Did you know there are different types of self care? Yeah… me neither. But identifying them is actually REALLY important to understand how to take care of your whole being.
There are 6 types of self-care, in general. Some will claim 5, and some 7, but for me, this list feels intuitively correct. I based this list on my research and just what I’ve found works best for me and my own personal self care practices.
For a long time I thought about self care from a mostly physical perspective. You know, bubbles baths, massages, etc. But as time went on I felt like that didn’t really resonate for me and my needs. At first, I wanted to throw the whole concept of self care away as something shallow and made up even.
But I couldn’t shake the reality that something just wasn’t adding up for me. I just felt bad. Even when life was going well, something just always felt off.
When I put 2+2 together to equal 4, I realized that I had been neglecting entire areas of self care because I really just didn’t even know they existed under the umbrella of self care.
I’ll share more from personal experience on what the types of self care mean in real life, but first let’s start listing and defining them.
1. Physical Self Care
This to me means taking care of your physical needs. Physical self care is all about ensuring that your body is working properly.
It’s similar to the way you take care of your car. Take it to the shop, get the oil changed, rotate the tires, clear out any garbage, wipe down the surfaces, sweep up those crumbs on the floor, and then take it through the car wash. Did I mention making sure it’s properly fueled up?
Your body is your vehicle in this life, and you should take at least as good of care of your body as your car. Physical self care is one of the most obvious and basic types of self care, but so many times is still neglected.
Examples of physical self care:
- Exercise, like taking a walk, doing yoga, or going to the gym
- Eating healthy, lots of fruits and veggies, drink lots of water
- Taking a shower, washing your hair, having a skincare routine
2. Emotional Self Care
To put it basically, this is all about feeling your feelings and honoring them.
Sounds simple, right?
Not so fast. This is something so many people struggle with nowadays because being emotional and being connected to your feelings isn’t really seen as something to cultivate in our society.
Instead, we are many times taught to push our feelings down for many reasons, including survival and trauma. At some point in our life our experiences taught us it was safer to not feel.
Those instincts might have served us once, but now as adults it is usually harmful, leading to depression and anxiety. Of the types of self care, this one can be the hardest to navigate without help.
Examples of Emotional Self Care
- Therapy (I love BetterHelp for virtual counselling)
- Learning how to do shadow work
- Identify ways to help you let your feelings out like watching a sappy movie
3. Social Self Care
As a mom, life can become so isolated. I spend most of my time with tiny humans, and the only person I regularly interact with is my husband.
The internet and social media do allow us to connect more frequently than we would without it, but sometimes that also leads to us replacing real social interaction with a cheap imitation.
Practicing social self care is know yourself and how much social interaction you need to feel whole. Perhaps one outing a month is enough, or maybe you need drinks with the girls every Thursday night.
The key is to know yourself, but also push yourself a little to get out of the funk that can happen when we become too isolated and lonely.
Examples of Social Self Care
- Going out with friends
- Meeting up with a new hobby group
- Have a date night
4. Mental Self Care
Time to exercise your brain. Get creative. Learn something new.
When I was a kid, I loved to try out new skills and hobbies all the time. One thing I did was learn calligraphy, but kind of forgot about it way back in about 1996.
With the trendiness and popularity of hand lettering I figured it was time to pick it back up, and I have to say that just the few days I’ve spent doodling around in a notebook has been incredibly rewarding!
This is about caring for that part of you that is your mind, whether that is about your logical mind or creative mind.
Examples of Mental Self Care
- Play Sudoku or do a crossword puzzle
- Pick up a new hobby
- Paint, draw, sing, take photos, be creative
5. Practical Self Care
This is one of my favorite types of self care to talk about right now!
The reason the idea of practical self care and learning how to master it is fascinating to me because to be honest… I suck at it.
For a wide range of reasons, I am not so great at doing the super practical things I need to ensure that I am happy, healthy, and prosperous. For example, I neglected going to the dentist so long that a simple cavity turned into a root canal.
I’ve been late on paying bills for absolutely no reason and overdrawn bank accounts just because I am missing the gene that makes me awesome at adulting.
BUT, just like any skill, it CAN be learned.
The first step though is just getting it on your radar and making the intention to be more proactive and responsible when it comes to your practical self care as one of the types of self care.
Examples of Self Care
- Making a doctor appointment
- Paying your bills
- Remembering to sign up for health insurance
6. Spiritual Self Care
At first, I wasn’t really sure how this differed from emotional self care, but then I realized what it is.
Emotional self care is about connecting to your own feelings.
Spiritual self care is about connecting to something greater than yourself.
You don’t have to be super religious to include this as one of the types of self care you practice. In fact, you could be an atheist and keep this in your repertoire.
This isn’t about having any specific spiritual practice, but rather figuring out what works best for you to help you feel more connected to God, Goddess, Source, Universe, Nature, Science… whatever you feel helps you feel at peace in a place that connects you to the rest of the world as a whole.
Examples of Spiritual Self Care:
- Meditation, prayer, ritual
- Going to church, temple, a walk in the woods
- Look at the night sky, or stand on the edge of the ocean
Make the types of self care work for you
Each person, including you, is an individual. We all have unique needs and sets of life circumstances. What helps one person might not help the other.
But I would challenge you to look at these areas and determine what they mean to you. How can you create practices and rituals with these types of self care in mind so you can live your best life?
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