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The difference between short-term and long-term selfcare

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Self care is a buzzword that has been used for a lot of things in recent years, but essentially it is "doing things to care for your own wellbeing and mental health". Selfcare is a multifaceted term that covers all elements of our wellbeing - emotional, mental, physical, social, moral....

Alongside this, for me, self care is split into 2 categories - Short term self care & long term self care - which accounts for the care which addresses any current/ongoing issues we're facing, looks into maintaining our wellbeing, and adds in preventative forms of care too.

Short-term self care

I describe short-term self care as, "the little things we do for ourselves on a day-to-day basis which have an immediate positive short-term impact on our wellbeing". Short term examples:

💚 Going for a walk, a run, doing yoga, meditation, or mindfulness - exercise, especially exercise which allows time to process thoughts and emotions, can be so useful in maintaining wellbeing on multiple fronts. Even fitting in a 10minute brisk walk a day has been shown to have benefits.

💚 Having a bath or spending longer in the shower in order to relax and refresh. These can be a good way of metaphorically cleaning of the negative emotion from the previous/current day, i.e. to leave that behind, ground yourself, and focus on the current moment.

💚 Playing games, watching TV/Film, reading a book, or listening to music - i.e. spending time on your hobbies that bring you some emotional relief.

💚 Writing or journaling - Journaling/Writing are documented ways of helping to process thoughts and emotions so people often find these particularly useful when anxiety is heightened or to help collect their thoughts when stressed.

💚 Eating your favourite meal, baking, cooking, takeaway etc. - food/nutrition is also something that can have a massive health impact and emotional benefits. Of course, if you're favourite foods are heavy in sugar/fat/carbs then this form of self-care is best to be used in moderation to avoid it becoming a maladaptive way of coping causing harm.

Long-term self care:

Long-term self care for me is described as, "bigger more impactful forms of care which have a longer lasting impact on your wellbeing, however these can be more complex due to the nature of life".

Long term examples:

💚 Reassessing your job & career as to whether it is fulfilling your needs - It can be useful to ask yourself the questions around what it is you get value out of within your life and if your job is a priority in fulfilling these needs - if so is this something you need to address and look into other forms of work (where possible) or are you able to get value & fulfilment out of other areas of life instead.

💚 Managing your physical health & nutrition by setting up long term routines or goals - it's a known fact that our physical health can have a big impact on our mental health, so it can be worth looking into nutritional changes to help alleviate any unhelpful dietary habits.

💚 Reflecting on your inner narrative to challenge how you talk to yourself (therapy is useful for this 😜) - This can be really hard work when our inner voice has been influenced and moulded by so many harmful/traumatic situations, but they way we talk to ourselves really does matter and so challenging these critical and negative voices can be so useful in the long-term.

💚 Saying 'no' to opportunities or events when you're starting to feel overwhelmed with activity - looking at your boundaries and what you're able to manage with the energy we have is vital. It can be difficult to start finding our voice when setting health boundaries but there are many ways to say no to situations. Again therapy can be helpful when looking at how to challenge this within yourself and then implementing the boundaries within your life.

💚 Taking stock of your finances - maybe you want to spend more in yourself to feel more comfortable in your environment and if affordable or maybe you want to save more to have a financial buffer.

These are only a few ideas for what self-care can look like. Self care is different for everyone, it is about assessing your own needs and refilling your own wellbeing 'cup'.

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