Self-care is a buzz word that we may hear often – through workshops ending with reminders to practice self-care, advertisements prompting us to buy fancy soaps and creams in the name of self-care, co-workers or friends going out for a few drinks in the evening or the spa on the weekend as self-care. But these examples leave too much vagueness. What does self-care really mean? How can self-care be, sleeping, exercising, etc. all at the same time?


Let’s start by defining what self-care is:


  • Prioritizing yourself
  • Extending the grace, care, and compassion we extend to others daily to ourselves
  • An intentional and ongoing act to care for ourselves (not just a box to be ticked off once!)
  • A boundary around how much time, energy and attention we will give to something that is not us


Self-care is not:

  • Selfish or self-indulgent – self-care is self-respect
  • A reward (self-care is a must)
  • Pampering oneself (although it might be)
  • Expensive
  • The same for everyone – self-care looks different for everyone, and might even look different for the same person on different days


Why self-care is important:

When we go about our daily lives, bouncing from one thing to the next this can take a toll both on our physical and mental health. We likely spend our days caring for others in a variety of ways, as well as engaging in the mundane activities of daily life (such as sitting in traffic, grocery shopping, running errands, etc.)


There are four main areas of self-care: psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical (Hasson, 2020). It is essential to consider the holistic nature of the person and each of these areas needs to be tended to carefully.


How to start practicing self-care right now:

  • Tune into yourself
    • Identify people, places or things that are meaningful to you and effective in soothing, grounding or relaxing yourself
  • Know your early warning signs
    • Identify what it feels like when we need to tend to ourselves
      • How does it feel when we are tired, burnout, agitated, etc.
    • Coping strategies
      • Consider: what can I do when I start to see the early warning signs?
    • Know the signs of what burnout looks like for you
    • Identify self-care and coping strategies to use when feeling burnt out
      • Could write a list so that it is easier to remember and engage in
    • Practice self-compassion
      • Be kind and patient with yourself – offer yourself the same compassionate understanding and love that we give to those we care about
    • Ask yourself: How can I care for my body? And what are some new things I can try to support my body when I am feeling tension?



Hasson, G. (2020). The self-care handbook: Connect with yourself and boost your wellbeing Wiley-Capstone.


Useful Resources:

Tips for practicing self-compassion:

A quick quiz to get a “Mind Plan” for self-care ideas:

Self-compassion guided practice and exercises:

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