What’s Your Definition Of Self Care?

By Sarah Fader |Updated August 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

Self care is a noun and a verb. It centers around a person’s goal to maintain health. Self care includes a variety of ways to preserve a person’s wellness. It’s a simple concept, but the definition is crucial to note. The Oxford dictionary defines self care as “The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health.” The World Health organization respects the ability of families to provide for each other. They’re an excellent health education resource. The World Health Organization has a good idea of what self care is, and they’re not afraid to express that to us. WHO defines self care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

learn more about the importance of self care

Self-Care Can Help Improve Your Overall Wellness

The World Health Organization understands that self care involves seeing a health provider regularly to prevent disease. That’s one of the aspects of self care that will promote health. Being mindful of healthy eating and monitoring your blood pressure are other ways you can manage self care. These are literal definitions of self care, but the reality is that term means something different to each individual. The most crucial aspect of it is that you pay attention to what your mind, body, and spirit need and give that to yourself. Healthy people engage in a self care day. They are dedicated to positive daily living where they consider their needs. It’s crucial to note that cultural beliefs influence self care. In American society, we value healthy eating. We see physical and mental health as a part of self care. However, other cultural beliefs differ when it comes to health and wellbeing. It depends on where you live in the world as to what the definition of self care is for you and your society. It’s okay to embrace the diverse meanings of the topic. They’re all valid, and the World Health Organization would agree. Individual families and communities have varying definitions of self care, as well.

What’s A Definition Of Self Care?

When we think of the definition of self care, there are many factors involved. Some of those include emotional health, physical health, enough hours of sleep, good mood and energy, and a healthy diet. Much of caring for yourself involves attending to your body and mind. You want to protect your physical being against disease or illness and maintain physical and mental health. It’s crucial to think of the mind-body connection when you consider attending to your needs. Healthy people practice self care by integrating these two elements. Your physical body is essential to maintain, as is your mental wellbeing. These are two factors that dictate your overall health.

Self Care And Alone Time

Some people don’t like to be alone. Many individuals love to be around friends and family. They consider themselves social beings and may identify as extroverts. Introverts are more comfortable decompressing with alone time. No matter what type of person you are, having time by yourself is crucial for self care. You need to take space from others to get to know yourself. It’s not healthy to be always surrounded by people. Self care means spending time with yourself and your thoughts. It could mean going for a run to stay fit. It might mean taking a bath or reading up on health literacy. Spending time alone gives you the chance to relax and ground yourself. It’s time to ingest information about the world. Find books you like to read or articles that stimulate you. You can read exciting health information in a scientific journal if that’s your thing. There are so many ways to practice self care that is fulfilling to each of us. Alone time is an essential part of self care.

Living Conditions Influence Self Care

When your living conditions are unclean or messy, that could negatively influence your self care. Maybe you’re feeling depressed, and it’s hard to manage cleaning your space. You know that cleaning your house will help you and improve your health, but it feels impossible. Some people don’t understand how severe depression is and how it negatively impacts a person’s ability to care for themselves. Feeling depressed can impact a person’s physical health, as well. When you’re living in an unsanitary place, or you’re too depressed to bathe, that can lead to infections or long term disease. Mental and physical health are connected here. Additionally, you’re probably not going to engage in physical activity if you can’t handle basic self care, such as hygiene or cleaning your home. It’s a catch 22 because physical activity can be an excellent form of self care, and it helps people with a depressed mood. Your living conditions directly influence your physical and mental health. If you notice that your home is in disarray, that could be a sign of a mental health issue. An essential part of self care is attending to your mental wellness. Take action and get the help you need.

Simple Self Care Definitions

Self-Care Can Help Improve Your Overall Wellness

You might be confused as to what self care is. Here are some simple ways to define it.

  1. Self care means understanding your boundaries or knowing when to say “no.”
  2. Self care is understanding when you need to take a break.
  3. Self care is exiting a toxic relationship.
  4. Self care means eating well and taking care of your body.
  5. Self care is about getting enough self at night.
  6. Self care means acknowledging long term health conditions and dealing with them.
  7. Self care can be taking an interest in public health.
  8. Self care means accurately assessing what you can and can’t do.
  9. Self care could be getting adequate health care.
  10. Self care includes spending time with individual families and communities.
  11. Self care helps us maintain health.

These are some simple definitions to help you answer the question, "What is self care?" But they're not the only ones. You can think about what the practice means to you and write down your own definition. Self care means staying healthy. It means that you know your health needs. Health literacy is part of self care.

What Is Health Literacy?

Health literacy means you can secure and understand relevant healthcare information so that you can make decisions about your wellbeing. Part of health literacy is that a patient can follow the instructions for their treatment plan. When you are health literate, you are able to engage in active self care. You know what you have to do to take care of yourself, and you are able to follow instructions to do so. Many of us take for granted that we speak the language of the country we live in. There are many people who live in the United States that don’t speak English and have difficulty following treatment plans. That’s why health literacy is a crucial movement that we need to foster in every country. Every human being has the right to good healthcare and the right to understand their treatment plan so they can maintain wellness. If you go to the doctor, you are taking a step towards self care. You should be able to understand the instructions the doctor is giving you so that you can follow them and stay healthy. Health literacy can assist with this process.

Eating And Sleeping Right

Eating the right foods and sleeping enough contribute to self care, though health is so much more than the food eaten in a day, and that should certainly be acknowledged. When you eat properly according to your individual needs, your body gets enough nourishment, and you can maintain health. If you’re not consuming healthy food, your body and mind suffer. It becomes difficult to properly maintain health. For example, if you eat a lot of sugar, it can be difficult to wind down at night. It’s good to eat a balanced diet so that your body gets what it needs. It doesn’t mean that you can’t eat sweets. Just make sure that you have healthy food in addition to sugary snacks. If you consume too much caffeine, it can be challenging to go to sleep at night. Sleeping is a huge part of self care. You want to get enough rest during the evening so you can function well the next day. If you’re having trouble sleeping, that could be a sign of a larger health issue. It’s crucial to see a doctor if you’re suffering. It’s not so easy for people to see a medical professional if they don’t have good health care coverage. That’s a scary situation to be in for many people. The lack of healthcare for citizens is a huge problem in many countries, including the United States. If you do have healthcare coverage and you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, it’s crucial that you see a medical professional because a lack of sleep can influence your mental health. Part of self care is making sure you get enough rest, and if you’re not sleeping, your mental health will suffer.

Online Therapy Is There For You

We could all use more lessons in self care. Mental and physical wellness are crucial parts of being a human being. And there’s a learning curve when it comes to self care. Even if you have a solid routine to care for yourself, you can always improve upon it. Sometimes self care and the routine surrounding it needs to change. What works for you during one part of your life may not work after a while. You could explore these issues in mental health counseling. One of the best places to find out how to care for yourself is in therapy. Online therapy is an ideal space to discover ways to engage in self care. The skilled mental health professionals had BetterHelp know how to guide you toward caring for yourself. Maybe you’re new to this concept of self care. That doesn’t mean that you are helpless. An online therapist is dedicated to helping you find strategies that will keep you mentally and physically well.


All in all, self care is a broad concept. We all need to receive care, whether it’s from ourselves or others, and what that looks like can differ extensively depending on who you are. Even the things we see as fundamental principles of self care can vary in some ways among different people. Seeking individualized guidance from a medical or mental healthcare professional when needed is important to ensure that you’re caring for yourself in the best way possible, and reaching out for help from others can be a form of self care.

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.