Beginner's Guide to Self-Care
Get this: most of us aren’t well. We’re so busy trying to meet goals, conforming to various expectations, and doing good for others that we forget about our own well-being. We’re struggling to meet deadlines, taking care of kids and pets, and keeping up with bills. We just “don’t have time” to think about our own wellness, and it shows-- just look at our soaring substance abuse rates, increased cardiovascular disease and deaths, and the rising overall stress levels among Americans. It’s clear we need to do more to address our wellness.
Did you know? As humans, we’re more than just a body and a mind. We’re the sum of many parts, and we often neglect our pieces. True well-being can’t be achieved unless we actively address and maintain all the parts of ourselves.
8 Dimensions of Wellness
So what are all these parts? Wellness can be viewed like a wheel with spokes. These intersecting spokes represent the various aspects of being human:
Physical: recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
Emotional: coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
Occupational: personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
Financial: satisfaction with current and future financial situations
Environmental: good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
Intellectual: recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
Social: developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
Spiritual: expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life
At Crisis Text Line, we encourage staff, Crisis Counselors, and texters to think about wellness and how to improve self-care practices. Self-care is a term used to describe the care we provide to ourselves, by ourselves. It’s the conscious effort we make to feel and do better by implementing proactive practices to improve our overall well-being.
Above all, self-care is being kind to ourselves and showing ourselves love. It’s putting our health and our needs first. Caring for oneself can be something small, like taking a bike ride to enjoy nature, baking your favorite dessert, snuggling with your pet, or dancing to an empowering song. Self-care can also happen on a larger scale, such as making major life changes to bring about positive self-transformation and growth.
Ask yourself: “What are the things in life that really bring me joy? What are the things I’ve been neglecting that are detrimental to my well-being?”
Planning for Wellness
How can I take better care of myself?
Identify the Problem. Think about the parts of yourself you’re neglecting. You might be addressing your physical health by exercising regularly, but what about your mounting personal debt, time management issues at work, or the strained relationship with your mother? Congratulate yourself for taking care of your body! But, recognize that your financial self, your occupational self, and your emotional self may need some work.
Start Planning. What problem areas are you prepared to address right now? Is your depression so bad you can’t find pleasure in social activities anymore? Are you comfortable with your environment at home; do you feel safe? Are your intellectual needs being met by using your creative mind or expanding your knowledge on a topic of interest? Start narrowing down the areas you wish to improve and then develop short-term and long-term goals to meet those needs.
Take Action. It’s time to put your self-care plan into action. Contact a debt consolidation expert to get that debt under control so you can sleep better at night. Start using a time management worksheet for increased productivity at work. Make an appointment with the therapist your friend suggested. Get started on the diet and exercise regimen your physician recommended to tackle hypertension.
Making life changes can be hard, especially the big ones. Despite the challenges and the barriers, you deserve to be well. Being well is a process that takes time, effort, and self-compassion. We all regress sometimes on our journey to wellness, but it’s important to keep trying and know you’re worth it!
By proactively addressing all the pieces of yourself, you’re on your way to wellness. Remember, being well is a state we’re always trying to achieve. Wellness is constantly evolving and changing based on our needs, which also change over time. With these changes, our plan for wellness may need adjusting. When some parts of yourself are in good shape, address the pieces you’ve been neglecting. Wellness is evergreen and it’s important that we continuously evaluate and address our needs.
Let’s get well, be well, and stay well!
Dr. Lindsay Martin
Dr. Lindsay Martin is an experienced behavioral health clinician and supervisor at Crisis Text Line, Inc. Dr. Martin is passionate about the impact of professional quality of life factors on holistic wellness and emphasizes the importance of self-care practices in everyday life.