A deep understanding of your character, abilities, values, and emotions
Parts of Self Knowledge:
Character: The five parts of your personality, which you can remember with the acronym OCEAN. The first is openness to experience, which measures whether you prefer routine or tend to be more spontaneous and imaginative. Conscientiousness, the second part of personality, deals with being more impulsive or disciplined. The third is extroversion; whether you gain energy from other people or alone time. Agreeableness, the fourth, describes how trusting and cooperative you are, and neuroticism judges how susceptible you are to stress and intense emotions.
Remember: Each trait is a spectrum, and people very rarely fall into the extremes of each category
Values: Qualities that you believe are important, and which guide your decisions in life. These values can come from family, religion, or society at large. Examples include honesty, kindness, connection with others, loyalty, etc. Sometimes, these values may be compromised, but you make an effort to uphold them every day.
Abilities: Skills that allow you to complete certain tasks. Your skills can be specialized, like learning to play a specific instrument, or general like time management and self motivation. These abilities can be learned almost anywhere, from school, free time, clubs, and private lessons.
Emotions: Signals that allow your mind and body to get what it needs. There are a variety of emotions, but the main groups are joy, sadness, anger, disgust, fear, surprise, and interest. Keep in mind that we rarely feel one emotion at a time, and mixtures of different emotions are common.
- Better Decision Making
Understanding what you value and how you react to different situations will lead to decisions that leave you more satisfied in the long run
- Self Control
Self knowledge leads to an idea of what motivates you and what does not. Therefore, you can identify instances where self control is difficult and build strategies off of it
When you understand the habits and practices that bring you joy, it becomes far easier to implement them into your every day life
- Kindness to Others
Realizing your own flaws and shortcomings will help you empathize with others who struggle in the same areas
The benefits above, such as decision making, self control, and happiness will all lead to success. That does not mean you will not occasionally fail, but you can work towards your goals
Steps Toward Self Knowledge:
- Daily Reflection
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Discovering Your Values and Boundaries
- Understanding and Processing Emotions
Taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health
Self care encompasses a variety of habits that steadily improve your health in every aspect of your life. There are eight categories, which we will go over below. However, it will be comforting to note that simply researching information regarding your well being is a form of self care. So, by reading this article, you are taking care of yourself!
Self Care is NOT:
- A Luxury
Taking care of yourself is not something to work into your schedule if you have time. Instead, it is important to incorporate as a central part of your day, allowing you to move forward productively.
- A Reward
These healthy habits are not meant to reward a good day of work. In fact, that may cause more stress because you would have to finish your work before taking a break and staying healthy. Instead, work it in regularly to have enough energy for the day.
- A Rigid Schedule
Self care cannot always be a set routine, and treating it as such will be difficult on busy days. Therefore, give yourself some grace, and utilize these strategies when you start to feel uncomfortable or tired.
- A Solution to a Problem
Staying healthy and caring for yourself is not just for struggling individuals. Everyone needs self care.
- Longer lifespan
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Better stress management
- Improved immune system
- Increased productivity and concentration
- More energy
- Prevents burnout
Self care reduces excess stress, putting your body under less pressure and allowing your mind to reset. Hence, the numerous benefits for your physical and mental health.
Learn about the eight types of self care here.
Eating out of boredom or stress can cause excessive weight gain and may lead to binge eating. During a binge eating episode, you feel as though you cannot stop eating once you begin, and it can become very serious.
Stress napping when you are not sleep deprived and sleeping late to avoid the coming day can lead to problems such as an increased risk of diabetes, anxiety, and obesity.
- Repeatedly venting to others
Venting to others can be very helpful when dealing with a crisis. However, continually venting about the same bad situation can keep you in that negative mindset.
- Overextending yourself for other people
Kindness is always a virtue, until it comes before your own needs. For example, if a friend asks you for help on an assignment, but it makes you feel stressed about your own work, do not accept. It will lead to burnout and anger.
- Pushing exercise until you feel sick
If you feel sick or unreasonably uncomfortable while exercising, stop immediately. Exercising for self care is about feeling more confident and healthy, not about burning calories or getting skinny.
Before Forming a Plan Consider:
- Time Constraints
Most people have a busy schedule, from school, sports, and extracurricular activities, and self care should not add more to the pile. Therefore, plan self care activities that align with breaks in the day. A helpful example can be found here.
Planning too many self care habits into the day can cause unnecessary stress, which is the opposite of our goal. So, pick one or two habits from each category, except for physical self care because all of those practices are vital. Remember that one habit can satisfy multiple categories.
Pick a few habits you can practice every day. For example, a twenty minute meditation may be impossible to maintain every day for spiritual self care, but writing one thing you are grateful for can satisfy that category regardless of how busy you are.
Getting an accountability buddy, setting a chart where you can see it, or putting reminders on your phone can all help to make a habit out of self care. It is especially important when you first start.
Making a Self Care Plan:
- Identify your needs and how you attend to them currently
The eight categories of self care account for your needs each day, so building off of those categories will be the starting point. Also, identifying the self care you already put into practice can reveal needs that are already met and needs that require attention. This worksheet may be helpful.
- Make a list of self care methods that are right for you
When selecting self care habits, make sure to focus on the needs that you identified above. You can choose any of the examples from the “Types of Self Care” page, or find examples here.
- Write down possible barriers that may appear
Hurdles that may prevent you from continuing self care can include a lack of motivation, guilt for putting time into self care instead of work, wanting to put others first, and time.
- Find ways to overcome those barriers
If you lack motivation, implement one habit at a time to ease into the process. If you feel guilt or put others first instead, remember that you cannot work or help people effectively without the proper energy to do so. Finally, if portioning time is difficult, try eliminating distractions during self care, and plan for it right when you wake up, before you go to sleep, and traveling between locations.
- Plan for emergency self care
In the event of extremely stressful or difficult circumstances, keeping a written plan at all times is very important. Another worksheet that can help you is linked here, but some general self care practices you can do anywhere include breathing exercises, listening to music, singing, remembering things you are grateful for, and writing your thoughts on your phone or a piece of paper.
Note: Your plan can and will change over time to fit your new needs. If a habit becomes uncomfortable or stressful, let it go.