The psychoanalytical theory says, “Man avoids pain and seeks pleasure.” This is noticeably true. From an undesired emotion to a physical injury, who wants that? Everyone tries to achieve a state of comfort. However, is that always the same as taking care of own self? Do all of us have the same comfort zones? Are all those coping mechanisms healthy? If someone finds solace in taking drugs, does it mean taking care of own self? There is a common misunderstanding between self-coping mechanism and taking care of self. If so, what is the difference between them?
SELF CARE VS. COPING MECHANISMS
Self-care is a broad term that encompasses just about anything you to do be good to yourself. It is about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others. It is partly about knowing when your resources are running low and stepping back to replenish them rather than letting them all drain away.
Meanwhile, it also involves integrating self-compassion into your life in a way that helps to prevent even the possibility of a burnout.
However, it is important to note that not everything that feels good is self-care. We can all be tempted to use unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and risk-taking. These self-destructive activities help us to regulate challenging emotions, but the relief is temporary.
The difference between unhealthy coping mechanisms and self-care activities is that one brings only a temporary relief from any discomfort while the other is for the long-term benefit. When practised correctly, self-care has long-term benefit for the mind, the body, or both.
BENEFITS OF SELF CARE
· Increased self-knowledge: In the process of taking care of self, one learns a lot about them. From strengths to shortcomings, one learns to deal with various situations and usually virtues gained.
· Better productivity: It comes majorly from mindfulness, which comes with self-care. Self-awareness makes decisions better and simple. Knowing when to say “no” gives direction and purpose. Setting priorities make productivity better.
· Enhanced self-esteem: When you regularly carve out time to be good to yourself and to meet self-needs, you send positive energy to your subconscious mind. You treat yourself as if you matter and have intrinsic value. This can discourage negative self-talk and critical inner voice.
· More to give: When you are good to yourself, you might think you are being selfish. In truth, self-care gives you the resources you need to be compassionate to others apart from self. Self-care leads to improved emotional, physical, social, and spiritual well being.
TYPES OF SELF-CARE
People generally think of self-care as having to do something about mental well-being and sometimes physical. They use the terms interchangeably, but there is a difference and there are more types to it. The self-care practices do not require much planning or tricks.
Psychology divides self-care into 5 categories-sensory, emotional, spiritual, social and physical.
As the name suggests sensory self-care is about being able to tune into the details of sensations around. Hence, it is about living in the present! It is about letting go off the stressful memories and focusing on these four senses-sights, touch, smell, auditory.
When it comes to emotional health, one of the best self-care tips is to make sure you fully engage with your emotions. When you face them head-on, this actually helps with stress. You may feel tempted to push down feelings like sadness or anger, but it is healthy to feel them, accept them, and move on. Remember that emotions are not “good” or “bad” in themselves. You are not blameworthy for the emotions you feel; only how you behave in response to them.
Spiritual self-care is not about worshipping a deity as usually thought to be, agonists and atheists can maintain spiritual well-being as well. It is about getting in touch with own values and knowing what matters. Mindfulness techniques and seeking purpose are just two examples of ways in which one can take care of spiritually.
Social self-care might seem different for introverts or extroverts, however engaging with people and forming healthy bonds is what makes a large diversity of people happy! This can help overcome loneliness and isolation. It is not about doing things with someone but is about choosing someone to do things!
Lastly, physical self-care is about maintaining healthy body functioning. It is about changing your lifestyle in accordance with your physical needs. It is a lot more than one hour of the gym! It includes healthy eating and other healthy habits as well.
WAYS TO TAKE CARE OF SELF
Imagine sitting in your office, it is a busy week. There is an important meeting, loads of paperwork, and your calendar fills with tasks and events. So, how do you make a room for all the work?
Well, you cancel your gym plans; cancel the movie plan with your family; skip meals to work; minimise sleeping hours; cut back on socialising and what not!
To get going in this roadrunner lifestyle, no one thinks twice before giving self-care a backseat! More often than not, it takes a wakeup call to bring to our notice the kind of toll our lifestyle has brought to us.
Self-care is not a heavy practice, it is very much doable. Here are few ways to practice self-care-
1. Sensory self-care: This comes from enjoying the little things life offers you. Since it has to do with senses, it can include little deeds like making most of the weather; spending time with nature as in enjoying the misty grass as you go for a morning walk or listening close to chirping for some time; spending time with your pets contributes a lot too. Sensory self-care is most beneficial when time spent with nature. Travelling can prove to help in sensory self-care.
2. Emotional self-care: This comes from letting your emotions into conscious being. One can keep a journal for this; visit a therapist for personal development; expand emotional vocabulary; spend time with someone who understands you; cry when needed; deliberately encourage laughing. There are many more ways; one can find ways for self as they explore themselves. The key is to discourage the suppressing emotions.
3. Spiritual self-care: Daily meditation or mindfulness practice can help a lot. Other than that attend religious or social services; read enriching poetries and stories; try being creative through any art form; practice gratitude; find a sense of self and purpose.
4. Social self-care: This can include often meeting people who matter; writing emails; joining a group with similar interests; avoiding people who elicit negative emotions; sign up for some learning class and make new friends.
5. Physical self-care: Apart from various exercises that are usually suggested, take naps to refresh; say “no” to invitations when you are simply too tired to enjoy them; commit to 7–9 hours of sleep; learn sport. The key is to bring healthy lifestyle habits for which you can seek help of a dietician or get involved in some sport.
The world is becoming a busier place. We no longer have the steering of our lives in our hand. We are under control of anxiety, stress, control, and other discomfort. The point is it is easy to take the “hard work pays off” adage too far, to the point that it becomes counterproductive. Your skills are not as sharp. You lose focus. You might think you are working hard, and maybe you are in some ways, but you are not working efficiently.
In these times, we need ourselves more than we needed anything. Self-care comes with loving yourself, respecting yourself and knowing your self-worth. So, before telling someone else to, one should tell himself or herself to-”take care”!