A picture of a lady drinking coffee and taking care of herself in a calm environment. She is practicing self-care.

Self Care: What is it?

What is self care…really?

Almost every year, my friends and I go to a local convention in May centered around all kinds of nerdy things like comics, anime, and video games. This year, we decided to sit in on a panel called, “Sailor Moon says… self-care!” Early into the talk, the speaker, dressed as Sailor Moon, asked the crowd, “What are some examples of self-care?” A smattering of answers came from the crowd: drink water, go for walks outside, get some alone time, hang out with friends, take a bath, eat a meal, go to therapy, take medication/vitamins, and the list goes on and on. I was in awe at the sheer amount of good responses from the crowd and also amazed at how different everyone’s responses were!

…But what is self-care? Why do these things help us? And how come some work for some but not for others?

How do you define self-care?

A dictionary definition from Oxford Languages is the following:

Self-care: the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health or the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

In other words, self-care is what we do for our mental and physical well-being.  When we use our self-care tools, we meet the needs of our body and mind. Because everyone’s personal needs are a little different, everyone will have slightly different self-care needs. Some self-care tasks involve care for the body such as, drinking water, exercising, routine sleep, eating healthy meals, going to the doctor or dentist for routine care, and showering/bathing. These tasks allow us to care for our bodies and ensure they are healthy.

Mental Health Self-Care

The mental health side of self-care is where everyone’s personal needs change. Self-care in this part of the spectrum involves taking care of our mental and cognitive needs. This may include recharging from the day, doing a task to help us have a healthy mindset, or possibly working on relieving stress to take care of our mental well-being.

Self-care by recharging

What are some tasks that help us recharge?

Activities that help us recharge can include alone time, time with friends and community, or doing something you consider relaxing. 

Creating a healthy mindset

What about a healthy mindset? That would include positive self-talk, focusing on things that you are grateful for, and prayer or meditation.

Caring for our mental wellbeing

How do we take care of our mental wellbeing? Things like going to counseling, practicing coping skills or distress tolerance skills, and practicing mindfulness can all help to keep on top of mental well-being. 

The spiritual piece to self-care

A final piece of self-care that many people don’t think about is the spiritual piece. The Bible says that Jesus gives us His peace. What is peace? It’s calmness and the absence of stress. Practicing spiritual techniques like prayer, Scripture reading, and worship are all ways to grow your peace and change your perspective to improve your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. 

Remember, what works for one person may not work for someone else. It is best to try different approaches until you find what works best for you.

Conclusion

A very important part of practicing self-care is having the awareness to know when to get help and support. Much like when we are sick we need to go to the doctor, if your mental well-being is not up to par, you may need to seek the help of a counselor. If your relationship is in shambles, getting marriage counseling can help bring peace to your home life. If you are struggling with overload at work or in life and don’t know how to cope, individual counseling can help you develop techniques to improve your ability to enjoy life. Keep in mind, that there is no shame in seeking help. 

Further Reading and Resources: 

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/self-care-health-interventions

https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/self-care

https://www.google.com/search?sca_esv=37db28bfa134011b&sxsrf=ADLYWIIDrBAFo0pxWSKcs8O2BB9yiwXR2w:1719343409070&q=self-care&si=ACC90nytWkp8tIhRuqKAL6XWXX-Nuvmypm_1NH4r_vRPXIvxjEcLzgqVqStlmzSsVwnogeTds8lVZqEvGkAIMJFnsneXdDfcixoM9qgZLpGA1U7fkjLEPP4%3D&expnd=1&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiO0ZOpvfeGAxUcRzABHYftBQ8Q2v4IegQIIRAQ&biw=1366&bih=633&dpr=1

Activities for Personal Exploration:

https://nadohe.memberclicks.net/assets/2019/Self-Care%2520Toolbox%2520handout.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjn3K-QyOuGAxWI4skDHeKOCdwQFnoECBQQAQ&usg=AOvVaw3hvaRwWubBmYekn8xwb5wk 

Janna LeCroy, LPC headshot

Author:

Jana LeCroy is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She provides couples counseling and individual counseling as a therapist at Legacy Marriage Resources, LLC based in Augusta, Georgia. Find out more about her in her Bio.

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