Tips & Tricks

The Importance of Self-Care: #4 Intellectual Self-Care

“The quality of life we experience is in direct proportion to the quality of our thinking.”  ~essentiallifeskills.net

I have to admit until I started researching Intellectual Self-Care I didn’t know it was a thing. It is a very important part of self-care and makes so much sense that this would be.

We are all probably doing some form of this without even really knowing that we’re doing it.

What is Intellectual Self-Care?

This area of self-care it is all about being mentally stimulated and using our critical thinking skills.

As family caregivers this is huge. How many hours do we spend in waiting rooms, or sitting around observing our loved one during the day? How many times do we need to assess a situation for the pros and cons it will have for our loved one and help guide them to the right decision for their best care?

Many of us work other jobs along with being a caregiver which is great! As a working caregiver, we get some kind of mental stimulation from the critical thinking we need to do in our jobs. Yet, it is also important that we are expanding our critical thinking into other parts of our lives.

Through Intellectual Self-Care you’ll explore problem-solving, creativity, learning, and keep up-to-date with current events, issues, and new technologies. We are striving towards expanding and challenging our minds. By learning to harness our critical thinking skills we will start to see problems as stepping stones and not stumbling blocks.

What is Critical Thinking?

When I think critical thinking I think about my college course and long essays on equally long reading assignments. I also think high school English class at the end of chapter questions, the last one always being: “Using your critical thinking skills and explain why…”

Neither of these things made me jump for joy. However, looking back I think about what they actually prepared me for and how thinking critically has helped me tackle tough questions and make even tougher decisions.

According to essentiallifeskills.net,

“By thinking critically, instead of reacting emotionally to a problem, we employ strategies which:

  • Help us learn from an experience
  • Help prevent it from occurring again
  • Result in a reasonable, effective solution”

Sounds exactly like what we need to do as caregivers on a regular basis. As caregivers, our emotions are also on the highest setting because we are making decisions that could potentially affect our loved ones lives in a positive or negative way. We are also navigating whatever relationship we have with them which takes its own set of critical thinking and elicits all kinds of emotions, as well. We are organizing two sets of lives, ours and our loved ones. Being able to organize our thinking, integrate the info at hand, distinguish between fact and fiction, and weigh the potential outcomes is key.

Emotions are vital to what we do and we should never deny ourselves the ability to feel those emotions and sit with them, as needed. Yet, being able to decipher why you are feeling the way you feel helps us move in a more positive direction.

Intellectual Self-Care is about:

  • Being curious, having a strong desire to learn
  • Exercising our minds
  • Being open-minded
  • Developing new ideas and ways of thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Learning how to be flexible and inclusive
  • Exposure to new experiences
  • Nurturing creativity

Intellectual Self-Care promotes:

  • Balancing emotions
  • Staying informed to make good decisions and use good judgment
  • Positive attitudes in difficult situations
  • Improved vocabulary
  • Improved imagination
  • Staying motivated
  • Learning self-discipline, being self-monitored
  • Having perspective
  • Being alert, improving focus
  • Improved short-term and long-term memory functions

That seems like a lot which can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. No one is saying we need to all run out and get Ph.D.’s unless you want to run out and get a Ph.D., for which I say, “Good for you!”

To get those really great critical thinking skills it takes practice. Nothing is accomplished overnight, not even learning how to take better care of ourselves. It’s all a process.

Need a little inspiration to get started?

Here are some activities you can do that will serve as Intellectual Self-Care:

  • Read books, as many different genres as you can
  • Listen to audiobooks if you’re always on-the-go
  • Discover new music
  • Watch movies and documentaries
  • Go to a play or a musical performance
  • Use those critical thinking skills and blog about any of the above activities that you’ve done
  • Blog about what you’ve learned or are struggling with during your caregiving journey with individuals who are also caregiving over at caregiving.com
  • Expose yourself to new people, cultures, and ideas
  • Visit a museum
  • Go to a community activity that focuses on history or cultural events
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Engage in healthy debates
  • Learn a new language
  • Get creative (paint, write, draw, dance, write your own story, sew, pottery…)
  • Meditate (helps promote clarity of mind for all that critical thinking you need to do)
  • Find a new hobby (like building models or dolls)
  • Try puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, and strategy or board games
  • Volunteer or advocate for a special cause
  • Read about new research and developments
  • Take a class (always wanted to learn to play the violin, it’s never too late to learn)
  • Teach someone something you are skilled at doing

Stay tuned for our next installment: Dimension #5 – Spiritual Self-Care

Websites used for reference:

essentiallifeskills.net

Joimoi.net

The Onyx Review – http://onyxreview.agnesscott.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Xiong.M_IntellectualSelfCare.pdf

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