Published on May 11, 2021

Self-Care: What It Is & Isn’t

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Self-care has become a term often associated with mental health, mental wellness, stress management or wellness in general. Despite it being heard more often, the actual concept is easily misunderstood and seldom used.

What is self-care?

Let’s start by clearing up some misconceptions:

  • Self-care is not retail therapy. Retail therapy is simply shopping to feel better or happier in that moment. Unfortunately, this is a “quick fix” with no positive or long-term impact on mental wellness. It also sends the message that self-care is a luxury instead of a necessity that is available to all.
  • Self-care is not an act of selfishness or lack of concern for others. This misconception causes feelings of guilt that lead to people denying themselves much needed care.
  • Self-care is more effective when used as prevention rather than as a reaction to mental distress. When self-care is a deliberate part of your routine it plays a major role in improved mood, reduced anxiety and healthier relationships with self and others.

What does self-care look like?

Self-care is:

  • Developing and adhering to a monthly budget to avoid stressful financial situations.
  • Scheduling routine wellness appointments to manage your health effectively.
  • Setting boundaries and learning to say no with no explanation.
  • Purposefully planning time for yourself throughout each day, even if it is only 10 minutes to process daily events.
  • Reaching out to a therapist for routine check-ins before life becomes too much.
  • Resolving traumas from the past to ensure they are not affecting your present behaviors.
  • Developing a healthy sleep routine instead of running on minimal hours of sleep yet expecting to perform at excelling levels.
  • Developing healthier eating habits and fitting some form of physical activity in your daily schedule.
  • Using relaxation/meditation exercises that can be done at any time during the day.
  • Having accountability partners.
  • Doing one relaxation exercise a day, whether it is taking a 30-minute walk or relaxing outside in a lounge chair.
  • Scheduling time to spend with the people you love.
  • Looking for opportunities to laugh.
  • Creating a “no” list of things you don’t like or no longer want to do. Examples might include not checking emails at night, not attending gatherings you don’t like and not answering your phone during mealtime.

Self-care is any activity that is done with the intent of caring for your mental, emotional, spiritual, social and physical health. You don’t have to wait for an ideal time to start caring for yourself. The right time is now.

If you are experiencing mental distress, please seek help from a mental health professional.

Don't wait for an ideal time to start caring for yourself. The right time is now.