The recent loss of a young South African celebrity prompted a mental health discussion on social media. The statement “we are a sad generation with happy pictures” frequented social media during that time.
This statement could be interpreted that the now generation masks their emotional pain, or invest less in their emotional well-being, compared to their physical self-care. Hence, we appear happy and put together to the world. If anything, the social media discussion shed light on the importance of emotional self-care.
Self-care has different components, which are all equally important because they are interconnected and crucial to the self’s holistic well-being and functioning.
The types of self-care are physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social. Each self-care component requires different investment in taking care of that aspect. For example, emotional self-care would require talking to someone. Self-awareness is crucial in helping us identify area/s of self-care that we need to improve on.
How to care for ourselves:
Physical self-care is perhaps one area that we mostly invest in. It is concerned with how much sleep we get, our diet, whether we exercise or not, attending to our medical appointments. Also, how we present ourselves is important as our body and soul are strongly connected. Therefore, if we look good, we would think and feel good.
Social self-care is concerned with having connections with others such as family, friends and colleagues. Of course, these days with social isolation, our physical contact is limited, but face-to-face connection is still critical to our well-being.
When that is not possible, the use of different social media platforms can facilitate the process. Since our social needs differ, it’s about assessing the need and investing the required time and effort to nurture the relationships.
Spiritual self-care is proven by research as an essential element to a healthy lifestyle. Spirituality can take many forms, such as praying, meditation and attending church services.
It’s really about having a deep meaningful life and understanding of one’s purpose that goes beyond the self.
Emotional self-care is perhaps the most neglected area in our lives, although it should be prioritised. There is no other health without emotional health. Emotional self-care helps us to cope better with life’s challenges, and regulates uncomfortable emotions such as anger, anxiety, fear and sadness. We can emotionally self-care by talking about our feelings to those close to us, or professionals. Another way of emotional self-care is to set time apart and participate in leisure activities that help us process our emotions.
Mental self-care is really about monitoring our thoughts, and the thought content.
The thoughts that we ruminate on greatly affect our psychological well-being. To have a healthy mental dialogue, self-compassion and acceptance is pivotal.
Also, engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzles building or sudoku, word scramble as well as exploring fascinating activities for our minds through reading or watching specific television programmes, are useful to keep our minds intact.
Because self-care regiments differ based on our personal needs, developing a personal self-care plan is important in keeping consistency and commitment. When we are committed to taking care of ourselves, we can easily notice when we neglect an area, and can rectify it.
To not invest in self-care is to lose you, but when we are able to care for ourselves, we are bound to function more effectively and efficiently.