Self Care

Self Care & Self Soothing

It is really important to know a range of self care and self soothing techniques to help manage and regulate your wellbeing and emotions.

The term self care describes a conscious act a person takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, and emotional health.

CATEGORY: Life & Coping Skills

SOURCES: APS | verywellmind.com | BMD

Number: #13

 

Snow Monkey Spa Day
Leopard In A Tree 1
Smiling Happy Dog Lying In Grass 2
Cat Having A Spa Day

An Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing released in 2023, of 5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old during 2020-2021, showed that more than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime and that in 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health.

The study is published at https://abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing/2020-21

M any of us have so many responsibilities in life that we forget to take care of our personal needs. This is particularly true for many who have significant caregiving responsibilities. And while it’s hard to prioritise when you have so many other items on your to-do list, self-care is an important aspect of stress management and emotional regulation.

 

There are many forms self-care can take. It could be ensuring you get enough sleep every night or stepping outside for a few minutes for some fresh air. Self-care is vital for building resilience toward those stressors in life that you can’t eliminate. When you’ve taken steps to care for your mind and body, you’ll be better equipped to live your best life.

Without good self care we are left feeling overwhelmed, tired, and ill-equipped to handle life’s inevitable challenges. It’s important to assess how you’re caring for yourself in several different domains so you can ensure you’re caring for your mind, body, and spirit.

Self-care isn’t just about finding ways to relax. It’s about taking care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. 

In order to care for your health and well-being, it is important to find a balance that allows you to address each of these areas. Sometimes you might need more self-care in one specific area in order to restore balance or find relief from a stressor in your life.

Having an effective self-care routine has been shown to have a number of important health benefits. Some of these include:

  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Reducing stress and improving resilience
  • Improving happiness
  • Increasing energy
  • Reducing burnout
  • Stronger relationships
  • Being a better caregiver

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), self-care is important because it can help promote health, prevent disease, and help people better cope with illness.

How Is Your Self Care?

 

Review how your self care is going across these 5 domains: physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Physical Self Care

You need to take care of your body if you want it to run efficiently. Keep in mind that there’s a strong connection between your body and your mind. When you’re caring for your body, you’ll think and feel better too.

Physical self-care includes how you’re fueling your body, how much sleep you’re getting, how much physical activity you are doing, and how well you’re caring for your physical needs. Attending healthcare appointments, taking medication as prescribed, and managing your health are all part of good physical self-care.2

When it comes to physical self-care, ask yourself the following questions to assess whether there might be some areas you need to improve:

  • Are you getting adequate sleep?
  • Is your diet fueling your body well?
  • Are you taking charge of your health?
  • Are you getting enough exercise?

Social Self-Care

Socialisation is key to self-care. But, often, it’s hard to make time for friends and it’s easy to neglect your relationships when life gets busy. Close connections are important to your well-being. The best way to cultivate and maintain close relationships is to put time and energy into them.

There isn’t a certain number of hours you should devote to your friends or work on your relationships. Everyone has slightly different social needs. The key is to figure out what your social needs are and to build enough time in your schedule to create an optimal social life.

To assess your social self-care, consider:

  • Are you getting enough face-to-face time with your friends?
  • What are you doing to nurture your relationships with friends and family

Mental Self-Care

The way you think and the things that you’re filling your mind with greatly influence your psychological well-being.

Mental self-care includes doing things that keep your mind sharp, like puzzles, or learning about a subject that fascinates you. You might find reading books or watching movies that inspire you fuels your mind.

Mental self-care also involves doing things that help you stay mentally healthy. Practicing self-compassion and acceptance, for example, helps you maintain a healthier inner dialogue.

Here are a couple of questions to consider when you think about your mental self-care:

  • Are you making enough time for activities that mentally stimulate you?
  • Are you doing proactive things to help you stay mentally healthy?

Spiritual Self-Care

Research shows that a lifestyle including sprirituality, whatever that means to you, is generally a healthier lifestyle. Nurturing your spirit can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with the universe.

As you consider your spiritual life, ask yourself:

  • What questions do you ask yourself about your life and experience?
  • Are you engaging in spiritual practices that you find fulfilling?

Emotional Self-Care

It’s important to have healthy coping skills to deal with emotions, especially those you might find uncomfortable like anger, anxiety, and sadness. Emotional self-care may include activities that help you acknowledge and express your feelings regularly and safely.

Whether you talk to a partner or close friend about how you feel, or you set aside time for leisure activities that help you process your emotions, it’s important to incorporate emotional self-care into your life.

When assessing your emotional self-care strategies, consider these questions:

  • Do you have healthy ways to process your emotions?
  • Do you incorporate activities into your life that help you feel recharged?

Self Soothing

 

Self soothing is distinct from self care but falls under the umbrella of taking good care of yourself.

Self Soothing refers to the act of finding ways to soothe yourself when you feel emotionally heightened, to help you feel calm and they are things you can do by yourself

Self soothing techniques are part of the coping strategies we use to manage our empotions. You can consider the term self-nurturing as well, and research suggests that involving one or more of the five senses — touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound – in self soothing can be effective.

Touch

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is very sensitive to external stimulus. This makes it a powerful tool in your ability to relax, unwind, and find relief from the stress that you’re feeling.

Water is one of the ways that you can feel instant relief. That can come from soaking in a warm bath or going for a swim. Likewise, you can give your skin a warm touch by simply sitting in the warmth of the sun or changing into your most comfortable clothes.

Among other things, you might try taking a few minutes to stretch your muscles—possibly through a few simple yoga poses or tai chi movements—or getting a massage. Even taking a few minutes to play with and pet an animal can be amazingly beneficial to your mood.

Taste

While it’s best to try not to turn to food for comfort all the time, there is something to be said about its effects on mood. Many of us have learned that hunger can lead to irritability and this can impact stress levels as well.

Rather than turning to junk food to make yourself feel better, try sucking on hard candy or sipping a cup of soothing herbal tea. You may also find ease in a comforting meal. Try to include healthy foods so you maintain a healthy body as well as a healthy mind.

Smell

A number of research studies have looked into the positive benefits of aromatherapy. It is often one of the recommended natural treatments for people dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, and problems with sleep.

For instance, one study found that intensive care patients with anxiety slept better after inhaling lavender essential oil. In a meta-analysis of various clinical studies, researchers found that aromas can play a positive role in stress management.

There are many ways you can take advantage of soothing scents. Browsing a flower shop or spending time literally “smelling the roses” in a garden can brighten your mood. Likewise, simply stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air can provide instant stress relief.

Lavender, vanilla, bergamot, and a number of other fragrances have proven to reduce stress as well. You can get these through scented candles, aromatherapy diffusers with essential oils.

Sound

Your sense of sound is just as effective as the rest in setting you up for a positive emotional state. Music therapy has become a recommended treatment for people with depression, anxiety, and stress. No matter where you are, you can feel these effects by listening to relaxing music or singing to yourself.

You might even try saying positive statements to yourself as a verbal form of self-encouragement. Some people have also found that playing a musical instrument or learning how to play one has helped them reduce their stress.

Sight

Distractions can be a good thing, particularly when your mind is stuck on your stress triggers. Sometimes it’s best to just find something amusing or interesting to look at.

Some of the techniques you might use include reading a good book or simply watching the clouds pass by. You can also entertain yourself by watching a funny movie or television show.

Many people also find it beneficial to reflect on happy times or hopes and dreams. You might want to look through pictures of your loved ones or a past vacation that was filled with fun and joy. Of course, you can also daydream about places you want to visit. Look for things around you that make you smile and it’s likely the stress will dissipate.

Therapy | Treatment

 

So that self care and self soothing register on your list of priorities, it might be helpful to actually develop a self care plan.

Develop Your Self-Care Plan

An effective self-care plan should be tailored to your life and your needs. It needs to be something created by you, for you. Customising your own self-care plan can act as a preventative measure to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed, overstressed, and burned out.

Assess which areas of your life need some more attention and self-care. And reassess your life often. As your situation changes, your self-care needs are likely to shift too. As you are building your self-care plan, the following steps can be helpful:

  • Assess your needs: Make a list of the different parts of your life and major activities that you engage in each day. Work, school, relationships, and family are some you might list.
  • Consider your stressors: Think about the aspects of these areas that cause stress and consider some ways you might address that stress.
  • Devise self-care strategies: Think about some activities that you can do that will help you feel better in each of these areas of your life. Spending time with friends or developing boundaries, for example, can be a way to build healthy social connections.
  • Plan for challenges: When you discover that you’re neglecting a certain aspect of your life, create a plan for change.
  • Take small steps: You don’t have to tackle everything all at once. Identify one small step you can take to begin caring for yourself better.
  • Schedule time to focus on your needs: Even when you feel like you don’t have time to squeeze in one more thing, make self care a priority. When you’re caring for all aspects of yourself, you’ll find that you are able to operate more effectively and efficiently.