In our culture, we know that in order to drive cross country, we must take care of our car. We need to pull over in order to refuel and must monitor the oil, temperature, tires and overall mechanics. If something goes wrong, we need to address it or we will be stuck on the side of the road. Self-care requires that we pay attention to ourselves in much the same way.
Good self-care is one of the best ways you can buffer yourself from the impact of stress. Knowing what nourishes and refuels you is powerful wisdom especially if you incorporate daily practices to rest and refuel even as you attend to your other responsibilities.
One way to evaluate your current self-care and incorporate new activities is to think of yourself as consisting of physical, mental, emotional/social and spiritual aspects. There are self-care practices within each realm.
Physical self-care requires we examine the type of diet we have, the amount of exercise we engage in, the amount of sleep we get, the chemicals we consume (caffeine, alcohol and other drugs). Physical self-care also includes any relaxation practices we have such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, guided imagery, yoga or dance.
Mental self-care requires we know our limits; that we are living according to our own goals, values and priorities; it involves learning and possibly pushing ourselves mentally, including learning about stress and coping strategies. Mental self-care can also include engaging in pastimes, hobbies and other diversions we enjoy.
Emotional and social self-care require us to build and maintain our support systems: friends, family and partners; having someone we can turn to for support; someone we can talk to.
Spiritual self-care includes activities that give our lives meaning; this can be prayer or meditation, commitment to a worthy cause, getting outside in nature, practicing gratitude or valuing art, literature or music.
In today’s fast paced world, healthy self-care is not always easily accomplished. It is helpful to focus on what is within your control. FEAP, in conjunction with many resources at UVA, and within our community offers support and additional information to help you develop strategies to rest and refuel.