lunchtime
So, you know that there are different types of self-care, great! Now what? As wonderful as it would be to tackle all of those areas in your life at once, it may be significantly easier to try them one bite at a time. You don’t need self-care to be another burden you’re worried about managing in your life. If you can prioritize what’s important to you and even more so, know what leads to you feeling overwhelmed or burned out if you neglect it.
Keep it Simple
Start with taking some time to reflect and be self-aware. What areas have you been neglecting in yourself? You can start small with attainable and practical goals such as drinking a certain amount of water every day, writing in your journal each night before you go to bed, or picking one item off each of the lists could be an easy way to make sure you’re also taking care of yourself. It doesn’t need to be one grand gesture, and taking small, practical steps will be more beneficial over the long run.
There are a lot of moving pieces in keeping your loved ones and yourself happy, nourished, and healthy. As a family caregiver, you’re already doing a lot for the rest of your family. It’s important to make sure you take time for yourself, even if it’s taking one small step per day to make time for yourself.
Caregiving is hard. We can help. You can get started for free with the Avanlee App.