“Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.” — William Shakespeare

I think that we can all remember a time when a friend, family member, or therapist told us we need to make sure we practice self-care. This is because caring for ourselves and our communities is essential. Unfortunately, it can feel and be extremely difficult to do. It might be difficult because we aren’t sure what self-care and community care are, or perhaps we struggle to practice self-care and community care because we feel like we always need to be “productive.”

Self-care is a term used to describe the activities you do that are deliberate to take care of your physical and emotional health. Community care is using our resources, privilege, and power to better those within our communities. Your community could include family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Although some people don’t include community care in the same category as self-care, I choose to for a couple of reasons. First, not every culture is individualistic, which self-care tends to lean towards. Second, helping others can be a wonderful way to distract ourselves from our own problems, which can help relieve our own sadness and anxiety.

While I strongly believe in self-care and community care, I have observed that many people in my life view self and community care as unproductive. I disagree with this. I believe they are both very productive. After all, watering our personal and community gardens benefits everyone (i.e., ensuring we are physically and mentally healthy so we can take care of our daily responsibilities at work). An example of this is when I was in college, I was a member of a fraternity and quickly picked up many responsibilities, co-leading chapters, organizing charity and social events, completing required documentation for headquarters, etc. Because I was spending a significant amount of time attending class, completing homework, and taking care of fraternity responsibilities, I quickly found myself in burnout territory. As I put it with my clients, my garden was dehydrated. At that time, I realized I needed to start taking care of myself and my community to ensure that my garden was well hydrated. Because of this experience, I began to understand that self-care and community care were, in fact, productive. If I was burned out, I wouldn’t be able to take care of my personal or fraternity responsibilities, rendering me “unproductive.”

So, as the amount of sun steadily declines and we enter into the fall and winter months, I would like to offer some ways to practice various types of self-care and community care.

Physical Self-Care

  • Eat healthy food
  • Eat meals regularly
  • Practice personal hygiene
  • Exercise (walking, running, cycling, etc…)
  • Get enough sleep for your body
  • Rest when sick
  • Attend routine doctor’s visits
  • Wear clothes that help you feel good about yourself

Psychological/Emotional Self-Care

  • Take time off from work.
  • Take time away from technology (phones, computers, email, etc.)
  • Participate in hobbies
  • Express your emotions
  • Attend therapy
  • Find reasons to laugh

Social Self-Care

  • Spend time with your loved ones
  • Call, Facetime, or write to a friend or family member who lives far away
  • Ask for help from others
  • Have intimate time with your romantic partner(s)
  • Meet new people

Spiritual Self-Care

  • Spend time in nature
  • Meditate
  • Pray to your higher power
  • Create a list of people/places/things that provide you with meaning
  • Appreciate art

Occupational Self-Care

  • Improve your professional skills
  • Say ‘no’ to excessive new activities
  • Take a break
  • Maintain a balance between your personal life and your occupational life
  • Take your allotted time off

Community Care

  • Offer to babysit for a close friend
  • Ask someone if they need any support
  • Cook a meal or bake something for someone you know
  • Make self-care kits for your loved ones
  • Vote
  • Speak out against any form of injustice
  • Volunteer
  • Donate to an organization or charity that fits with your beliefs/morals/values

If you are interested in seeing where your self-care skills stand, feel free to take this self-care assessment. Or, if you are interested in learning more about self-care and community, know that therapy can be a great place to learn more. There are numerous therapists who are willing to help. If you are interested in starting therapy, feel free to contact us.