The first thing that probably comes to mind when someone talks about self-care is an indulgent skin or hair-care routine or an occasional me-time spent sipping healthy juices or herbed tea. However, self-care goes beyond that.
A step towards self-love
According to Bengaluru-based counselling psychologist, Arouba Kabir, self-care is a step towards self-love. Self-care begins with the smallest things like having a routine, applying a moisturiser, sleeping on time, having three meals on time, that massage one has been postponing or that extra hour of sleep. “Once we have these basics in place, we can move beyond it and explore other enriching avenues like travelling, or trying out new hobbies,” she says.
In fact, one’s daily habits like spending quality time with a pet can also be an important part of self-care and help boost one’s inner well-being. Twenty-eight-year-old Sheeba Sultana from Bengaluru says that spending time with her dog, Abby, helps to declutter her mind and relieve her stress.
A 2017 study by researchers from the University at Buffalo in New York, finds that physical care, supportive relationships, mindful awareness, self-compassion and purpose, mindful relaxation, and supportive structures are the six factors of mindful self-care, which significantly and positively correlates with body esteem.
The different aspects of self-care
Self-care can mean different things to different people. For 36-year-old Syeda Shabana from Bengaluru, it is all about being better prepared for the day ahead and optimising her commute time. “I listen to music or podcasts while going to work and I call my friends and family while returning. As it is a one-hour journey, this helps me relax and unwind.” While her understanding of self-care has more to do with her emotions and inner wellbeing, there are various aspects of self-care that need to be addressed by all. The following is a lowdown on some dimensions of self-care.
Mental and emotional wellbeing
Taking care of one’s mental wellbeing pumps up the happy hormones endorphin and serotonin, which in turn helps uplift one’s mood and improve focus.
Mumbai-based life coach Dr Sabiha Inamdar says that spending quality time with loved ones increases the production of oxytocin (the love hormone) and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) and is a great way to boost one’s mental wellbeing.
Kabir suggests the following acts of self-care for one’s mental wellbeing:
- Scheduling the day: Planning and scheduling things to be better prepared for a hectic day can save one from last-minute stress. The effective way to do this is to make a checklist of things to be done
- Going on a trip: Going on a trip can always help one relax. In addition, trying things like trekking or exploring locales can amplify the experience. For example, a solo trek or going with one’s favourite trekking group are also forms of self-care
- Exploring new things: Going out of one’s comfort zone and trying out new things is another way to charge one’s mind. Even if one is not into music, going to something like a ‘Sufi music concert’ can give one a sense of inner peace and spiritual bliss, and help to connect with the mind
- Giving time to themselves: It is necessary for individuals to take time out for themselves. They can do recreational activities like listening to podcasts or engaging in hobbies so that they have a chance to spend quality time with themselves.
- Maintaining healthy relationships: It is important to have healthy relationships with people around to connect, speak and express one’s feelings.
Skin is the largest organ of our body, and it demands good care. Bengaluru-based consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist, Dr Shoba Sudeep asks individuals to refrain from using unnecessary products and following social media trends. One needs to remember that skincare starts with fulfilling the most basic requirements, and do not take much effort.
Dr Sudeep provides actionable insights:
- Drink enough water and get a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep: Water intake is beneficial not only to the skin but also internally. It hydrates the skin, provides elasticity and prevents it from sagging. Besides, it flushes toxins out of the body. By doing so it helps in keeping acne at bay. Getting a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep during the night greatly contributes towards a youthful radiant skin and helps ward off rapid ageing.
- Little things in skincare can take your skin health a long way : Cleansing your face at least twice a day helps remove dirt and prevents any surprise zits from appearing the following day. Wearing sunscreen regularly and moisturising the skin is an important regime that should not be excluded at any cost. This should be according to our skin type. Thick moisturisers can clog pores and aggravate acne on acne-prone skin. Hence, it is advised to read labels and understand one’s skin type before purchasing any product.
- Face masks have different functions depending on what we are using. They can be used to hydrate, cleanse, and shrink pores
Body detox is one of the most important aspects of self-care. Dr Inamdar says, “Often, we focus so much on the external factors of self-care that we tend to forget to take care of our inner selves. And the physical front would fetch the least results if we do not take care of our body internally.”
Our body has organs which naturally remove toxins from our gut, liver, and kidneys. Detoxification helps to strengthen these organs. Being mindful of avoiding food and substances which harm our body also helps.
Sultana shares her definition of self-care: cleansing the body (internal and external), mind and soul. She further states that she consumes detox drinks like cucumber juice every week. “I don’t like doing extravagant things in the name of self-care; just journaling and reading for my brain, yoga for my spiritual self and detox drinks and proper diet for my body.”
When we talk about detoxifying our body, the foremost step is to stop toxifying it. It is important to reduce or stop the intake of alcohol, tobacco and so on. Moreover, looking out for hidden toxins in fruits and vegetables and other food items will help in the long run.
According to the National Institutes of Health, United States, detoxification is not just drinking juices.
There are several other approaches to detoxification and cleansing which can be used to remove toxins and promote good health.
- Intermittent fasting
- Eating only fruits or vegetables
- Cleansing the colon with laxatives or enemas
- Using a sauna