“It could be anything that floats your boat — anything that puts a smile on your face,” Dr. Gill Lopez says. “Anything that makes you feel cared for, even if it's you caring for yourself.” There are a few different categories of self-care:
Emotional self-care, such as self-talk, weekly bubble baths, saying “no” to things that cause unnecessary stress, giving yourself permission to take a pause, or setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend
Physical self-care, such as prioritizing sleep, adopting an exercise routine you can stick with, choosing healthy and nourishing foods over highly processed ones
Spiritual self-care, such as attending a religious service, spending time in nature, meditating, incorporating regular acts of kindness into your day, or keeping a gratitude journal
Additionally, Gill Lopez puts self-care into two further categories: temporary and enduring. An example of temporary self-care is going to dinner with a friend. You’ll benefit from the social connection, but it won’t last for very long after you part ways. Enduring self-care, on the other hand, has more permanent effects. Gill Lopez says an example of this is practicing mindfulness regularly, because it leads to brain changes, she says. According to a study (one of many on this topic) published in Psychiatry Research, eight weeks of mindfulness training led to changes in gray matter concentrations in the brain areas involved with learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking. “You reap the benefits of mindfulness whether you're [actively] doing it or not,” Gill Lopez says.