self care
Selfcare is a key condition in which we build a healthy, fulfilling life within and contribute positively to people and circumstances around us. Image Credit: Pexels


  • Prioritise personal well-being: this leads to greater resilience, focus, and productivity.
  • Self-care translates into better decision-making, improved problem-solving skills, and ultimately, a greater capacity to serve others effectively.

Self-care is often misunderstood. Some see it as indulgence in "luxuries" or "time-wasters". It's not just about having a massage and going on a retreat.

How do you treat yourself? There are times when it can be difficult to take care of ourselves. We tend to blame ourselves for every little mistake, every thing we don't know, or even punish ourselves in our everyday lives.

Self-care is the act of nurturing our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

It’s the process of establishing behaviours to ensure holistic well-being of oneself, to promote health, and actively manage illness when it occurs.

It covers every aspect of human relations. Individuals engage in some form of self-care – or lack of it – daily with food choices, exercise, sleep, and hygiene.

Here's why self-care matters

Resilience: Self-care is crucial for building resilience. It's not selfish; it's the bedrock of your ability to care for others. By maintaining your well-being, you become better equipped to handle life's challenges.

Stress management: Chronic stress can lead to significant physical and mental health issues. Research from the Mayo Clinic highlights how everyday demands can trigger stress responses, making you feel constantly under attack.

Self-care practices help mitigate these effects, reducing stress and promoting emotional balance.

Self-care practices

Portia Preston, an Assistant Professor of Public Health, shares her journey of redefining self-care after being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.

Despite societal pressures to prioritise work over personal health, she realised the importance of self-care and developed a comprehensive plan:

Physical self-care: Includes walking or dancing for 30 minutes five days a week and accessing routine medical and dental care. This includes eating the right foods, and avoiding (addictive) sugar overload.

Psychological self-care: Involves daily journaling for self-reflection to understand needs, set realistic expectations, and process stress.

Emotional self-care: Means having compassion for oneself daily.

Relational self-care: Includes regular downtime with family and friends. Involves connecting with a faith community and spending time in nature.

Professional self-care: Involves pursuing invigorating work, setting boundaries, and establishing support mechanisms.

Research insights

Several studies highlight the benefits of self-care:

Work performance: A study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that employees who engage in regular self-care report higher job satisfaction and work performance.

Empathy: Research in Personal Relationships revealed that self-care practitioners are more attuned to others' needs and exhibit greater emotional intelligence.

Stress reduction: A study in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that mindfulness meditation, a self-care practice, significantly reduces stress levels and improves emotional regulation.

Practical self-care tips

Practice self-compassion:

  • Be kind to yourself, avoiding self-criticism.
  • Acknowledge and validate your emotions.
  • Forgive yourself for past mistakes.

Prioritise self-care:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with nutritious food, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
  • Set boundaries and say no to draining activities.
  • Engage in enjoyable activities.

Cultivate a positive mindset:

  • Practice gratitude (count your blessings; be ready to show appreciation for and to return kindness).
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
  • Use positive affirmations to reinforce your self-worth.

8 tips: Invest in your well-being

By prioritising self-care, you become more resilient, productive, and empathetic, creating a ripple effect of positivity that benefits those around you.  

  1. Go for a walk and clear your head: Have you spent any time outside lately? Try going for walks to your favorite places, whether it's restaurants, scenic spots, or nature trails. This can significantly help with anxiety and stress. If you've been pushing yourself hard lately, you owe yourself this opportunity to de-stress.
  2. Identify what you need and follow through: Take a moment to evaluate how you're feeling right now. Maybe you're tired or have been working too hard. Acknowledge these feelings and choose to listen to your body. Doing regular maintenance like this can prevent burnout and help you feel ready and recharged for what's important to you.
  3. Drink enough water, and rest: Often when stressed or feeling down, we forget to eat, drink enough water, and get adequate sleep. Imagine a loved one in that situation—you'd encourage them to take care of themselves. Treat yourself with the same care and make sure you're nourished and rested.
  4. Limit sugary foods, especially when you're ill. A fever is your body's natural way of fighting infection. While some medications might have added sugars, focus on giving your immune system the upper hand. Opt for healthier options to keep your body fueled for the battle within. If you start eating any sugar, you’re basically handicapping your immune system
  5. Take breaks from stressful events: Set boundaries and say no to draining activities. Engage in enjoyable activities. Pushing yourself relentlessly towards deadlines or cramming for tests can diminish your ability to retain information. Instead of long, intense study sessions, try shorter, spaced-out sessions throughout the day. This can improve learning and memory retention.
  6. Reward yourself for a job well done: When you finish tasks, take a moment to acknowledge your accomplishment. If you tend to feel relieved rather than accomplished, introduce a reward system. Celebrate your achievements, big or small, to reinforce positive feelings about your accomplishments.
  7. Forgive yourself and move forward: Everyone makes mistakes and has regrets. Instead of blaming yourself excessively, practice self-forgiveness. Learn from your mistakes and use them as opportunities for growth. Remember, you're only human, and it's okay to make mistakes.
  8. Encourage and be patient with yourself: Treating yourself kindly can significantly improve your approach to challenges and enhance your mental health. Have you experienced how being kinder to yourself improved how you dealt with a difficult situation or enhanced your well-being? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Cultivate a Positive Mindset:

  • Practice gratitude.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
  • Use positive affirmations to reinforce your self-worth.