What is Self-Care?
Updated: Aug 2
Put simply, self-care is recognising what makes us feel good and then doing it. Self-care is literally the difference between surviving and thriving. It is taking responsibility for yourself, your happiness and your life.
There are many forms of self-care, different things we can do to ensure that we are both happy and healthy within our lives. Self-care looks and feels different from one person to the next as everyone has individual needs, interests and desires. Below, I have listed everything I can think of in the following categories: Physical, Mental and Emotional. However, there may be things that make you feel good which are not on this list - if that's the case, keep doing whatever makes you feel good! Just because it is not on my list, doesn't mean that it isn't self care. Do let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org what your form of self-care is, I'd be really interested to know!
Physical self-care relates to everything that you can physically do to and with your body and with yourself.
This may seem like an obvious one but it is something that most of us slip up on regularly! Making sure we have a good, balanced diet with the vitamins and minerals we each need is one the main ways to feel good inside your body. Having a healthy diet not only makes your body feel good and gives you the energy you need on a daily basis but also the self satisfaction you get from eating right is all part of self-care.
Consuming healthy drinks goes hand in hand with having a healthy diet. We all know that the majority of our bodies are made up of water so the most natural and healthy drink to have would be water. Many of us drink a lot of sugary or caffeinated drinks such as pop, tea and coffee which can be mood altering and also take away from the water content in your drink which can be quite destructive on your body, leaving you dehydrated. Water gives you energy and life, try and drink as much of it as you can throughout the day to take care of your health.
Regular exercise is a form of self-care. Keeping yourself active and moving is a sure way to keep your energy levels high and keep your body in a healthy state. This could be full sessions in the gym or a simple walk for 20 minutes a day or a morning yoga session. Exercise also helps you to work off any pent up stress and anxieties you may have, which helps to release the tension and the emotion in a good and healthy way. However you choose to exercise, keep yourself moving every day, even for a little while, to feel energised and healthy as well as releasing those all important feel good hormones.
Just as important as exercise is relaxation. Taking the time to rest your body when it needs rest is a great way to maintain an optimal energy level. Part of self-care is keeping yourself balanced and the best way to do this, to ensure a balanced mind and body is to rest when you need to rest. Overworking can lead to all sorts of stress related problems and can lead to burnout which is counter productive so taking those extra breaks (even just for 15 mins) can make the world of difference in your daily life.
Doesn't sleep feel good? I don't know anyone who doesn't like sleep! Making sure you get between 6-8 hours of sleep every night keeps your mind, body and emotions in line. Sleep is when your body recharges and heals itself from the day's excursions. If your body is unable to recharge and heal, guess what, you feel like crap the next morning. And the cycle repeats itself, leaving you, your mind, your body and emotionally exhausted - craving for that morning shot of caffeine. Why not feel naturally invigorated with a bit of self-care and sleep!
Treats are the little things we give ourselves to keep ourselves motivated and feeling good. Treats can be a gift you purchase for yourself - like a new dress or handbag. Or, treats can be something you eat or drink such as a slice of chocolate cake or a glass of wine. Additionally, a treat could be something you do - such as a day out or a hobby you love to do. Maintaining our health is difficult which is why a few treats now and again to feel good makes all the difference.
Treating Your Body Right
Making sure you treat your body right is key to your health and your happiness. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercise routine and resting are things we should be doing anyway. Now, treating your body right, is where self-care really shines. These are the extra little things we can do to take care of ourselves and feel especially good:
Understanding what your body needs and then just giving it
This is literally the basis of self-care - recognising what makes us feels good and then doing it. The first bit - recognising - is probably the most difficult part of the process. We lead such busy lives now. Our attention is so focussed on demands from everything else around us such as work, families, technology, social media, the news that we forget and no longer recognise the needs and demands from ourselves.
To feel good, we just need to take a beat, listen to our bodies and give it what it needs. If it needs rest, rest. If it needs exercise, exercise. If it needs a big fat slice of chocolate cake then have a big fat slice of chocolate cake!
Self-care is recognising what makes us feel good and then doing it. So recognise what makes you feel good and then do it!! Read that again.
Take time for yourself
When was the last time you spend some quality time alone? Taking some time for yourself helps you to connect with yourself, get to know yourself and understand yourself better. You don't need to sit in silence (although, sometimes this may be what you need!), you can go for a nice enriching walk, watch your favourite film, take a nice hot bath, or some time out to do a hobby such as crafting, reading or baking. However alone time looks for you, do something you enjoy to bring you some peace and reconnect with yourself.
The favourite and most known form of self-care - a good old pamper. Getting your face steamed and putting that mask on. Some time in the bath with a bath bomb and some Enya songs (inspired by friends). And then covering yourself in a nice smooth lotion which makes your skin glow. Pure luxury.
Indulging Your Senses
Indulging your senses is another sure way to self-care and feeling good. The five senses are: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Why not indulge these senses by admiring something beautiful, listening to your favourite song, really tasting your favourite food, touching something soft and comforting and smelling something amazing. These are little things you can add to your day to make your daily life a little more pleasurable.
I mentioned hobbies a few times above but I wanted to have a little section about what a hobby is as not many people seem to have hobbies anymore due to our busy lives. A hobby is an activity you enjoy taking part in. Such as walking, reading and cooking. It also can including things like gaming, crafting, journaling and relaxing. Take a little time to list your hobbies and what you love to do, once you know what you like, you can keep doing it and make it part of your daily routine to keep feeling good.
Sex and self-pleasure is also a form of self-care. Sex and sexual stimulation is something our bodies crave. If we don't meet our needs sexually, it can start to have adverse affects on not only ourselves physically but also mentally and emotionally too. So take the time to get your satisfaction - in the way you like it - to feel good.
Getting Rid of What Doesn't Serve You
Getting rid of things which no longer serve you is a great way to self-care. Looking after and tending to your environment and surroundings enables you to express yourself and create a beautiful haven for yourself.
All those things you don't like cluttering up your home or those gifts which you have no interest in - get rid. Removing these items from your home makes room for all the new you things that you want to have in your home.
Of course, your environment is not just limited to your home but also the people you have in your life, your job, your activities, your beliefs and emotions holding you back. Take stock of your life and get rid of anything you have outgrown and see what difference it makes on your daily happiness.
Ultimately, self-preservation is the reason behind self-care. If we do not take care of ourselves, then just like anything else, we deteriorate. It's time to start putting yourself first. It is time to look your own life and make the changes you need to make in order to thrive - not just survive. Take control of your own happiness, your own health and your own life.
Mental self-care relates to everything that you can do mentally to self-care, including things like self-love which is born in your mind but helps all areas of yourself and your outer world too.
Finding peace in mindfulness is the ultimate act of self-care. Meditation, whether seated or moving like yoga or Tai Chi, or just simply stepping away from the mind and our thoughts and being in the present moment is a truly peaceful and pleasurable experience.
Tending to Your Mind Garden
You are what you think. Using mindful techniques, you can have more control over your thoughts and what goes on in your mind. Many of us have this rambling, subconscious voice in our heads which reminds us of the negative things about us - our flaws, our mistakes, our embarrassing moments and keeps us in this perpetual negative state. However, if we actively control what our minds think, we can create a positive space for ourselves to be in to keep ourselves feeling good. Our minds are gardens and we can choose whether we grow flowers or weeds. The choice is yours.
Recognising and Managing Your Mental Needs
If you suffer from any mental neurosis or disorders such as anxiety or depression, recognising you have these conditions and when you are in an anxious or depressed state is half way to getting relief. Once you know you are in that space, you can prevent yourself from spiralling and then managing your symptoms. So for example, I know that I am anxious when my mind is racing, my thoughts become negative, my heart beats faster and I get butterflies. Once I know I'm in this state, I can actively calm myself down by acknowledging that I feel anxious, bringing myself in to the present moment, releasing the emotion and then letting it pass naturally. This prevents you from getting too deep and gives you the relief and self-care you need during these times.
Managing Mood Altering Habits
If our bodies are not being provided with the right natural ingredients, it will affect our moods on a daily basis. To be in a happier place within yourself, give yourself the right foods, drinks, exercise and sleep and you will find that not only will your body and mind will feel healthier but you will be generally happier as a result.
Self Awareness, Self Acceptance, Self Compassion and Self-Love
Having an awareness of yourself, who you are as a person, what you like, what you dislike and how you behave can make you feel good. Understanding yourself better will lead to you building a life around you which you feel comfortable in and works for you.
You can also use this knowledge of yourself to give yourself acceptance rather than seeking approval from outside of yourself and give yourself the compassion and love that you long for. This is the ultimate goal of self-care - to feel good, not only on the outside but on the inside too. Feeling good from the inside creates a certain beauty from within you. You shine.
Emotional self-care relates to everything that you can do on an emotional level to process, manage and express your emotions in a healthy way.
Processing, Honouring and Accepting Emotions
Most people have been taught that showing emotion or even feeling emotion is bad. However, supressing emotion is one of the biggest factors of anxiety because it can lead to to be in conflict with yourself. One of the biggest things you can do to self-care is processing your emotions in a good and healthy way. Emotions, as much as we don't like some of them, are part of being human. We cannot help how we feel. Therefore, rather than to resist emotions, the better way to handle emotions would be to acknowledge and accept how you feel (whether you like them of not), understand why you feel this way, releasing the emotion (talking/writing/crying) and then doing something else while the emotion floats away in it's own time. Processing your emotions in this way will allow any emotion to pass through you with ease, keeping you feeling good for longer.
Recognising When Something Doesn't Feel Right.
Self-care is all about doing the things that make you feel good. But, if it doesn't make you feel good - you know this needs to change. When you become emotionally intelligent and you are able to recognise your emotions, accept them and act on them, you will start to notice when things don't feel right. Whether this be an item in your home which no longer suits you, a person in your life which needs to be removed or an activity you no longer enjoy. Your emotions are the key to help you make changes in your life and create and build the life you want around you.
Self-care is recognising what makes us feel good and then doing it. It is doing what makes us happy. It allows us to thrive and create a better lives for ourselves. Self-care is unfortunately seen as just a bit of pampering and giving yourself a treat once in a while. But in reality, self-care is bigger than this. Self-care is a life style, it is the way you take responsibility for yourself, your happiness, your life and everything in it and making it beautiful. Making it you.
Lots of love,