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self-care

Owning your self-care and zone of well-being.

Self- Care Defined

Everywhere you turn, someone is talking about self-care. It’s a super trendy hot topic these days. But what exactly is self-care? Why is self-care important? And how do you actually manage it and prioritize it? Over the next 4 (or maybe 6 posts), I’ll not only be sharing my perspective on this topic, but I’ll also be sharing what research and mental health experts are saying about how self-care protects and strengthens our overall health and well-being.

 

I believe self-care is more than a practice or activity. I believe it’s more than relaxing, resting, personal pampering, “me- time” or “alone- time. I believe self-care is actually a mindset which influences the way we lead our lives, love ourselves and others, and engage in our work/career/profession. A self-care mindset consists of the attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs we hold concerning how we should steward or manage every aspect of our lives.

3 Aspects of Self-Care

According to a resource provided by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), self-care has three basic aspects:
  1. Awareness: the ability to recognize your feelings, stress level, type of thinking and behavioral response patterns. I would add it’s also the ability to recognize what is triggering or comprising your overall state of wellbeing.
  2. Balance: the ability to manage all areas of your life in a way that promotes personal wellbeing.
  3. Connection: the ability to build strong, supportive relationships with others in ways that promote personal wellness.

 

6 Domains of Self-Care

In a self-care inventory provided by the NCTSN for Child Welfare Professionals (of which I was one for 10 years), there are 5 self-care domains we need to take inventory of before we can create a self-care plan. As a courtesy to you, I’ll briefly summarize each domain (you’re welcome). I also added ‘social self-care‘ which was included in the research from SAMSHA concerning 8 dimensions of personal wellness.

 

  1. Physical Self-Care: managing our nutrition, energy, physical health, sleep, rest and activity in ways that contribute to our physical health and wellbeing.
  2. Mental Self-Care: effectively managing our stress, noticing and managing our inner thought life, attitudes, feelings while also setting healthy boundaries to avoid being overcommitted, overwhelmed, overworked, anxious or depressed.
  3. Emotional Self-Care: the ability to love, affirm and accept ourselves; engage in comforting and relaxing activities, connect with others we enjoy, and the ability to acknowledge/express (rather than ignore, disregard or suppress) our feelings in healthy ways while also being able to manage stress, crises, and emotional distress in healthy and productive ways.
  4. Spiritual Self-Care: ability to engage in a spiritual community, meditate and connect with God through prayer, worship, inspirational literature (such as the Bible, spiritual podcasts and sermons, etc).
  5. Workplace/Occupational Self-care: ability to engage in work that is exciting, enjoyable, rewarding and meaningful; the  ability to manage workloads, set limits and boundaries with clients and colleagues; the ability to negotiate needs (benefits, bonuses, raises); the ability to build in short (brain)breaks throughout the workday and establish a comfortable, quiet space to complete work-related tasks.
  6. Social Self-care: the ability to experience a sense of connection and belonging with supportive others while also exercising healthy social boundaries and setting social limits (social media, social engagements, and social activities).

 

4 Core Skills of Self-Care

Truth be told, our self-care mindsets can be healthy or unhealthy; productive or unproductive. But I believe a healthy and holistic perspective of self-care requires wisdom. Wisdom consisting of 4 key skills:

 

  1. Self-awareness: the ability to recognize our triggers, needs, limits, drains, negative patterns, behaviors, and habits
  2. Self-engagement: the ability to lead/manage/prioritize our lives in accordance with our personal values, vision, and beliefs
  3. God-awareness: the ability to recognize how God instructs us to lead and manage our lives
  4. God engagement: the ability to obey God’s instructions and follow Christ’s example for how to manage our lives

 

Over the next few posts, we will look at how these 4 components of wisdom can help us create a self-care plan for each life domain. But there’s one more nugget I want to share with you for self-reflection purposes– and it’s the 3 zones of wellbeing.

3 Zones of Well-Being 

According to research conducted by Gallup, our wellbeing has many facets (of which I believe self-care is one) and it can fall into one of three zones- the Thriving Zone, The Struggling Zone or the Suffering Zone.

 

When it comes to assessing the quality of our self-care, I believe these zones serve as a great framework for recognizing our current self-care levels and taking action to move toward the zone where we can experience the greatest level of personal wellbeing.

 

  1. Thriving Zone: One experiences high levels of happiness, life enjoyment and positive outlook on life–fewer health problems, less sick days, worry, and feelings of stress, sadness, and anger
  2. Struggling Zone: One experiences a moderate or negative view of personal future–  more daily stress and worry about finances that thriving group and experience more than double the number of sick days from work.
  3. Suffering Zone: One experiences a negative view of current life situations, report lacking basic needs, experience more stress, worry, sadness, and anger. Report more physical pain and double the disease burden as thriving group.

 

Getting Real with Your Self

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent the majority of my life in the struggling or suffering zone. And I would hate for you to stay stuck in these zones as well due to a lack of knowledge. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I’ve truly begun to experience what life is like in the thriving zone. It has taken me decades to understand all of the factors that contribute to a happier and healthier me. Some of the wellness secrets I’ve discovered include:

 

  • managing my mindsets/perspective/outlook: I had to choose to align my thoughts and perspectives to God’s Word.
  • increasing my self-awareness: I had to recognize my negative mindsets and behaviors that were causing me to be unhealthy.
  • clarifying my values and what’s most important to me: I had to make decisions that align with my standards/convictions.
  • gaining a clearer vision for my life: I had to make decisions that aligned with who I wanted to become and accomplish.
  • taking bold action to ensure I live my life in the thriving zone: I had to make hard personal & professional decisions that I believed would bring more joy, happiness, and peace into my life.

 

Pain and disappointment have taught me my zones of wellbeing are largely the result of my attitudes and actions. When I remained unaware of how I was keeping myself stuck in zones 2 and 3, I experienced an unhappy and unhealthy life.

 

But when I was able to raise my awareness and identify my negative attitudes, mindsets, habits, and hang-ups, I was able to start leading my life in a healthier direction. And because of this, I started experiencing more joy, peace, hope, fulfillment, and enjoyment in my life. No more surviving, struggling or suffering through life for me. I’ve made the decision to THRIVE.

 

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