Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I love all things that are cozy, and that is the quintessence of autumn. I am already drinking my favorite cup of tea and anticipating the crispness in the air. (I live in Texas, and some years the season is a little slow in arriving.) Christmas is just around the corner, and I am cognizant that joy will arrive with it, but it also brings holiday stress. I have found that planning self-care in the Fall helps to optimize the merriment the Winter months generate. But first, what exactly is self-care? This article explores the seven types of self-care and how to incorporate them into your life during this season.
What Is Self-care?
Some people have the idea that self-care is a pretentious woman in a high-end salon getting a massage, having her nails dipped, and sipping mimosas. While that can be self-care for some, it has more to do with paying attention to and nurturing your own needs. I have a friend who expressed the need for self-care to a woman she was talking with, and the lady immediately snapped back at her that it was “selfish.” That is NOT what self-care is about at all. It is more like being on an airplane and the air has been compromised. You must place your mask on first so you can help the people around you. It is taking care of yourself, so you can be healthy, help others, accomplish all the demands that are placed on you each day, and enjoy life. You cannot pour from an empty cup. In 2016, C.L Shandra and N. Sonalkar conducted a study that found 6.7% of the United States population practices a form of health self-care on a daily basis. A 2020 survey via Onepoll found that 7 in 10 Americans are aware of their need for self-care. People need self-care practices established as health routines in their lives.
Seven Types of Self-care
According to the Health Coach Institute, there are seven types of self-care: emotional, physical, mental, social, spiritual, practical, and professional. Each of these topics will be followed by hands-on approaches to implement self-care during the Fall.
1. Emotional self-care is cultivating and nursing your innermost feelings and emotions. It is limiting the amount of news media that you are exposed to in a day, so it doesn’t put you into a fear mindset. It is tuning into your body and understanding the meaning behind the physical sensations your emotions are producing. Some activities that bolster your emotional self-care are journaling, meditating, spending time with friends that build you up, laughing, and practicing mindfulness. Adding one emotional self-care activity into your routine everyday will lead to more balance between your inner life and your emotions.
One thing you can do to focus on your emotional self-care is to limit your social media time. Fall is a wonderful time to try a social media detox – you can keep the positive and healthy programs like uplifting podcasts and blogs that are good for mental health but skip the media that causes your anxiety to rise. Some replacement activities would be to listen to a Fall-themed playlist, pull out a harvest-themed puzzle, or meet up with family and friends. Another activity would be to pick up a hobby that you haven’t been able to devote any time to like making homemade Christmas cards or taking photographs of all the beautiful sepia hues that autumn brings. You could even create a seasonal bucket list.
2. Physical self-care is taking care of your physical body. It’s the bubble baths, massages, and Reiki sessions, but it is also replacing bad eating habits with healthy ones, drinking enough water, exercising regularly to reduce stress and increase endorphins, and getting enough sleep every night so your body can rest and repair itself. In addition, physical self-care is making sure you have regular medical and dental appointments, taking care of your skin, and even wearing clothes that make you feel good about yourself.
Living Life the Happy Way and Oceana Reiki Spa are happy to bring you the Fall- and Winter-themed Love My Body Reiki-infused Body Scrub Workshop November 12th to create some body scrubs to pamper yourself with or gift to a friend. You could also spend time outdoors at a local park or spend an evening moon gazing on the beach. If you need to pamper yourself, then it is perfectly acceptable to get a seasonal manicure and pedicure. Be sure to nap when your body is showing signs that it needs to rest and devote enough time each night to sleep.
3. Mental self-care focuses on improving your overall mental health and wellbeing. When your mental health is ignored, you are at a greater risk of increased stress and anxiety, and that can quickly lead to exhaustion and despair. Establishing boundaries is necessary. Sometimes you must say, “No!” Establishing boundaries between yourself and others is teaching people how you need to be treated. Saying “Yes” all the time leads to you becoming stressed and overwhelmed. Don’t take on what is not meant for you to carry. When you find yourself in a place where you can’t do this or you are anxious, stressed, or depressed, find a life coach or a therapist that can talk you through what is going on. If that doesn’t help, consider seeing a physician for additional help. There is no embarrassment when it comes to taking care of your mental health.
One way to focus on mental self-care during the Fall is to venture outdoors, and you can even bring your pet along. When you are outside, take deep breaths of the cooler air. Give yourself permission to detach from your thoughts and enjoy the present moment with your pet. Practice paying attention to your thoughts to gauge where your mental health is headed. If you find yourself gravitating to a darker place as the season changes, then reach out for help. Sometimes taking a break and drinking a warm cup of tea can help you self-soothe. Finally, practice setting healthy boundaries. Go into the holiday season with a list of what you can complete and what you can’t. It is ok to say “No!” especially if it is going to damage your mental and emotional health.
4. Social self-care addresses how you venture out into the world around you, absorb the culture, and connect to it. Humans are not designed to experience life alone. You are a social being meant to connect and form a community that promotes feelings of love, compassion, and acceptance – all of those are vital for maintaining your well-being. Social self-care is reaching out and talking to your friends. It encourages you to participate in friendships that are equal give and take and to end toxic relationships that make you feel bad about yourself. Stable relationships are important, and so is your ability to maintain them. It is very important to re-evaluate friendships from time to time, and sometimes it is necessary to distance yourself or even cut ties.
During the next few months, you could practice social self-care by attending a fall-themed event like Oktoberfest, a pumpkin patch, hayride, or even a haunted house with a close group of friends. If you have a friend that is sick, consider cooking or baking something seasonal and taking it to them, i.e., pumpkin bread, something with apples, or even your family’s secret recipe for homemade chicken noodle soup. Another option is to meet a friend at a local coffee or tea shop and enjoy one of the fall-flavored drinks, plan a holiday-themed movie marathon, or even Facetime with friends and loved ones that live far away.
5. Spiritual self-care nurtures your soul. This area of self-care often gets ignored, but it is just as important as the other six areas. Spiritual self-care helps you to find fulfilment beyond yourself and your connection with others; it helps you find fulfilment by connecting to your higher power. Spiritual self-care gives clarity on what makes you happy, it deepens your inner relationship with yourself, and it helps you feel connected not just to those around you, but to the Divine. Spiritual self-care leads to inner peace, which is something everyone needs. Some practical ways to add to your spiritual self-care routine are to meditate, add yoga, clear negative energy from your space by smudging with sage or palo santo, reading spiritual material, and journaling.
A few ways to incorporate spiritual self-care this autumn are to journal about what you would like to achieve during the next three months, write about past Halloween and Thanksgiving memories, or start a gratitude list before November. Another activity would be to go outside and pay attention to the sounds of rustling leaves or the “peeps” from birds migrating south. Meditate on your feelings about change or just acknowledge the accomplishments that you have made since the beginning of the year.
6. Practical self-care is comprised of steps that are taken to ensure your core needs are met and that stressors are minimized. One way to achieve practical self-care is to carve out an hour or two for yourself every day. During that time, put away your phone, silence the alerts, and set your to-do list aside. Instead pick up a book or listen to an audio book, journal, or take a personal development class. One of my favorite methods of practical self-care is to declutter my space. Lives get busy and spaces get cluttered. Taking an afternoon to go through areas that have become cluttered will not only improve your energy but your home’s energy as well. If you don’t need it or haven’t used it, donate it.
Some ways to incorporate practical self-care this season would be to build a fire in your fireplace or fire pit, wrap yourself in a knit or flannel blanket, decorate your home with pumpkins, leaves, or even scary things, and read some autumn-themed books. Another way would be to clean and pack away your summer items and bring out your Fall/Winter wardrobe.
7. Professional self-care pertains to your career and how to reduce stressors that come from it. It’s difficult to think of self-care as being a part of your career, but it is important because when things become too stressful in the work environment, your entire mindset can become affected as well as how you work and respond to others. The most important professional self-care tip is to have boundaries with your time. Take short breaks throughout the day to clear your mind and take lunch breaks. When it is time for you to go home, leave your work at the office and don’t take it home with you. At work, find like-minded co-workers to foster relationships with and learn to spot the “Negative Nancy” and limit your exposure to her because her mindset can affect yours. When you find that your job isn’t fueling your passion anymore, ask for more challenging projects because at the end of the day, you need to be doing something that you are passionate about. If you cannot leave your career or the challenging projects aren’t given to you, then practicing self-care in the other six areas can help you find other things that you are passionate about.
A few ways to enjoy the Fall season at work would be to host a cubical decorating contest or dress up for Halloween. Adults letting their inner child out to play at the office can offer a boost to creativity. If that is not an option, schedule short breaks away from your office where you can take a short walk outside to enjoy the weather while it is cool but not freezing – that breakaway can lower your stress levels and allow you to be more productive. Place a Fall-themed candle or some essential oil at your desk to give you a mental boost during the day.
Self-care is important for everyone, but especially for women. Women are natural nurturers and take care of their parents, partners, and children. Sometimes when concentrating on taking care of other people, it is easy to neglect your needs. “A survey from the Transamerica Institute found that 55 percent of caregivers said their own health took a back seat to the health of the recipient.” The purpose of this month’s blog is to give you tools to prevent that from occurring. Whether you receive self-care from one of the suggestions listed above or by creating a fall-themed self-care list, I hope you take the time to make your health a priority this cozy season.