Simplifying Self-Care

Updated: Mar 22

I remember when I first began schooling for social work we would always be told to practice “self-care”. I remember this being quite frustrating because none of us had any idea what “self-care” meant or looked like but it would be said to us all the time. Since then, it has become common practice at workplaces, schools and in just about every aspect of our lives to practice self-care. Although the practice of self-care has become more prominent in each of our lives, I still believe that many of us still don’t truly understand what self-care means or why we are being told to do it all the time.

What is self-care?

If you are confused about self-care, want to know how to start practicing self-care or just want to expand your existing self-care practice, then you are in the right place.

Self-care is oftentimes confused with extravagant pampering or getting chores done. Self-care is actually neither of these things. Self-care refers to the things that you do that help you cope with daily life. Self-care comes down to your basic needs and prioritizing them. So instead of cooking a pretty and healthy meal in the name of self-care, you should be making sure that you are making time to eat - period. We will talk more about this in a minute.

Benefits of self-care

Self-care is a great reminder for us to take care of ourselves. Often we can get overwhelmed and busy with school, work and responsibilities at home. Often you might find you are neglecting your own basic needs to meet other demands in your life. This is why it is common for schools and workplaces to tell us to engage in self-care. This is their way of telling us - yes we are going to expect a lot from you but it is your responsibility to take care of yourselves. It is your responsibility to take breaks, eat well, get rest and have boundaries. Is the original meaning of self-care starting to make more sense now? If not, no worries we will use some examples next.

How to self-care

The best way to begin self-care is to identify the core basic needs you have. For everyone, this may look different but here are some basics:

  • Physical

  • Spiritual

  • Nutrition

  • Rest

Let’s say your responsibilities have gotten so overwhelming that you often go to work without eating breakfast, skip your lunch breaks and find yourself eating take-out after work. Something as simple as taking notice of your lack of time to eat and adjusting your routine to eat more in the day is a great example of self-care. You don’t have to eat a super clean meal or go above and beyond. All you have to do is notice you have neglected your nutrition and then prioritize it by perhaps just adjusting your time, creating boundaries or having easy snacks around. Doesn’t this look quite different from what you might see online or hear people talk about?

Let’s use another example. Let’s say you always skip your lunch break because you have so much work to do. Let’s say you don’t feel very rested and this is something you have begun to notice. A great self-care strategy here would be to prioritize rest. Someone in this situation might schedule in their lunch breaks so that they are actually getting a break. They might use this break to exercise which could address another basic need. Some others might actually use this break to take a nap which could address another need. The core self-care activity here is prioritizing taking an actual break from work.

How not to self-care

Sometimes I find people will add activities to their days such as yoga, pampering and chores thinking this is self-care but it is not. It is not self-care if you are adding activities blindly because they sound like self-care. Self-care is about prioritizing the things that help you function in your day-to-day activities. You might find that you are skipping your breaks at work and are getting overwhelmed so you book a yoga class after work to relax...unfortunately this is just adding to your plate. I challenge you to really look at your basic needs and if they are being met well enough for you to cope with your daily stressors.

Let's make some changes

There are a few ways you can get into the mindset of self-care. One way is in the content you consume. For example, you can follow our Instagram page @therapywithnisha to get gentle reminders and ideas for self-care. Another way is to subscribe to our monthly newsletters to receive more in-depth tools and activities for self-care.

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