In today’s world we are given the impression that if we take care of ourselves, we are being selfish. However, we have come to know that if we do not care for ourselves, we cannot care for others.
A main component of loving yourself is taking care of your entire self. It is necessary to look at all of the areas that make up who you are: mental, spiritual, social, emotional, physical and vocational.
• The mental area involves the use of your mind to create a greater understanding and appreciation of yourself and others. Use your mental resources to create and expand your knowledge, to keep your mind alert and active.
One of the best ways is to participate in lifelong learning activities of all kinds, whether that’s job skills or taking up a hobby. A healthy mind is your best asset in this fast-paced world.
• The spiritual area requires you to spend some time seeking meaning and purpose in your life; this does not mean that you have to have all of the answers. It is important to know your personal values, goals and ethics.
It is also important to draw on the spiritual resources of your personal belief system.
Each person will approach this differently. The capacity for love, forgiveness, compassion, joy and peace are this area’s characteristics. To be spiritually balanced is to be in harmony with oneself and others.
• Creating and maintaining healthy relationships, while making positive contributions to your community, is what the social area is all about.
No matter what your life is like, social contact is essential for a healthy body. Relationships help you to learn how to love and be loved. A good support system is essential. As social beings, we interact every day with others. Enjoy being with others and develop positive interactions.
• The emotional area emphasizes an awareness and acceptance of your feelings. It reflects the degree to which you feel positive and excited about your self and life. Taking care of your body emotionally means feeling the full range of emotions and expressing those emotions appropriately.
To have balance, you need to strive to meet emotional needs constructively, to respond resiliently to the flow of everyday life. It means dealing with a variety of situations sensibly, continuing to learn more about yourself and how things you do affect your feelings. It is taking responsibility for your own behavior and responding to challenges as opportunities.
• The physical area looks at increasing your knowledge for achieving a healthy lifestyle by optimizing your body through good nutrition, physical activity and avoiding risks to your health.
Balancing nutritional practices, and getting regular exercise and enough sleep are important in loving yourself. Paying attention to the warning signs and symptoms of your body are essential to physical wellness.
• The vocational area is the mixing and balancing of your work life with your interests, skills, personality and values. In order to achieve balance, it is important to examine the strengths and skills you enjoy using. It is also important to look at your work values and interests; these are what you need in your work life to be content and happy.
Look at yourself on a daily basis; think about what makes you happy and why. The vocational area evolves over time. There are no right or wrong answers, so just be honest with yourself. We need to prioritize what is important and come to terms with what can be sacrificed.
Do not be afraid to ask yourself what makes you happy.
Chloe D. Merrill is on the faculty of the Weber State University department of child and family studies. The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WSU.