Self-care. A hot topic these days, and rightly so. As the world continues to face one of the worst medical emergencies of our time, self-care is becoming a necessity. However, too often it gets misinterpreted. Let’s straighten it up.
The year 2020 was one hell of a ride for pretty much anyone living on Planet Earth. The pandemic, the lockdowns, and the unknown continue to take a toll on all of us.
The topic of self-care has been gaining a lot of momentum, as proved by a surge of Google queries associated with the matter. Like never before, people are looking for ways to deal with the stress of working from home, general stress management techniques, and self-care routines.
In fact, Google searches for “self-care routine” have soared by 250% since the first lockdown in March 2020. The search term “work from home stress” was virtually non-existent in 2019, but by week 11 of 2020 it saw a huge spike, which coincides with the first lockdowns. Queries such as “stress management tips”, “stress relief”, and “meditation” all peaked around the same time. It seems that all of us are in the same boat, looking for a way to do and feel better as we face the unknown.
What is Self-Care?
The term “self-care” is everywhere these days. It has virtually become a trend, a buzzword, a meme if you will, mostly because of its impact on the wellness industry and the industry’s power on social media. In the popular imagination, self-care equals a visit to a spa or an all-inclusive vacation package. But that’s far from the truth.
Paula Gill Lopez, a Professor at Fairfield University, offers a handy definition:
“The way I define self-care is the intentional, proactive pursuit of integrated wellness that balances mind, body, and spirit personally and professionally.”
It’s essential to remember that self-care does not equal selfishness. Self-care is a rational approach to taking care of yourself. However, a single recipe on how to do that does not exist. It’s a complex concept that involves commitment and openness with yourself. It can be a struggle depending on the individual. We won’t sugarcoat it: self-care isn’t easy, but today it is more important than ever.
Tips for practicing self-care in 2021
Starting a self-care routine can be tricky. Where and how to start are natural questions for anyone not familiar with the topic. A good place to start is getting yourself acquainted with the 8 dimensions of wellness developed by the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Though introduced by substance abuse professionals, the 8 dimensions of wellness provides a useful guide to what makes a person fulfilled. A healthy balance of the eight dimensions generally predicts higher levels of wellness. These dimensions include:
Consider daily workouts to maintain a healthy physique. Re-evaluate your dietary decisions and remember that getting a good night’s sleep is equally important both for your physical and mental recovery.
Since we live in a digital age, make technology work for you. Headspace, for instance, is a great all-around app when it comes to self-care. It can help you create the conditions for a more restful night’s sleep and set an exercise routine tailored to your needs. One of our designers loves Headspace. Here’s his take on the app:
“I’ve been using Headspace for five years now. It’s great. You get guided meditation along with fun exercises. It’s the perfect app for your mind and body with an excellent visual approach. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Headspace added guided meditation for those working from home!”
Are you journaling, taking time off work, and doing something you love every day? It’s a good idea to do activities that make you feel emotionally fulfilled, whatever they might be. Consider setting aside time for yourself to reflect or simply enjoy the moment. Apps like Reflectly are great for starting your journaling journey. Moodrise is another great app which aims to use digital content to boost emotional resilience and improve your experience of everyday life. Moodrise offers different forms of content to replace your daily social media use with something that will make you feel more fulfilled.
Intellectual self-care can include a wide variety of activities such as reading a book, watching a documentary, or listening to a podcast. Giving your brain new things to do and learn is exciting and feels good. Engaging cognitive activity can improve your memory and boost your confidence. With apps offered by today's developers, you can learn pretty much anything. Duolingo can be a great start for learning a new language, while Udemy will help you learn any skill you can think of – it's never too late. The Local Optimist platform offers a ton of intellectually engaging content, from podcasts and interviews to toolkits, as well as a community of like-minded people.
Occupational self-care is about making your day-to-day life as efficient as possible. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of us struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Having a structured to-do list with clear separations between work and your private affairs is a must. TimeTune for Android and ATracker for iOS are great apps for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. They allow you to follow your routines and give you statistics so you could analyze how you actually spend your days. You can also consider introducing your employer to Mindletic, an app designed to improve emotional health in an office environment. After all, happy you equals happy colleagues equals happy office life!
Financial worries affect us emotionally, inducing stress, anxiety, and even depression. When we experience financial problems, we tend to focus on the negative side of things, and this can create a vicious cycle. To avoid falling into one of these cycles, make sure to track your finances diligently. Apps like Mint can be of great help, as they provide you with your complete financial picture in a single place. Also, consider learning more about financial planning and tracking, whether by listening to a podcast or reading a book.
Spirituality can be a very individual concept. But, generally, when we talk about it, we tend to refer to the feelings of calm and peace. It is up to you to find out what brings you that profound feeling. It can be difficult. Some people find it in meditation, some in exercise, others in nature. Apps such as Calm can be a great way to start a meditation routine, while Viewranger could provide you with that perfect hike in nature.
Social interactions help us feel fulfilled, validated, and loved. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, we’ve all been robbed of social face-to-face interactions, which are essential to human experience. However, thanks to technology, we can stay connected with just a few clicks. Use Zoom to set up meetings with family and friends. Set up a virtual birthday. Engage with your colleagues. Reach out to old friends, ask how they’ve been doing, and let them know that you’ve been thinking about them. Another great web services that lets you feel less alone is imisstheoffice. It offers a way for you to hear the general sounds of the office environment that so many of us nowadays miss.
What's the state of your desk? Messiness can hit differently when you don't have anywhere else to be but home. Environmental self-care, put simply, is the practice of taking care of your environment. Create a space where you feel the calmest. Place photos that remind you of the good times you’ve had with family and friends. Set up a cozy space for naps – we all need them – and make a proper area for work. If you feel overwhelmed by the cleaning list, you can always turn to apps like Spotless. Designed to help you keep your home clean, Spotless empowers users to set up multiple home areas and create a task list for each one. You can complete tasks as you go along and even set deadlines if you so desire.