The World Health Organization describes self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
For those in recovery, the ability to cope with various stressors and triggers is an important part of the journey. At Avalon Hills, we work with patients early on to develop a self-care plan, recognizing these are often different for each person. A large part of developing this plan involves incorporating self-care activities for different aspects of life.
Just as life is multi-faceted – filled with familial, job, school, and other responsibilities – as is self-care. One activity may nurture your physical health while another helps reduce mental stress. Self-care can be broken down into 7 categories to provide a better understanding of why it’s important to tend to each part of your life.
One important, but often overlooked, type of self-care is emotional self-care. This can involve a lot of different activities but the goal is always the same: to help you regulate your emotions and feel better. For some people, this might mean listening to music or reading fiction. Others might find relief in talking to friends or family members about what’s going on in their life.
Physical self-care is all about taking care of your body. This includes both exercise and eating healthy foods. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Eating nutritious foods helps to improve energy levels and cognitive function. Physical self-care also includes getting enough sleep. Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.
Intellectual self-care is about stimulating your mind. This can be done in many ways, such as reading books, taking classes, or visiting new places. Intellectual self-care helps to reduce stress and improve problem-solving skills.
Social self-care is all about maintaining healthy relationships. This can involve spending time with friends and family, joining a club or organization, or volunteering. Social self-care helps to improve communication skills and reduce isolation.
Spiritual self-care involves the cultivation of beliefs and values that are important to you and guide your life. Examples of spiritual self-care include meditating—which helps to mitigate the effects of stress on the body while calming the mind—reflecting in a journal, going on a retreat, walking in nature, doing a hobby you enjoy, and expressing gratitude. Research indicates that being thankful increases happiness and reduces depression.
This is where you can share your strengths and gifts, and also set clear professional boundaries, and live your purpose. Some examples of professional self-care include taking a lunch break each day at work, negotiating your work needs and expectations with colleagues, having clear professional boundaries, and attending professional development opportunities.
Environmental self-care is about taking care of your surroundings. This might involve decluttering your home or office, organizing your belongings, or investing in green cleaning products. Tidying up can go a long way to improve how you feel. The same is true for having clean clothes to wear and even a clean, well-maintained vehicle to drive. These seemingly simple actions can lead to a more organized lifestyle that reduces stress.
Self-care is important for everybody. It’s a way to take care of yourself so you can be your best self. When you make self-care a priority, you’re more likely to be productive, happy, and healthy. We encourage all of our clients to participate in forms of self-care throughout their stay with us.
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