"Take care of yourself!" Sound like something you hear often? This instruction may conjure up fixed ideals of what "taking care" means: getting to the gym, making smoothies, meditating, or getting more sleep. But gym memberships aren’t for everyone, not everyone has a blender, and we may not be able to navigate our current obstacles to achieving optimal sleep or stillness. Thus creates a cycle: we figure if we can’t practice those things on a daily basis, well then self-care is simply out of our reach and we continue to miss out on positive benefits of self-care. We need to expand our concepts of what self-care is, what is possible, and take credit for the things we are already doing for ourselves. It's time to get creative and more personalized.
It can help to think in terms of overall well-being. There are multiple areas of well-being that we can tend to in order to have a more encompassing approach to self-care. If you are feeling “off” lately, perhaps it is because there is a part of your well-being that could use some tending to.
Since I am a visual person, I created a chart to visualize six areas of well-being. Here below are two documents:
- A chart of general examples of tending to well-being in each category
- A blank chart of well-being categories
If you have the time one evening or weekend, or perhaps a thoughtful morning if you are an early bird, I encourage you to print out the chart and write in it.
Here's How to Fill Out the Chart
Write what you already do to tend to each category of well-being. Sometimes, by writing it all out, we realize that we are already doing fairly well. The visual of the chart can be affirming that you are tending to your care needs. Try to incorporate that awareness into the narrative of your day. For example, next time you fill up your glass or bottle with water, acknowledge that you are tending to your physical well-being.
If one section is less-filled, try not to feel shame or failure about it. Instead, take the opportunity to explore why you might not be tending to that part of your well-being right now. Different seasons of life may shift our priorities. Or, there may be underlying messages about your worthiness of tending to that part of your well-being. Explore the reasons as to why in a non-judgmental way.
Next, write in the activities, thoughts, actions you’d like to try. Each new idea can be something to try when you do have the time and motivation for it.
Here are my takes on six areas of well-being along with some examples. You'll see the examples vary based on time and energy required. Ideas can (and should!) be both big and small. Try to think of things that take minimal investment, but also consider larger goals you may have. I encourage you to open the example chart to see many more ideas.
Professional Well-Being – Taking care of yourself within the context of work. True, this could be about furthering your career – but furthering your career within the context of care and respect for your well-being, boundaries and your values.
- Take a professional development class
- Attend a networking event
- Accept compliments from manager or coworkers
Spiritual Well-Being – Anything that makes you feel connected to something greater than yourself. For some that may be religion or a spiritual practice, for others it may be found through nature or serving others.
- Take trips to be in nature
- Attend a religious service (if this fits into your definition of spiritual well-being)
- Take a moment to recognize beauty around you each day
Personal Well-Being – How you relate to others, both those you know and those you don’t. This also includes your interests/hobbies, your home environment, your finances. For inspiration, this School of Life article is about taking your fun more seriously.
- Practice a new hobby
- Stop by for a friendly visit to check-in with a neighbor
- Drive with kindness in mind for others on the road
Mental Well-Being – Anything that challenges your mind to receive new experiences, information, and perspective.
- Take a course at a community college
- Attend a cultural festival or visit a museum
- Listen to a new radio station as you drive
Emotional Well-Being - Anything that tends to your inner-world and inner-voice.
- Schedule an appointment with a therapist
- Seek out books, articles, movies, TV shows, or people to make you laugh
Physical Well-Being – Sleep, health, eating, movement.
- Practice healthy sleep habits
- Keep up with annual health check
- Praise myself each time I refill my water or glass bottle
What ideas do you have? Please share!