What is self-care?

And why does it matter?

Self-care is the conscious effort of making time for activities beneficial to maintaining mental and physical health. Caring for your mind and body doesn’t have to be time consuming but does require regular and ongoing consideration. Eating and drinking well, getting enough sleep, exercising, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and living a healthy active lifestyle are just some of the physical health related aspects of self-care, but many people fail to focus on the mental health aspects, like stress management, relaxation, mindfulness, social connections, and hobbies.

In the ever-increasingly busy world we live in, self-care is more important than ever. Constant stresses and exposure to social media and the transportability of technology means that we seldom ‘switch off’. Even after we physically leave the office, school or other, it still follows us home in the form of a phone or laptop. There is constant pressure and expectation for us to always be available and accessible, whether that pressure be internal (F.O.M.O) or external (work, family, friends).

Constant stimulation, stress, busy lifestyles and limited periods of complete rest for the mind and body make it difficult for us to reset and recharge; negatively impacting our physical and mental health. Because we can’t (and shouldn’t) become avoidant of things that might stress, upset or busy us, self-care is the only protection we can give ourselves from the always-on society and world we live in.

What counts as self-care?

Self-care can be different for everyone, but essentially if something makes you feel healthy and happy, it can be considered as an act of self-care.

Personal/ Daily-life Tips:

  • Adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine
  • Prioritise sleep so you can achieve a minimum of 8 hours a night
  • Plan/ schedule self-care time and make it a routine
    • If you’re too busy to make time for self-care, it’s a sign you need it!
  • Learn to say no to others and yes to your own self-care
  • Get outdoors and amongst nature as many times a week as you can
  • Find a hobby that helps you to zone out and relax
  • Practice gratitude, meditate, mindfulness or other relaxation techniques
  • Recognise when your stressed and find the avenue that helps you release tension best (talking to others/ counselling, exercising, gardening, reading, etc)
  • Make and maintain social connections with others
  • Do more of the things that make you feel good!

Professional/ Working-life Tips:

  • Before meetings or difficult conversations use mindfulness or relaxation techniques (like breathing exercises) to enter into a healthy, stable mind space
  • During challenging interactions notice your thoughts, emotions and reactions, and breathe through them. Try stay present and keep conversations professional and relevant
  • After a challenging interaction take a moment alone to process the conversation and how it made you feel
    • Don’t ignore your feelings, try understand the cause of them (what specifically was said or done that made you feel certain emotions, and reflect on why they may have stirred up these emotions). Understanding what caused an emotion can help you process it and move on, or come up with a plan to resolve it
    • Perform Reflective Practice; Don’t beat yourself up about the things you regret saying or doing, acknowledge your strengths and parts of the conversation you handled well or how you may have helped solve a problem, and try to make a conscious effort to better articulate the points you were unhappy with for future similar interactions. You may find journaling your thoughts and reflections helpful
    • Perform some mindful or relaxation techniques to help you to calm and re-focus
    • If you’re struggling to process your thoughts and emotions, talk it out with someone you trust (a peer, friend or professional)