Self-Care: Process vs content

By: Kenny Parmenter, LCSW-A, LCAS-A, Vecinos Mental Health Therapist

 

Many of us have been told that we need to practice self-care. We have even been given a lot of different recommendations for self-care. But do we really understand, what is self-care? Maybe your friend tells you to go get your nails done. You follow the recommendation. Do you feel any better, and if so why? A lot of what you have been told about self-care is just the content.

We are going to dig deeper into the process of self-care.

‘Self-care is a part of daily living. It is the care taken by individuals towards their own health and well being, and includes the care extended to their children, family, friends and others in neighborhoods and local communities; meet social and psychological needs.’ taken from the paper ‘Self-Care – A Real Choice’, 2005

To really practice self-care one needs to go through the process of figuring out what works for them individually. Begin with insight of what is causing the change in mood (stress/anxiety/depression).

First step: identify the problem(s).

Next think about what makes that problem better or worse. You maybe thinking, “but I don’t want to think about the problem even more.” However it helps to evaluate your situation. Having a deeper understanding of what is causing you stress, what triggers it, (makes it worse or causes you to think about the problem) will help you resolve it.

Be self-aware: notice what makes things better? Are you able to relax on your drive home, are you listening to music or the news; maybe it is silent and you are fully engaged in the drive? Is it better when you are outside? Are their friends that you can talk to that make you feel better about your situation?

Now that you have taken some time to self-reflect and understand what is causing you undue stress and you know what things help relieve and re-energize you, it’s time to prioritize your self-care. It maybe difficult to prioritize your well-being over work or community organizations. However it is important to take care of yourself in order to be there for others. It may not be easy to prioritize yourself, but if you don’t who will? No one can make you do anything, you get to choose how you spend your time, where you put your attention, what occupies your mind space. When you are at work or even if you are in quarantine you get to choose your outlook and mindset (read Man’s Search for Meaning). Now how will you choose to care for yourself?

In review, I’d like to highlight that self-care may look different for each individual. You have to determine the cause of your problem, what makes it better, & what makes it worse. Be intentional find time to practice self-care.

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