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What exactly is self-care, why is it important and how can you utilise it everyday?

Most of us have heard of self-care. Yet, it can be tricky to do effectively.  How much self-care is enough? How much sleep do you need to get and for how long before your body can sustain a busy lifestyle? How long can you go without exercise before you start to get into a funk and how long before you’re re-energised? How do you prevent yourself from burning out and spiraling out of control? How much time do you need to spend with friends and family to feel connected and a sense of belonging?   

Self-care means caring for yourself. That means knowing what you need to do in order to sustain your physical, emotional and mental health to contribute in productive and positive ways to your family, workplace and community. I think one of the biggest things to watch out for is using the self-care principle as a crisis management tool; for example, “I feel burnt out, I need to do some self-care”. 

“Self-care is important as it increases your capacity to cope with stress, increases your resilience and may help ease some symptoms of mental health problems”

Self care is important as it increases your capacity to cope with stress, increases your resilience and may help ease some symptoms of mental health problems.Self care creates a happy life. It literally means caring. Your first relationship is with yourself. So caring for your self well means that everything else you do, your other relationships and endeavors will flourish.

How you achieve self-care is up to you and depends on your needs, interests and areas of healing in your life. There is no definitive formula or numbers or sets and reps required. Each of us is different.

How do we take self-care from an abstract concept and turn it into a daily, practiced reality?

First and foremost you need to know yourself. It seems almost too obvious, but many of us don’t recognise the signs we are neglecting our self-care. For example, do you notice when are you thinking overly negative? Are you avoiding simple tasks? Are you isolating yourself? What are your signs?

Secondly, we need to understand that self-care isn’t a crisis management tool, it’s a pro-active, and part of the formula for a happy life. It’s a daily commitment. For example, committing yourself to being better organised can be a form of self-care.

Self-care might be committing yourself to making a healthy breakfast at home rather than buying a fast food brekky. It’s being prepared for exercise when the opportunity arises by packing your gym bag. It’s making sure your devices are charged over-night and not running flat during an important phone call at work. Its planning time with friends, even when you feel like you don’t have time.

If you’re not sure where to start with self-care, I will suggest the triad of sleep, diet and exercise. These three things will go a long way to preventing burnout. Start simply by making a few simple adjustments to each of these areas. Maybe add in more water each day and meditate before bedtime for a better deeper sleep and park the car further away from your office to get those extra steps. Be kind to yourself. Be your own best friend.

“If you’re not sure where to start with self-care, I will suggest the triad of sleep, diet and exercise”

These are simple strategies, but they are simple enough and pragmatic that they can be incorporated into your daily routine without too much effort. The point here is, simple changes in each of the domains of diet, sleep and exercise can reap big benefits in the long term. Start small and build from there. We’ve also included some helpful articles and videos below to assist you on your self-care journey. You can start out small and list some self-care techniques that you would like to try out. The important thing is to turn self-care from an abstract buzz word that is used around the office to a practiced daily habit.

We’ve found some useful videos and resources that you can use to help you practice self-care in your daily life:

Helpful Resources: