What Is Self Care? Techniques For Mental, Emotional, And Physical Well Being

Updated March 28, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Maintaining your health internally and externally is a task not only vital for your survival, but also for your happiness, success, and, ultimately, peace of mind. You may find with the busyness of life combined with all its demands that you struggle to keep up with healthy routines. Take a moment to reflect and step away from these busy cycles to consider your own personal needs and mental health. The practice of self-care can become one of your most important life strategies, helping you to build resilience from stress as you improve your health and general well-being. This article is dedicated to helping you discover the intricacies of self-care (including emotional wellness activities and self-care for moms) and how practicing these regularly will improve your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Let’s start to unlock the real definition of “what is self care”, and how we can make it our priority in our busy lives.

Practice Self Care To Improve Your Overall Well-Being

What is Self-Care?

The Oxford Living Dictionary defines self-care as taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health, well-being, and happiness, especially during times of stress. This definition encompasses the beauty and completeness that a healthy self-care routine entails. Daily living and the stresses that arise through life circumstances necessitate the human need for resilience. When you take steps to maintain your well-being, you are proactively limiting the possibility of negativity in your life while building resistance, or resilience, against these stressors.  

When most people think of practicing self-care, they probably think of taking a shower, brushing teeth, or getting enough sleep at night. But while all these basic care activities are essential, self-care entails a more complete routine.  Self-care means taking care of all aspects of yourself, including your physical and mental health. 

Self-care requires thought and effort. If you are not used to practicing self-care techniques regularly, you may find that you stumble in establishing a regular routine. Once you develop some good habits, these methods described below (or the ones of your creation) will become second nature. Physical self-care in your daily life will promote health, similar to the way a healthy lifestyle strengthens your immune system against disease and infection. Furthermore, emotional self-care will give space for your close relationships and social connection to feel valued, especially during difficult times. 

Strategies To Improve Your Well-Being

Below are some tried-and-true techniques for improving your entire well-being. But keep in mind, these are only a beginning on your journey to a complete mental and physical health routine. Self-care is highly personal. Do not hesitate to experiment with what makes you happy, what makes your body feel better, and what makes your mind clearer.


Exercise and daily physical movement are essential parts of a healthy physical self-care routine for stress management and to take proper care of your body. Not only may self-care through physical activity lead to a healthier and longer life, but professional medical advice suggests that when you exercise regularly you can improve many mental health conditions

Most experts recommend 20-30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day, though this varies depending on age, physical condition, and the presence of any related health issues. Aerobic activities like jogging or swimming are great choices, but well-planned martial arts, dance, or sports routines can also do the trick. One tip is to seek out peer support like a jogging buddy through local support groups.

The key here is that you get plenty of physical movement every day. Even if there are days when you simply do not have the time to fit in a regular exercise routine, make sure you spend time standing, walking, and moving around to ensure good physical health and boost your focus and emotional well-being. Standing desks are a great way to increase physical movement during the day, especially for people who spend most of their day working at a computer or desk.


Meditation is another self-care practices that improves your health by offering emotional support and helping you to manage stress. There are many ways to meditate. Choose the method that works best for you. Some meditation methods recommend clearing your mind for a set period of time to give your brain a kind of “reset” and let your mind rest. Other types of meditation are referred to as guided meditations and encourage the meditator to explore the mind and thoughts in a particular way to facilitate peace, focus, and mental well-being.  

Traditional yoga practices also incorporate meditation combined with breathing and postural exercise that improve circulation, reduce stress and anxiety, while promoting mindfulness. You may consider exploring meditation apps on your phone or online to get an introduction to meditation practices. There is no shame or obligation to feel guilty if you miss a day. Just try to relax and sit with your feelings with a deep breath.


Journaling is an addition to your self-care routine that can help relieve stress and allow you to let go of past and present events that are weighing you down. This expressive artform is a way to work through your thoughts, understand your current situation, and reflect on your week or day. Whatever you write in your journal should be for you, and you alone, to read and ponder. 

If you take up a regular journaling practice, try to find a journal that is unlined so that you can draw, write, glue photos, or do anything else you so choose to express yourself and convey your inner thoughts and emotions. Through journaling, you can work through inner issues and begin to understand your behaviors (and even the behavior of other people). Consider journaling in a personal space in nature. Alone, calm, and beautiful spaces offer you the opportunity to explore the freedom of expression without interruption or judgment. 

Adopt A Healthy Diet

Even though some people may believe that diet is solely a way to care for their physical body, diet can change your mood and mental state in significant and surprisingly dramatic ways. Having a balanced diet cannot be underestimated when it comes to self-care, whether it be emotional, mental, or physical. When you nourish your body with whole, nutritious foods, you are more likely to be happier, clearer-headed, and physically capable. It is also important to avoid drugs, alcohol, and junk food completely if not in too much excess. 

The body requires certain nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats) to be able to function properly. Research has shown that if you do not have enough of these nutrients, you may start to experience symptoms of depression. This is because several essential nutrients are required for the control of hormones that control emotional and stress responses. For example, in an extensive review of food patterns and incidence of depressive disorder, researchers found that an increased intake of nutrients (such as folate and essential fatty acids) was correlated with a reduced risk of depression. On the other hand, increased intake of fast food, trans fatty acids, and commercial bakery goods were related to a higher risk of depressive symptoms. 

Practice Self Care To Improve Your Overall Well-Being

Socialize Regularly and Honor Personal Time

Self-care is not only about spending time alone, but also about spending time with others. Even the most introverted person craves a good conversation or a touch on the shoulder from a friend. But, at the same time, it is also healthy to take some time to yourself to think and reflect. Striking a balance between social time and personal  time can be difficult but is possible. 

It is essential to take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically because of how your physical body is often affected by thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you may feel guilty if you do not want to visit with your friends and family, but it is important to remember that you can only extend yourself so much and time to recharge is essential. Start the bubble bath with essential oils for muscle relaxation, take a short walk in nature for some fresh air, or relax with your favorite television show. Make sure to put leisure activities like this on your to do list for better health.

Other Ways To Practice Self-Care

Taking the time to practice a hobby or to enjoy your favorite pastime is an essential part of any self-care practice. Most people have something that they love to do in their free time. Giving yourself the chance to do fun and relaxing activities will boost your happiness. It will also increase your productivity in other parts of your life. Doing the things you enjoy, whether it be reading a good book, baking cakes, or going for a walk at sunset, will improve your general well-being and the benefits can extend into other areas of your life. 

Everyone has a unique way of taking care of their personal, physical, emotional, and mental well-being. To give you some more ideas, here are some other ways to practice self-care:

  • Establish a regular sleep routine

  • Spend time outdoors

  • Moderate social media to reduce anxiety

  • Organize your home and life

  • Take a “no technology” day

  • Practice deep breathing exercises to create more energy

  • Wear comfortable clothes that make you feel good

  • Pamper yourself (put on some lotion, get a haircut, do a foot bath, etc.)

  • Work toward acceptance (of self, others, and your situation)

  • Listen to music

  • Read your favorite book

  • Try something new

Reaching Out When Self-Care Is Not Enough

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental health – emotional, psychological, and social well-being- is not simply the absence of mental illness. It is essential to your overall health and quality of life and self-care can play a central role in maintaining your mental health. Whether you prefer calmer, quieter activities, or if you are more extroverted and outgoing, self-care is essential, and there are activities for everyone that can help balance the mind and body.

If you find that managing your physical, mental, or emotional health is growing increasingly difficult, consider professional therapy. For many people, setting up appointments and traveling to an office for therapy is difficult and may keep them from seeking professional support. Online therapy is a beneficial option in these cases as you can set up a time that is convenient for you and in a comfortable space of your choosing. Furthermore, research has shown that online therapy is equally as effective in helping treat mental health as in-person therapy. For example, a study published in the peer-reviewed research Journal of Clinical Psychology revealed that in over 100 different online counseling trials overall attitudes between both counselors and participants were as positive as with in-person counseling. 

If you are considering online therapy,  contact one of our licensed therapists at BetterHelp for professional medical advice and support. Sometimes one of the most important self-care activities you can do is ask for assistance during difficult times. 

Commonly Asked Questions About Self-Care Techniques

What are self-care strategies or techniques?
What are the different areas of self-care?
What are some examples of self-care?
What are the types of self-care you can practice?
What does good self-care look like?
What is a self-care plan?
How can I mentally work on myself?

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