Defining self-care

As we wrap up a decade of growth, innovation and a culture of immediacy, there is no better time to reflect on the idea behind self-care. With the year 2020 on our horizon, so much can be gained through a deliberate action toward understanding the varying ideals represented in the term ‘self-care’.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as: “what one does to establish and maintain health, and prevent and deal with illness”. The WHO highlights 7 Pillars that guide you to gain knowledge on healthy habits, to be in touch with actions that impact healthy living and to consider risk factors and how to avoid them in daily activities. This view of self-care focuses on the physical element of working toward your best life, but it leaves out some very crucial elements of care that in 2019 we now know to be vital to overall wellbeing.

Psychology today looks at self-care quite differently. While physical health is always a priority, to truly care for yourself, mental and emotional health simply cannot be overlooked. The PsychToday blog suggests you start out with the things you should no longer do, the things that hinder emotional health. It could be as simple as not checking work emails at night, setting boundaries with devices during meals or eliminating actions that simply no longer bring you happiness. From there you must take control of better eating, sleeping, exercise, family time and finding opportunities to experience joy.

Another view of self-care outlines that you must nurture your mind, body and soul each day. Caring for your mind simply means you make deliberate actions to keep your mind sharp. Put thought into your daily actions, free yourself from media and work for a period of time each day. Or you can take some time to be silly; a firm opportunity to stop taking yourself so seriously for a few minutes each day. Taking care of your body under this view of self-care is more about mindfulness, breathing techniques or a good belly laugh. It focuses on the reduction of stress and anxiety impacting the body. The idea of caring for your soul comes down to finding the very things that invoke joy: puppies, friendship, a trip just for fun or giving yourself permission to explore that hobby you enjoy is just the ticket. The list can go on and on, but reminding yourself that you are worth the time and investment is key.

Self-care is defined in a variety of ways across researchers, health organizations and bloggers. What really ties it all together is our four aims in Alpha Sigma Alpha guide us toward ultimate self-care. Our physical aim reminds us that our investment in our body is needed. Mental health is all about keeping our minds sharp and our intellectual aim reminds us to take time daily to read, learn and grow. As we consider our social and spiritual aims we are reminded how valuable it is to surround ourselves with people and faith that lift us up. These two most certainly fall into emotional self-care. No matter which point of view you have when it comes to self-care, it is very important that you invest in the time and energy to make YOU a priority in your days.

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