Self-care is often seen as a gift or something that you have to “earn” first. That’s a lie that we either tell ourselves or let other people tell us. Self-care is a necessity that creates a healthy environment for our mind, body, and spirit. Something all of us need. But what types of self-care are there and how can we be creative with self-care?

There are different levels of self-care. Some focus on taking care of the body, such as massages or mani-pedis. Some focus on taking care of your spirit and emotions such as talking to a therapist, journaling, yoga classes, even spiritual classes such as Bible classes or chanting.

These days, self-care can be broken down into different categories. Some say there are 6 categories: emotional, practical, physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Others say 8 by adding in environmental and financial categories. But I think there’s a blurred line between all of these categories and doing one thing is not just going to check off one box in one category.

Take a massage, for instance. Sure that’s a very physical thing. But it’s also an emotional and mental thing too. A massage is good for your body. But physical touch is tricky. There’s emotion behind that as well. Some people never get a massage because they are unable to lower their inner barriers to allow a stranger to touch them. Others have social or religious mores they are following that don’t allow them this indulgence.

But for those that do, they are getting their physical needs met, on top of getting mental and emotional needs met. And that’s what this post is about. How to get creative in meeting your self-care needs, including getting in touch with your creative side.

Self-Care and Laughing with Friends

First, let’s talk about girls’ evenings, day trips, weekends, etc. I’m sure most women have probably participated in some type of girlfriends-only event where they get together to laugh, tell stories, and participate. Whether it’s a luncheon, evening out on the town, a wine tasting…The point is, it’s girlfriends only and there is laughter involved.

These events help you to meet your social, emotional, and even mental needs when it comes to self-care. But if you plan it right, they can even meet your physical, and or your spiritual needs

When I used to live in Connecticut, my two girlfriends and I (we went to high school together) would go away for cross-country ski weekends. We would leave late Saturday afternoon for either somewhere in Vermont or New Hampshire. We’d book a bed and breakfast that had one room that we could all share and then stay up late playing cards, telling stories from high school, and laughing.

The next day, we’d go cross-country skiing where we’d still laugh, take pictures, eat snacks, tell more stories, and laugh some more. At some point, I’d stay in the lodge and journal about the event while the other two took in one more run. Then we’d find a restaurant to eat at and drive home.

While others might see that weekend as a physical excursion only, it was not. It’s so soul-soothing to laugh with girlfriends. We were able to get our physical, emotional, social, mental, and even spiritual needs met. Yes, standing on cross-country skis with the white snow below your skis, and the bright blue sky above you is a spiritual event.

On the other end of the scale is over-the-top pampering and although I’d sometimes do this by myself, I would also do this with girlfriends. Once a year, we’d indulge in a high-end spa. You know the type, a full-service spa that was attached to an Inn and also had a restaurant.

Massages, facials, mani-pedis, a full-size pool, work-out room, relaxation room, sauna, luxurious robes to wear all day…the whole works. In between treatments, we’d meet in the relaxation room for stories and laughs, wine and cheese. And because we went on a Monday (we all had that day off in common) we’d pretty much be the only people there for the full-day experience so that relaxation room was empty except for us.

Again, meeting those physical, social, mental, and emotional needs of self-care.

Art as Self-Care

If you’re looking for something different that doesn’t involve body treatments but includes other people, you can always arrange to take a class together such as one of those fun wine and painting or wine and pottery classes. More stories and laughter while creating art together.

A friend and I took a resin art class together. It was one of the first things we did with other people (masks on) during the pandemic and it was just what we needed to feel safe venturing out. A small class, mask requirements, fun, art, and wine.

You may notice that many of my fun events include wine but you don’t have to include it. Those paint and wine classes are actually a BYOB situation so you can bring any beverage of your choice.

But what if you want to create art on your own? Does that still count? Sure it does. I previously wrote about teaching myself to crochet in 2020. It was a complete act of self-care on my part. I was finding it hard to blog but felt a need to fulfill myself creatively. I took up crocheting. Something I’ve had a love/hate relationship with since my 20’s.

My sister Joni tried to teach me to crochet when I was on doctor’s orders for bed rest for a week during a problematic point of my pregnancy. She brought me books to read, crayons and coloring books, and yarn and a crochet needle. Oh, the patience she displayed trying to teach me. And oh…the lack of patience on my part in trying to learn. I wanted to be perfect and when I wasn’t, I put it away.

Over the years, she tried again and again. While we were able to do other crafts together, crocheting was not one of them. Then queue the pandemic and quarantines. I felt a need to do something when I couldn’t write, something to express my creativity. I tried crocheting. I watched videos over and over again learning one simple stitch and then a second one.

I created a scarf, then a better-looking one. Then I learned to make flowers and created a lot, each one looking better than the last. The lack of anything else going on during quarantine helped me to focus on crocheting. And made me feel a connection to my sister who had passed 5 years earlier.

It was the perfect self-care I needed at that time in life. Crocheting pulled me through (and yes, I will always make that pun!)

Finding time by yourself to pull out your sketchbook or learn a new craft are both examples of self-care–if you enjoy them. But if you dread doing it and only do it because someone told you you should…that’s not self-care, that’s torture. You’re creating more stress instead of relieving it.

Spirituality as Self-Care

If you find going to church relieves your stress and takes a load off your soul, then please go. If you want to attend Bible studies, retreats, yoga classes, walk a labyrinth, etc., then go to that.

One of my friends was a child psychologist who dealt with horrific situations every day. Each night, after his last patient, he would change into his yoga clothes and take a hot or power yoga class and leave it all on the mat. That and having his own therapist helped him to stay brilliant in a difficult role.

I liked my yoga and the yoga conferences and retreats but what really helped me connect to my spirituality and leave me calm and serene was chanting kirtan. I especially enjoyed being able to chant with Krishna Das anytime he was around.

The best time was one year before Easter. Three different artists, Snatam Kaur, Wah! and Krishna Das were together at one event. It started around noon and went well into the evening. The next day, I was still riding that high and it took me through a stressful family get-together without an issue.

I still love Kirtan and have several CDs that I’ll listen to in the car, especially during stressful traffic…so you know I was listening to it a lot while living in Orlando!

Self-care is important. I hope you get inspired to be creative with self-care and try some new things. But most importantly, I hope you are taking care of yourself.

Self-care is often seen as something that you have to "earn" first. That's a lie. Self-care is a necessity that creates a healthy environment for our mind, body, and spirit. But how can we be creative with self-care? #selfcare