Oh no .. you’re probably thinking. “Not another post about self-care”. We get it – it’s important. But what’s really the big deal about self-care? Self-care seems to be ‘the next big thing’ and it’s even got a trending hashtag (#selfcare), so surely it must be important – right? Well yes, it certainly has some proven benefits (Rupert & Dorociak, 2019), but the concept has also gotten mixed up in a whole lot of hype, to the point of being overused and confusing. Most people, when they hear the words self-care, think of bubble baths, yoga or meditating, but self-care is a whole lot more than that. We thought it would be refreshing to take a less hyped up look into the act of self-care and see if we can all be a little less hard on ourselves in the process. First, let’s get back to the basics.

Self-care is not a singular act or skill but rather a combination of different activities that are done for the purpose of tending to our needs (physically, emotionally, socially etc) – so it’s actually an ongoing process rather than something we do every now and again (Rupert & Dorociak, 2019). If we look at it this way, taking a bubble bath once a month isn’t really going to cut it – we’re talking about introducing routines into our daily lives that address each aspect of health and wellbeing. And the cool thing is, we can actually use self-care as a way to prevent us needing to stop and engage in rest/recovery to feel better – as prevention from burnout, illness and compassion fatigue.

You might be confused by this point – so self-care isn’t everything I see people doing on social media (#selfcare)? To that we would say both yes and no – it’s not just those things and it’s not doing them once or twice (and posting a photo about them for likes), but it is about doing the things that improve your health and wellbeing, and doing them regularly. Not surprisingly, it is also about the attitudes that we have towards looking after ourselves. In order to look after our needs, we first need to acknowledge what our needs are, and then we can seek out activities and measures to meet them (Posluns & Gall, 2020). This requires us to tune in to our own bodies and reflect on our routines, behavioural choices, the way we spend our time and our personal values – so that we can make active self-caring decisions.

In particular, anybody who is in a caring role (which is pretty much everyone if we think about parents, teachers, family members, therapists, nurses, friends etc) needs to learn how to take care of themselves to prevent negative health consequences (Posluns & Gall, 2020). You’ve probably heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” – without looking after yourself first, how can you expect to support/care for others? Whilst the idea of doing regular self-care might sound daunting to you, or like you definitely do not have time for that, the main thing is about tuning in to your body and acknowledging what it needs more (or less) of. And of course, finding simple, easy and regular ways to look after ourselves is definitely important. Sometimes we can get caught up in making sure everyone around us is doing okay, that we forget to look after ourselves. So we’ve put together some ways to engage in self-care in case you don’t quite know where to get started:

Focus on your body

Figuring out what your body needs (and how much of it) to function at your best is an important part of self-care. Things to consider are your diet, how much you’re moving your body, your sleep patterns, the medication/vitamins you’re taking and injuries/illnesses – combined with how your body feels, these things should give you a good indication of some changes you might need to make. Now this doesn’t mean we recommend taking on a fad diet or going to the gym 10 times a week – this won’t necessarily help you because everyone’s needs are slightly different. It does mean some trial and error while you try out new things or build new routines and ultimately, what’s important is deciding what works for you and doing more of that.

Recharge your batteries

One of the most commonly reported reasons for engaging in self-care is to rest our bodies, and feel recharged emotionally. Finding activities (and incorporating them into your routine) that make you feel energised and rejuvenated is an important facet of self-care as it helps us to process and regulate our emotional states. This may be a hobby (like sports, arts/crafts, reading or gardening), a leisure activity (like playing computer games, sightseeing, exercising or shopping) socialising (with friends, family or colleagues) or practicing meditation. Whatever you choose, make it a part of your routine just like you would taking a shower, brushing your teeth or feeding a pet – that way you don’t see it as a luxury but as a necessary part of caring for yourself.

Find a balance

You’re not going to get this self-care thing right the very first time, so expect some trial and error. Finding a balance means considering each different area of your life (work, social, leisure, family, spirituality, health etc) and spreading your time and energy between them.  This doesn’t mean each area will get an equal amount of time as everyone’s needs are unique – you may require more time on leisure while your friend/partner/family member may need to spend more time on their health. This may require some flexibility in certain areas, because although we acknowledge it’s a choice to engage in self-care, our time is not infinite and certain things just have to be done every day. It’s also important to consider that building a self-care routine doesn’t happen overnight, and you might feel frustrated in the beginning. Making small steps in the right direction is what counts – if we break it down activity by activity, day by day, the (seemingly huge and impossible) task won’t seem so difficult to achieve.


Posluns, K., & Gall, T. L. (2020). Dear mental health practitioners, take care of yourselves: A literature review on self-care. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling

Rupert, P. A., & Dorociak, K. E. (2019). Self-care, stress, and well-being among practicing psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice

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