What Is Self-Care And Why Is It Important?

By: Sarah Fader

Updated January 25, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

What is Self Care?

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Self care is the act of deliberately nurturing your needs, including physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. It’s crucial to take care of your body and your mind. Self care is the act of paying attention to what’s important to us and finding ways to make time for ourselves. It’s not selfish to respect your desires. It’s imperative to take care of yourself because if we only have one life, we want to make sure that living experience is fulfilling. Dangerous things can happen when you don’t take care of yourself. People can fall into habits such as addiction or acting or engaging in activities that harm your body and mind. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that you engage in goal setting and make time for self care. It can help to find a therapist who understands the value of self care as well as engaging in the activities that promote it. Here’s why self care is important:

Making Time to Care for You

During these uncertain times of the Covid-19 Pandemic, it can be challenging to take care of yourself. You have to make an active choice to engage in self care, whether it’s your physical health or emotional wellbeing. It can be particularly important for those individuals that live with chronic pain or with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health concerns. But regardless of whether or not you have a mental health condition, it’s imperative to engage in different forms of self care. That can include goal setting and making sure that you know what you want to accomplish within the next week, month, or year.

It’s crucial to get enough hours of sleep, and that can be a simple self care goal to set: I will get x many hours of sleep tonight. But for some people, it’s not that easy as setting the intention and reminding oneself of this regularly. Some individuals struggle with chronic insomnia, and that could be due to mental health concerns or conditions or physiological ones, or even plain old existential dread. A huge part of self care may entail finding ways to get enough sleep and or rest.

When you engage in self care, you learn what’s important. You want to make sure that you do some things you like instead of those you don’t enjoy. It’s crucial to distinguish between the core things that you need versus things like idle hobbies or extracurricular activities that can help you but aren’t absolutely necessary. This information can help you to prioritize your self care habits.


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Sleep. Sleep plays an essential role in taking good care of your body and mind. If you think about goal setting for self care, you can find a way to get enough sleep or, at the very least, enough rest. It could be as simple as setting a sleep care routine, altering the environment in the room or space in which you sleep, or looking to your doctor to provide medical guidance regarding how to get enough sleep at night. Part of living your best life is having enough rest so that you can function during the day. If you’re not well-rested it can become difficult to listen, make decisions, and care for yourself and your family. If you struggle with sleep, you might consider joining a support group that talks about different mental health issues, including insomnia and chronic pain. Keep in mind that there are certain mental health conditions that can impact the quality of your sleep. Sleep impacts mind and body functioning, so make sure that you find a way to get enough rest. It’s okay to consult a medical health professional if you see that you can’t get enough hours of sleep during the evening.

Support groups and Mental Health

It can help to join support groups when you’re struggling with particular issues. There are meetings for various challenges, such as addiction, eating disorders, grief, trauma, or parenting. Support groups aren’t the same as group therapy or seeing an individual counselor, but they can make a person feel less alone.

Healthy Eating

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Many people are struggling with healthy eating, especially during these uncertain times due to stress, anxiety, financial instability, or access to fresh produce and meat. During a quarantine, for example, people might be more prone to stress eating. Understandably, you may be eating for comfort but remember that this is also an opportunity to engage in goal setting, including by striving for a healthy diet. Some people struggle with eating disorders, and that’s a different kind of situation. If you’re in isolation, it can be hard to seek support. You might want to find a therapist to talk to about your condition, and that can be challenging. So, before or while you’re in the process of searching for a therapist to see through telehealth or online counseling, you could join a support group for eating disorders. You’re not distracting from your mission to find a therapist. It’s crucial for anybody to pay attention to healthy eating habits to live their best life. That means giving yourself the opportunity to be healthy. So, when possible, drink enough clean water, keep food items in the house that make you feel good and are good for you, and follow a healthy diet. Feel free to consult a medical professional or nutritionist, or therapist for guidance. Self care means advocating for yourself. One way you can do that is by paying attention to your needs and your wants, and eating well to nourish yourself can become both a need and a desire. You can find a therapist who will help you with healthy eating habits and encourage you to care for yourself.

Support System

Having a support system is imperative in life and can enrich your life experience by providing a metaphorical or sometimes a literal safety net. We all need assistance or guidance, or comfort at some point in our lives, and a support system can provide help or validation or a receptive audience. If you’re having trouble finding friends or family to speak to or a romantic partner, remember that that is something a lot of people are challenged by. You are not alone, and you can find a therapist to talk to about these issues. Online therapy is a very common place to seek support. A therapist can help you figure out what the problems you’re struggling with are and support you in working through said issues. For those who have a stable support system, that’s a wonderful thing, and it’s something to be grateful for. A support system is part of a healthy lifestyle, and it can help people feel less alone.

Wants Are Part of a Self Care Routine as Well

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Self care isn’t all about needs, although it is important to put your necessary needs before wants. Self care means putting yourself first and engaging in activities that make you feel good about yourself, but it’s also about honoring your basic needs such as food, sleep, shelter, pleasure, and things of that nature. It’s also about doing things that you simply enjoy. So, for example, if you struggle with an issue such as chronic pain, it can be difficult to find enjoyment in life if you are constantly struggling with this issue. But it’s not impossible. People with chronic pain have the potential to live a fulfilling life; however, it’s important to make sure that the hobbies they engage in don’t exacerbate their chronic pain issues. When you think about your wants, these are the things that you enjoy doing in your spare time, and it’s essential to carve out some dedicated time to do these things. These could be activities such as hiking, watching movies, playing sports, singing, talking on the phone with a friend, or whatever enriches your life that is not considered basic necessities. This is because self care is more than just necessary things; it’s things that enrich your life and make it better. You can discuss and discover these activities and how to engage in them safely with a therapist.

The Meaning of Self Care

Self care means putting yourself first. It doesn’t imply that you’re going to be “selfish” or neglect people in your life. Self care means learning to set boundaries when you don’t want to do something. It doesn’t indicate that you’re unreasonable when you assert what you want from others. Self care means you value your worth and want to be a better version of you. It doesn’t imply that you’re above others or that you devalue relationships. Self care means you’re taking an active role in bettering your wellbeing. It indicates that you want to enjoy life. Self care means different things to different individuals, and you get to decide how it improves your life.

Finding a Therapist to Talk to About Your Problems

It’s crucial to place mental health as a priority when you’re thinking about self care. If you’re struggling to take care of yourself, you can find a therapist to talk through these issues with, and there’s no shame or stigma in that. You can practice self care in small ways each day. If you’re thinking about mental health care, you might consider telehealth. One place to search for good therapy is online. You can find a therapist online who understands your concerns. The counselors at BetterHelp are dedicated to helping people work through their problems and showing them strategies to engage in self care. When you find a therapist who understands your specific concerns, it’s a gamer-changer. These mental health professionals are vetted and may be members of a psychological advisory board. Good self care means a lot and can positively impact your life. Online therapists can provide a diagnosis or treatment for mental health disorders and help you with goal setting. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, which can include going to a support group or seeing an online therapist. Your mental health is a huge part of self care, and it’s crucial not to neglect it and to engage in mental health treatment when you need or want it.

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