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The 7 Types of Self-Care For A New Normal

I used to cringe when I heard the phrase “self-care.”

To me, self-care was synonymous with overconsumption of “luxury” products and a way to make people – especially women – feel guilty about attending to our needs. I don’t have time to have a spa day Barbara Blogger! (not a real blogger, but you know what I mean).

Then, when desperately searching for sleep tips on Pinterest one night, I came across an article that changed my entire perception.

There are 7 Types of Self-Care:

  1. Physical
  2. Mental/Emotional
  3. Spiritual
  4. Intellectual
  5. Environmental
  6. Financial
  7. Social


Aha! Self-care should actually be viewed as something more holistic. Self-care isn’t just an “all or nothing” spa day, it’s a way of integrating things that bring you joy and wellness into your daily life. Accordingly, self-care isn’t a luxury for only people who can afford it – it’s a practice that can be done in your way.

And if you’re like me, self-care is looking a lot differently for you in this “new normal.”

I think it’s apt time we reclaim and redefine self-care in 2021. It’s critical that we let go of the expectations and life we had pre-pandemic (despite your Facebook reminders constantly bringing you pre-covid nostalgia). Instead of focusing on the things that can’t be done, focus on what’s possible now.

A new self-care journey is possible now! Here are some practical ways to practice self-care within the 8 types in the new normal and beyond:

Reminder: Self-care is different for everyone. These are just examples of how you can integrate these 8 types into your to-do list.

1. Physical

Physical self-care is tending to the needs of your physical health.

Physical self-care includings getting quality rest, regularly exercising, and nourishing your body with the right foods and drinks.

I personally consider physical health the foundations of many of the other types, because a healthier body can affect so many different aspects of your life.

"I'm all about body positivity and self-love because I believe that we can save the world if we first save ourselves."

Practicing physical wellness looks different now: people are working out from home and the body positivity movement is making many strides, in the U.S. at least.

Thanks to the lockdowns of last year, I found several new hiking spots with my dog that I would have never taken before. Now, I hike every Sunday – and that was a step forward for me. Physical wellness will look different for you. Walking just 30 minutes a day can provide incredible benefits.

2. Mental/Emotional

Mental/emotional self-care is complex but in short – it’s reducing stress and practicing things like gratitude and empathy. Sometimes mental and emotional self-care are seperated, but I feel they are instrincily tied together.

We have a huge mental care accessibility issue in the United States. Not only is it stigmatized in conversion, but it’s expensive and often difficult to get proper care. We’re all fighting our own fight, but as someone who suffers from anxiety disorder and chronic nightmares, here are some things that helped me:

  • Read Books Written by Experts If You Can’t Afford a Therapist
  • Take Intentional Breaks. Literally set timers to do something that turns your brain off. (I watched one episode of cheesy sitcoms)
  • Write Down Everything You’re Grateful For / that makes your life good right now. It will give you perspective.

3. Spiritual

Spiritual self-care is whatever gives you a sense of deep purpose and calm, no matter what you believe.

Spiritual self-care is not limited to religious practices. Some examples of how you could practice spirituality are:

  • Meditating / practicing yoga
  • Listening to your favorite music

Did you know Innovators Box publishes music for creativity? Check out here:

  • Spending time in nature

Spirituality is about being mindful and practicing deeper connections. I am certainly guilty of rushing through life (even when the world slowed down). I write fast, eat fast, and scroll through Twitter fast. Spirituality to me is intentionally doing things that slow me down and reflect on something deeper.

4. Intellectual

Intellectual self-care is stimulating and challenging your mind.

Our brains are always buzzing at work. As an innovator, you are probably already practicing self-care by dedicating yourself to becoming a learner and overcoming challenges every-day. However, if you’re like me, you feel a need to expand your knowledge outside of just your industry — because well, it’s fun (my nerd is probably showing).

Other ways I practice intellectual self-care is studying geology, collecting fossils, and even learning how to prepare tofu (it’s so elusive, but I’ll get it). The best part? I don’t NEED to do it at set times. I just do it when my curiosity peaks.

5. Environmental

Environmental self-care is creating spaces that make you feel good.

Businesses have known the importance of environmental factors on our decision making for decades. Ever wondered why fast-food places are oftentimes covered in red branding? It’s because red makes you hungry.

Creating an environment that works for you can be as simple as adding some house plants or as intensive as creating a whole new office space (which is what I did). The other way you can look at this, is environmental in terms of our planet being our home. As an environmental science grad, I would be remiss not to mention this.

Photo courtesy of BBC News

Let’s take the opportunity of a “new normal” to rethink the things we do to harm the earth and the beings that live on it (including ourselves). Environmentalism starts with the mindset that progress is better than perfection, and that little changes will create a snowball effect.

6. Financial

Financial self-care is contrary to popular belief, not chasing six figure salaries. It’s about financial; security.

Financial self-care is self-explanatory: Setting budgets, creating long-term financial goals, planning for retirement, NOT buying yet ANOTHER iced coffee.

Money is certainly not the most important aspect of wellness, but it does play a key role in feeling safe. As Cynthia Catchings, L.C.S.W.-S., therapist of Talkspace said:

“When we experience financial difficulties, we tend to ruminate and create more negative thoughts that perpetuate the negativity cycle."

7. Social

Social-self care is another way of improving your environment – with the right people.

Having a support network was a core component of getting through 2020 and beyond. Again, I’m one of those pesky extroverts who want to talk to people all the time. So I adapted with zoom calls and social distanced visits. My cousins and I even started writing ol-fashioned letters to each other to stay connected.

Practicing social self-care could mean picking up the phone and calling a friend or even creating boundaries at work. It also means knowing when to STOP socializing and giving yourself alone-time to recharge.

About the Author

Picture of Sarah Bloodworth

Sarah Bloodworth

Sarah Bloodworth is a writer and sustainability & culture specialist located in Austin, Texas. She studied Journalism and Environmental Science At The University of Texas at Austin and partly at the University of Sheffield in the UK. She worked as a freelance writer for several years, eventually founding my own LLC where she helped mission-driven organisations understand and connect with their audiences through clear, impactful communications. She now works at Flex International, a global manufacturing partner dedicated to creating products that improve people’s lives and make the world a better place. Her specialties include writing/editing, research, customer relations, community-building, and data. The views Sarah expresses are her’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Flex.

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