The importance of self-care.

Updated: Mar 1

What do you think about when you think about self-care?

You may think that it is an inconvenience or you do not have time, well you have to make time. You can adopt activities to combat stress but if you are not taking care of yourself, your well-being will falter.

For example, you need to not only learn to relax, but you also need to ensure you have quality sleep, as you are not going to be able to exercise effectively if you are very tired. Likewise, going to the gym every so often will not relieve stress if you're not regularly consuming healthy and nutrient rich food. You need to take care of your basic needs first if you want your stress relief activities to be effective.

Self care is essential for everyone and is actually very important for all of us. Whenever you start a course of therapy, discussions in regards to self care will be one of the first topics on the agenda, especially as at this time self-care is even more important and steps should be taken whenever possible to do something that makes you feel mentally and physically better.

What does self-care mean?

Mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual self care is vital. Self-care can been defined as 'the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health. The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. 'expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care'

This means a conscious act taken in order to promote a persons own physical, mental, and emotional health. - Sleep, exercise, intellectual stimulus, diet, socialising, meditation.

Self-care and resilience.

It is vital for building resilience that assist and support in dealing with the stressful factors in a persons life. When you've taken measures to care for your mind and body you will be building the correct mindset to deal with life. Unfortunately, many of us see self-care as a luxury and little time is given to self-care, it is not seen as one of life's priority.

What is the cause of this lack of attention? A person may feel overwhelmed, tired, and ill-equipped to handle life's inevitable challenges. It's important to assess how you're caring for yourself in several different areas of life. so you can ensure you're caring for your mind and body.

Make self-care a priority.

There will always be other things to do, but don’t let these interrupt the time you set aside for self-care. Self-care should be given the same importance as other responsibilities. Set specific self-care goals. It’s difficult to follow through with vague goals, such as “I will take more time for self-care”. Instead, try something specific, such as “I will walk for 30 minutes every evening after dinner”. Remember SMART goals.

Make self-care a habit.

Going on one short jog and eating some fruit doesn’t eliminate health problems. Using self-care just once won’t have much effect on reducing stress. Choose activities that you can do often, and that you will stick with. Set boundaries to protect your self-care. You don’t need a major obligation to say “no” to others— your self-care is reason enough. Remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else’s. A few minutes of self-care is better than no self-care.

How can I adopt regular self-care?

You need to make it a habit. It takes about 30 days of doing something consistently to make it a habit. You need to get yourself used to doing something new, such as yoga, strength training or meditation. Adopt a positive mindset and push yourself, this is important as the negativity and the thought that you would rather do something else will creep into your mind. Poor habits also need to be restricted, if you are drinking alcohol regularly and consuming more that the recommended daily limit, the knock on affect will be that your mental and physical state will affect your ability to adopt self care.

What else can you do?

  • Assess your needs: Make a list of the different parts of your life and the most important activities that you take part in each day. This may include, education, your employment, relationships, and eating. This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Consider what stresses you out: Think about the aspects of these areas and others, what causes stress in each area? Consider ways that you might address the stress.

  • Devise self-care strategies: Think about activities that you can adopt, that will help you feel better in each of these areas of your life. Exercise, eating well, socialising etc.

  • Plan for the challenges: We live in a fast paced, busy society, challenges will emerge. So when you realise that you are neglecting a certain aspect of your life, create a plan for change to stop bad habits and the neglect of self care and healthy habits.

  • Take small steps: You do not have to take on everything all at once. Identify one small step to improve and move slowly, quality not quantity.

  • Schedule time to focus on your self care: Even when you feel like you don't have time to do one more thing, you have to push yourself. When you are caring for all aspects of yourself, you'll find that you are able to operate more effectively and efficiently.

  • Keep up with self-care: In the stressful times and the good times. Doing so will keep you in a healthy routine. Remember that self-care will be part of the reason as to why you are feeling good!

Sources and resources.


Paul Brown – Counsellor - CBT Practitioner - Well-being Coach

Mental Health First Aid Instructor | Workplace Well-being

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