Self-care. It’s everywhere. Self-care is a popular blog topic and Pinterest pin. It has hashtags and YouTube videos dedicated to it. Many push it in the direction of pampering. A sheet mask here. A bath bomb here. For some of us, it’s a girls night. We stay in and eat ice cream and do a DIY face mask. For others of us, it’s reading our favorite book while swinging in a hammock. Perhaps with a glass of wine. And as much as I’m here for all of these things, self-care goes way beyond face masks and bubble baths. There is another side to self-care, one that’s not often discussed in this self-care conversation. It’s working on yourself.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is any activity that we do purposely in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It seems simple in theory. However, it’s something we very often overlook. A good self-care practice can help to improve mood and reduce anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with both others and yourself.

Self-care has a catchphrase in the social media world. Self-care isn’t selfish. And, well, that’s actually correct. True, you do have to consider your own needs. But more so you need to know how to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others as well. Consider the oxygen mask demonstration on a plane. We are told to place our own oxygen mask before helping others. If you do not take care of yourself, you can’t care for your loved ones either.

Five Categories of Self-Care

There are five main categories of self-care. They include sensory, emotional, spiritual, physical, and social.

Sensory Self-Care

Sensory self-care is all about helping to calm your mind. Some know it as mindfulness. As this aims to tune into the details of the sensations around you. And when you are focused on the present, it’s much easier to let go of past resentments and future worry.

Remember, many of you have all five senses: touch, smell, sound, site, and taste. We tend to be more responsive to some senses over others. So, make sure to take the time to figure out what specific sensory self-care will help you. Examples include:

  • Cuddling in a warm, soft blanket, fresh from the dryer.
  • Getting outside in nature to smell the fresh air.
  • Having a massage with essential oil.
  • Eating a small square of chocolate.
  • Felling the water on your skin in a warm bath or shower.

Emotional Self-Care 

I’m not going to lie, emotional self-care is difficult to achieve. Few of us want to face our emotions head-on. More of us choose to ignore and deny them. I know that sadness and anger aren’t great feelings to sit with. And you may be tempted to push them down. But it’s actually healthier to feel them. That way, you can accept them, and move on.

Many of us associate emotions as either good or bad. But that isn’t the case at all. Try to think of your emotions more so as warnings. Your emotions are just trying to tell you something. That in itself isn’t bad (or good). It’s all in how you respond to that emotion. Examples include:

  • See a therapist, even if it’s only for a few sessions of general personal development.
  • Keep a daily journal. Use it as a diary or find a bullet journal mood tracking template on Pinterest.
  • Write a list of feeling words to expand your emotional vocabulary. And better be able to describe what you are feeling.
  • Let yourself cry when you are sad and laugh with old memories or funny videos.

Spiritual Self-Care

If you aren’t religious, don’t skip this section. Spiritual self-care isn’t just believing in a deity. It can help atheists, agnostics, and religious people alike. Think of it as getting in touch with your values. Define what really matters to you.

Self-care tips for depression tend to stress developing a sense of purpose. This sense of purpose is vital to recovery. Examples include:

  • Keeping a daily mindfulness or meditation practice.
  • Write down some affirmations that ground you to your sense of self and purpose.
  • Start a gratitude practice.
  • Be creative. Write, paint, play music, draw – do what brings you joy.
  • Make a list of the things that make you feel alive. Try to incorporate them into your daily life.

Physical Self-Care

We’ve covered both spiritual and emotional health. Physical health has a category as well. Physical activity and wellness are vital to our quality of life. Not to mention, it allows you to let off some steam. Examples of physical self-care include:

  • Dancing to your favorite song.
  • Try a yoga practice.
  • Go for a long walk or scenic hike.
  • Join the company intramural team or learn a new sport.
  • Walk your (or your friend’s!) dog around your favorite park.

And remember. Physical self-care includes the things you don’t do as well. Allow your body to rest and recover when it needs to.

Social Self-Care

We all have different social needs. Some of us identify as extroverts. Others as introverts. Some thrive off of socializing. And yet others have a social anxiety. But no matter how you identify, human connection is something that brings happiness to many.

Social self-care shows us that we aren’t alone in our struggles. It can help us feel less isolated and invisible. Social self-care isn’t about doing things with others solely for the sake of it. But rather about choosing to spend your time with those that make you feel good. Examples include:

  • Schedule a dinner or lunch date with a great friend.
  • Reach out to someone you haven’t seen or a while or has moved far away.
  • Stop socializing with those who don’t value you.
  • Join a group or a club that have the same interests or share the same struggles as you.
  • Sign up for a class you’ve been wanting to take. You’ll learn things you’ve always wanted to, all while meeting new people!

Allow Us to be a Part of Your Self-Care Routine

Yes, warm blankets and sheet masks are nice, but as we’ve learned, self-care goes way beyond that. If you struggle with creating an effective self-care routine, contact us today. We know this may be a hard decision to make. But again, we want to say that there is no shame in needing a bit of extra support. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients. So check out our videos to learn more about how we can help come out of therapy.


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.

Danielle A. LeFevre

Danielle A. LeFerve is a Nationally Certified Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health. She has an eclectic history of work experience which has afforded her the opportunity to work with both children and adults. She is knowledgeable in the areas concerned with Mood disorders, ODD, conduct disorders, crisis management, trauma, suicidality, family conflict, and life transitions. And she uses a person-centered, humanistic approach along with cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and attachment theory. She understands that life is a journey, one of which that is not always a smooth ride. That’s why she is here, to help you navigate the detours. She is passionate about facilitating a healthy overall well-being for all individuals, as she works to help you further your life goals.