Self-care encompasses any deliberate attempt to positively impact one’s mental, emotional, and/or physical health. There are unlimited approaches, but overall tend to be most effective when they align with personal values and goals and are within the individual’s resources to comfortably accommodate. While time and cost are frequently limiting factors, effective self-care depends on staying within the boundaries of your resources; otherwise, what is beneficial on one hand is experienced as stressful on another, limiting its positive impact.
The following 3 questions encourage the type of inward reflection that will help to ensure that the time, energy, and dollars you put toward self-care are spent wisely and are maximally effective. Knowing the answers will lead you to the activities that are best suited for recharging your batteries and helping you cultivate a sense of rejuvenation and relief. Keep in mind that the answers may vary; be flexible and aim to give yourself what you most need at that time.
Question 1. Does the idea of a large gathering of people make you feel energized and excited or overwhelmed and drained? If the energy of the crowd is more your thing, a night out salsa dancing, a concert, or a sporting event may hit the spot. If not, maybe it’s a night in with the fireplace, a glass of wine, and a movie rental that better fits the bill. Or, perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle and would enjoy a dinner out or game night with friends.
Question 2. What do you need or want from the experience (connection, fun, escape, self-expression, meaning, etc.)? Different goals call for very different types of activities. You might ask yourself what type of activity typically brings you the biggest sense of relief or reflect on whether you’ve been craving anything in particular lately. Self-care can range from more meaningful activities like volunteering to pick up trash at the beach to more indulgent experiences traditionally associated with self-care like massages and pedicures.
Question 3. How do you want to use your available resources to support this activity? Consider factors such as time, money, and other logistical factors. Don’t let yourself buy into the idea that everything worth doing is expensive. There are often plenty of inexpensive, even free, opportunities if you look in the right places! A hot bath, fun book, interesting podcast, or leisurely walk can be incredibly enjoyable and restorative on a regular basis without breaking the bank.
Once you have those questions answered, get moving! Contact family and/or friends if desiring time with them, begin looking for a public event that meets your needs, or start planning your solo self-care experience. Not sure where to find a group outing that fits your needs? Meetup.com can be a great resource for those who have specific ideas of what they want to do (e.g., join people on a hike) or who are open to a variety of gathering types (e.g., a Friday night social). And, if you find yourself thinking you’re too busy to engage in self-care because you have kids, check out this article for some family-friendly ideas.