What is Self-Care?
Self-care is “defined as a cadre of activities performed independently by an individual to promote and maintain personal well-being throughout life (Sanchez-Reilly, et. al., 2013).”
Self-care is important for every human being. However, it is especially important for people who are providing professional services to others. Self-care not only influences the person performing (or not performing) the self-care activities; It also influences those who that person is caring for or serving in a professional manner.
DIMENSIONS OF WELLNESS
One place to start when trying to address self-care is to consider the various dimensions of wellness. These are the different areas in your life that can promote positive well-being. By looking at one dimension or area of life at a time, you can then identify specific strategies to take to support self-care and ultimately support the quality of your personal and professional life.
Dimensions of wellness include things like your family life, community, social experiences, romantic relationships, spiritual wellness, physical health, and your inner wellness.
The Wellness Wheel
To explore the dimensions of wellness, you can look at what is known as “The Wellness Wheel” which is a great visual tool to use to help you identify your satisfaction with the different dimensions of your life.
A wellness wheel generally addresses six main areas of life which include the areas of:
- physical wellbeing
- intellectual wellbeing
- emotional wellbeing
- spiritual wellbeing
- social wellbeing
- occupational wellbeing
You can see an example of The Wellness Wheel at the links below:
- Assessing Your Life Balance
- Wellness Wheel & Assessment from Princeton University
Many people intend to have a good “work-life balance.” However, sometimes the lines get blurred. This is especially true in modern times when work can be taken home whether physically or just by thinking about work at home.
Additionally, although it is great progress for supporting workers, people are more and more able to have their personal lives spill over into their work lives such as by working remotely (and having kids nearby), taking a phone call from their spouse, scheduling a doctor’s appointment while at work, etc.
It can be difficult to truly maintain healthy boundaries around the different areas of life. This includes between work and personal experiences but also includes things like maintaining boundaries around the time you set for yourself to exercise or to plan a healthy meal or to take a break from caring for your children and things like that.
To support self-care, be sure to evaluate how you manage boundaries in your life. Can you make any improvements in this area?
SELF CARE TIPS
To help improve your quality of life as well as to help support the quality of services you provide at work, be sure to take time for self care.
Set goals in any of the areas or dimensions of wellness. You may want to complete a Wellness Wheel to get more insight and ideas for making a self-care plan.
Set realistic and achievable goals and then check in with yourself periodically to evaluate whether you are making progress toward those goals or activities that you decided would be helpful for you.
Everyone is going to have their own unique self-care plan, so be sure to think about your own needs and well-being and not try to mimic what other people are doing. You don’t need to do “self-care” activities that you think you should do just because you think you should do them.
Just do what seems right for you. Evaluate or check in with yourself regularly. If you don’t feel like that activity or strategy is right for you, modify your plan and see if something else would work better.
How do you support your own self-care?
Mills, J., Wand, T., & Fraser, J. A. (2018). Exploring the meaning and practice of self-care among palliative care nurses and doctors: a qualitative study. BMC palliative care, 17(1), 63. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12904-018-0318-0
Sanchez-Reilly, S., Morrison, L. J., Carey, E., Bernacki, R., O’Neill, L., Kapo, J., Periyakoil, V. S., & Thomas, J. (2013). Caring for oneself to care for others: physicians and their self-care. The journal of supportive oncology, 11(2), 75–81. https://doi.org/10.12788/j.suponc.0003